It takes a lot to stand up for what you believe in when faced by intimidation. Arizona-based journalists, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, had for a long time been covering human interest stories in the city of Phoenix.
This often drove them to cover stories on the conduct of police and the treatment of immigrants in the city. As it turns out, however, the Sherriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio was not a big fan of their work and consequently cooked up false charges to have them arrested in October 2007.
Fortunately, many became aware of the frivolousness of the charges laid against Lacey and Larkin, ultimately leading to the charges being dropped in a day. Committed to fighting for their rights, however, the two journalists sued Maricopa County and Joe Arpaio and won a $3.7 settlement from the county.
Unselfishly, Lacey and Larkin decided to commit the settlement towards fighting for the rights of the marginalized groups in Arizona, particularly Hispanic immigrants.
It is not far-fetched to assume that the illegal detention Lacey and Larkin were subjected to has been done to other people. If these people were among the marginalized people in society such as undocumented immigrants, their stories would most likely never be heard, and they do not adequately understand their rights. Read more: Michael Lacey | Crunchbase and Michael Lacey | Twitter
It is for this reason that Lacey and Larkin have for the last four years been supporting community organizations committed to legally helping the disadvantaged in society through their Frontera Fund. It is slightly ironic that an injustice meted out to them led to Lacey and Larkin acquiring the resources to fight against injustice.
Among the dozens of organizations that Lacey and Larkin support is the Justice for Immigrant Families (JIF) project. The Phoenix-based project is backed by the city’s Legal Action Network. The project is targeted at helping as many of the 325 thousand undocumented immigrants believed to reside in Arizona currently, access quality legal services.
These services include referrals to pro-bono lawyers, workshops on their rights and access to legal self-help resources. The JIF has over the course of its existence collaborated with numerous other community organizations to ensure that every resident in Arizona has the opportunity to socially and economically improve his/her life regardless of their legal status.
All in all the successes of the Frontera Fund since it was formed four years ago have been immense. The fund has directly and indirectly been able to advocate for the free speech, human rights and civil rights of thousands across Arizona.
Many of those previous discriminated against for their gender, race, religious affiliation and immigration status in Arizona now know that they have an organization looking after their interests.
It is the work of people such as Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin that truly lend credibility to the claim that America is the land of the brave and the free. Regardless of where we come from, we never lose our status as human beings and should thus be treated humanely at all times.