The selection of ACLU of Arizona as one of the groups to be supported with the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund is a good decision. The ACLU of Arizona is one of the most vibrant human rights groups around with an impressive history, both in the recent and distant past, of fighting human right abuses by individuals and government personnel. The group can only do better with such financial assistance. You may need to know the story behind the fund.
Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, co-founders of Village Voice and Phoenix New Times and Media, decided to dedicate the $3.75 settlement money arising from their court victory, which followed their arrest by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to fund human, civil and migrant rights organizations in Arizona and its environs. It all started on the 18th of October, 2007, when some armed men illegally bundled these two journalists out of their home in the thick of darkness. They were mal-handled and jailed without court conviction all because they blew open a high level jury proceeding meant to bury the atrocities of the Sheriff and save him from facing prosecution.
On knowing that their forceful home ejection came from the orders of the County, Lacey and Larkin took the case to court and demanded $3.75 million for the humiliation they suffered. Hearings took placed in the United States Court of Appeal culminating in a loss for the County and a resounding victory for Lacey and Larkin. The court mandated the Sheriff to pay the money among other penalties. Being activists themselves, Lacey and Larkin decided to empower other human right activists and groups. The yardsticks for selecting groups to be supported were not made public. However, it is obvious from those that made the list that vibrancy and impressive track records were considered.
It is not impossible to have people who may still be unconvinced that the ALCU of Arizona deserved a spot on the list of civil right groups to benefit from the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. A look at some of the exploits of the group since inception will make you applaud the decision.
ACLU started out on a good note. Formed in 1959 and by 1960 it was in court fighting a state law against multi-racial marriage, which it eventually won. Whether it is the rights of individuals or groups, the ACLU of Arizona has never fail to go all out when the need arises. Its defense of laborer Ernesto Miranda readily comes to mind. He was illegally convicted of rape with no evidence other than his police confession.
In 2007, the ACLU of Arizona was the brain behind the history-making lawsuit, Melendres v. Arpaio, culminating in a 2013 ruling that convicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies of masterminding racial profiling of Latinos in traffic stops.
Day laborers will never forget the ACLU of Arizona in a hurry. The organization went all out in defense of their free of speech when it came under fierce challenge. The ACLU of Arizona was a conspicuous name on the list of the legal team that called for the abolition of Arizona’ infamous “Papers Please”.
If when the ACLU of Arizona had little fund, they could used it judiciously and recorded important feats in the fight against human rights abuses, there is thus no doubt that the coming of the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will empower the organization to do more.