On October 18, 2007, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin were arrested for reporting on court proceedings involving a local sheriff. They were jailed for their exercise of free speech and won a settlement for the injustice in the amount of 3.7 million dollars. To bring awareness to issues such as civil and migrant rights, they created a platform for other activists in Arizona to organize their influence in the fight for justice and equality.
In cooperation with the ACLU of Arizona, attention is being focused on the fight against unconstitutional laws being imposed on minorities. Only 47 years ago the organization had to fight against a law that banned interracial marriage.
Today it’s hard to imagine that once it was illegal for people of different colors to marry, but in 1960 the ACLU in Arizona fought and won their case against racism resulting in the establishment of the Miranda Warning. This right ensures that suspects do not unwittingly incriminate themselves upon their initial contact with authorities.
In 2013 the ACLU won another case involving racial profiling being conducted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies in the form of “immigration patrols” where they would target Latinos to initiate traffic stops. The conservative federal judge over the proceedings found the evidence of racial profiling unconstitutional and upheld migrant rights through his decision to prevent the sheriff from continuing his enforcement of immigration.
Through his ruling, a court monitor was appointed to work directly with the sheriff’s department to ensure that immigrant’s constitutional rights were protected.
In Arizona, there was once a state law that denied immigrants access to bail. The ACLU fought against it and the law was struck down, effectively protecting the rights of immigrant laborers against being held without the option of bailing out of jail.
Through this initiative, law enforcement was required to investigate the legal status of individuals regardless of the reason for their initial interaction. The case dismantled much of the law as it was found unconstitutional, and brought the Arizona ACLU t o the front of the fight for migrant rights at the border.
Larkin and Lacey’s foundation is now in a perilous position. Migrant rights are being attacked more under the current administration than ever before. An entire country has been vilified by an administration that rose to popularity by creating fear and divisiveness among Americans, using our ally as a common scapegoat to enforce a racist agenda.
Our country was built on the backs of immigrants, and in the face of new laws targeting these individuals, it is vital that the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund continues to represent and protect the will of Americans and those who pursue our vision. Through the support of their foundation, the ACLU of Arizona along with many other similar organizations can more effectively reach out to individuals suffering the kind of oppression they were subjected to when they were targeted by an American Institution.
Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/jim-larkin/