When Michael Lacey combined efforts with fellow students to publicize the Phoenix New Times, they were simply providing an alternative to the way the local media was covering antiwar protests by university students. Little did it occur that the journey to civil rights activism had just started as several decades later, Michael would still continue to provide alternative voices through various media.
Soon after, Lacey headed the New Times as executive editor while his long time friend and partner Jim Larkin ran the advertising edge of the newspaper. In a short time, the free weekly grew its circulation considerably and cut a niche as a source of social and political news, especially for those readers seeking an alternative insight.
Fast forward to 1983, when the New Times purchased Westword, a news and arts weekly paper. What followed was a merger that brought together 17 like-minded papers, the most established of them the Village Voice in New York City
Lacey and Larkin have had an industrious career, characterized by significant brushes with the law. In On October 18, 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested from their homes by the county Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona in conjunction with the revelation of a grand-jury jury demand to reveal readers of Phoenix New Times.
It was a case that garnered a lot of public interest, and the county attorney, Andrew Thomas later dropped the charges. Lacey and Larkin went to court suing Arpaio, Thomas, and prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, observing that they had violated their First Amendment Rights and had acted in abuse of power.
The case was settled for $3.75 million, money that had been of principal support to Arizona based civil rights groups especially those championing fight for migrants.
Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund has so far been instrumental in boosting efforts of advocacy for civil, human, and migrant rights as well as freedom of speech and civic participation throughout Arizona.
A case in point is the support given to No More Deaths, a faith-based organization in southern Arizona. The non-governmental organization has been vocal highlighting abuses on migrants and providing them with drinking water and food supplies.
Michael Lacey no doubt understands too well the impact of the media on human rights. Together with his business partner Jim Larkin, they have won several accolades in recognition of their input, including the Civil Libertarian of the Year Award presented by ACLU Foundation.
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