Helping Arizona Clean Up: The Story of Lacey, Larkin and Trauma

The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund was founded by Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin in 2013. The pair came into the money by settlement: as co-founders of the Phoenix New Times they were targeted by infamous Joe Arpaio who is also known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff”. Read more: Michael Larcey | Crunchbase

Their crime? Exposing suspicious accounting errors, serious mismanagement in his office and abuse of power against his critics. His jail was full of unsafe conditions, illegally detained citizens and lawful residents, along with many suspicious injuries and deaths; and it was these articles that landed them inside the very jails they wrote about on October 18, 2007.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office issued historically First Amendment stomping subpoenas for details about Phoenix New Times’ staff and readers going so far as to seek their IP addresses and browsing histories. Within 24 hours Lacey and Larkin were released and the story was out: more proof of this crooked sheriff’s misdeeds.

In 2013 they were awarded the $3.7 million settlement that they used to start their foundation. They have been supporting nonprofits that advocate for Hispanic community and their interests such as the Owl and Panther project to negate the harsh political and social climate in Arizona.

The Hopi Foundation’s Owl and Panther Project is specifically for refugee families resettled in the Tucson, Arizona area. They provide a nurturing, safe environment for these families who have often seen unspeakable horrors in their home countries and are now thrust into a new one. The provide mentorship and classes to the children of these families, inspiring confidence and skills needed to succeed. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/

This began with the Sanctuary Movement a part from the foundation’s Center for Prevention and Resolution of Violence in the early 1990’s. Originally focusing on Guatemalan families fleeing the civil war ravaging their country; they have now helped families from over 35 different countries.

The Owl and Panther project’s name comes from the ancient Cherokee creation story in which only the owl and the panther were the only ones still awake and so they were granted the power to see in the dark on the seventh day for their perseverance through adversity.

They strive to help these families become like the Owl and Panther and persevere through art, storytelling and counseling. They display the works of art and poetry annually at the Tucson Museum of Art often featuring the tragedies they have witnessed along their journey.

Like the Owl and Panther, these two essential organizations will continue to persevere to heal and protect the Hispanic and Latino communities in Arizona, no matter the difficulties they face legally, mentally and politically.

Defending our constitutional and human rights from those who seek to take them one step at a time is essential to our country as a whole; from the mouth of Martin Niemoller, “ … Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me- and there was no one left to speak for me“.

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