In US history, there have been several controversial presidential pardons given, but none come close to the first pardon issued by President Donald Trump to America’s toughest sheriff; Joe Arpaio. The president’s decision came as a shock to many people who are fully knowledgeable about the very many crimes of the former Maricopa County Sheriff.
His notoriety is well known to many, and writing them down may take more than a whole day. But one of the most striking and notable of his atrocity is the clandestine arrest and detention of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, the owners of Village Voice owners.
The Arpaio Backstory
A little over ten years ago, agents from the Selective Enforcement Unit of the Maricopa County, under the covers of darkness visited the homes of Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey and hauled the two men from their homes. The charge against them was disclosing information relating to an ongoing grand-jury investigation.
As of the time of the arrest, Larkin and Lacey were both working in their Village Voice Media newspaper. Lacey was the executive editor while Lacey was the publication CEO.
They had published a piece in the Village Voice Media publication, the Phoenix New Times, earlier the same day pertaining to the probe of a grand jury. What the duo didn’t know was that the investigation by the grand jury was on them.
The Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, was sick and tired of the continuous coverage of his administrative tactics and was seeking a way to shut the duo down.
His infamous tent city and the plethora of inhuman orders targeted against women and inmates, particularly when they are immigrant, were some of the issues brought up by the publication.
For a long time, issues relating to Arpaio’s ill-treatment of immigrants and other wrongful orders were handled behind closed doors. But about 10 years ago, things changed when a lawsuit was filed against the dictator sheriff. The lawsuit revealed the treatment of inmates in the Tent City, and on this information, the sheriff was charged with violating the rights of Latino and other immigrant groups.
Despite the charges, Arpaio unrepentantly continued to carry out his illicit work, urging his employees to do same. With the same vigor, Lacey and Larkin continued to write about and expose the sheriff, many times causing them to collide with Arpaio’s department. The release of the news on the grand jury was the brick that broke the camel’s back and was what set the sheriff off, ordering their arrest.
The arrest of the pair had the opposite effect of what Arpaio had been expecting. Rather than dampen the spotlight on him, it resulted in a wider coverage, with news station from all parts of the country writing against the act.
When the outcry was louder than Arpaio could handle, he released the two men 24 days after their arrest. The pair immediately filed a suit against the sheriff, revealing even more about his corruption and malpractice. The pair were paid $3.7million.
Arpaio started falling out of luck after the settlement. Firstly, he couldn’t get reelected to office for the seventh time. Then, in July 2017, he was charged with contempt of court in the Melendres suit. He was to face as much as six months in prison.
This was when Trump stepped in. Arpaio, being a wily politician, had endorsed Trump’s presidential bid very early in the race. Trump had also pander to Arpaio’s voter base by stating during his campaign that he could grant the former sheriff pardon. The pardon, therefore, was a fulfillment of a promise made.
Several human right organizations have risen up to contend against Arpaio and to ensure that the Latino community is safe and right respected. One of such organization is Fontera Fund, created by Lacey and Larkin.
They had started the fund with the settlement money awarded following their lawsuit. The Fontera Fund has since then played an important role in fighting for the right of Latino.
Despite Trump’s pardon, there is hope that the movements sprouting up will be able to curb Arpaio’s agenda once and for all.