The Unrelenting Struggle for Immigrants’ Freedom
Many have dedicated their lives to fighting for civil rights; the treatment of all people in an equal and fair manner regardless of their race, religion or nationality. In Montgomery, Alabama, there is a Civil Rights Memorial dedicated to 41 people who died between 1954 and 1968, during the civil rights movement in the United States.
In Maricopa County, Arizona, the fight for civil rights is an ongoing endeavor. Leading the charge are two journalists; Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. An article written by a journalist working at the Phoenix Times questioned the integrity of the then county sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
The sheriff had allegedly made a 690,000 dollar investment in cash in spite of his 72,000 dollars annual income. It was after the journalist left Phoenix Times that Lacey and Larkin, who were his bosses, took up the story.
Investigations into the complaints lodged against the sheriff brought to light the corruption and abuse that was going on in the county. The sheriff was known for harassing the Hispanic community, conducting searches without warrants and making random arrests of innocent individuals.
The prisons were neglected and unhygienic that more than 60 inmates passed on in a span of fewer than two years.
Lacey and Larkin wrote numerous articles exposing the rot in the sheriff’s administration and the sheriff responded by sending subpoenas to Phoenix Times. The subpoenas demanded that Phoenix Times release data on their readers and sources.
The Phoenix Times, however, decided to print the subpoenas and expose the abuse of office by the sheriff by explaining the context. In an arrogant show of power, their offices were soon raided and Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin got arrested. That was done minus a warrant.
Protests from members of the public against the arrests led to their release just 24 hours after their arrest but this was not the end of their battles. The two journalists and the sheriff met again in court after Lacey and Larkin decided to sue the county.
This marked the beginning of a long litigation process that led up to the Ninth Circuit court of appeal finding the sheriff guilty of criminal contempt and awarding 3.75 million dollars in damages to Lacey and Larkin. The two journalists set up the Frontera Fund to defend the civil rights of immigrants and relevant causes.
Just recently, The President, Mr. Donald Trump, issued a presidential pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was to start serving his sentence on October 5. The self-proclaimed Americas Toughest Sheriff, Joe Arpaio took to twitter to express his gratitude to the president and name his conviction, “a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department!”
It comes as no surprise that civil rights organizations are not pleased by this decision. In a statement from the white house, the president thanked 85-year-old, Joe Arpaio for his more than 50 years of service. Civil rights organizations rebuked the decision and accused the president of endorsing racism.