An Intricate Balance

The American Constitution is a magnificent documentation defining how Americans should live with one another and the whole world. For every power and right it grants human beings, it grants them responsibility as well. It was conjured knowing that for every brave dark soul, there exist numerous good souls who can brave to challenge them. It defines a complex balance of power within its borders that upholds human dignity and freedoms not only for Americans but for the entire world that interacts with America.

It does not justify or allow the unjust denial of rights to non-Americans within its borders. High-intolerance areas especially continuously illuminate the supremacy of the Constitution because all who abuse it flagrantly receive condemnation from the entire world. Such is the balance that exists in Arizona; a state that has experienced one of its counties in Phoenix ordered to fire its top three officials for abuse of office.

Maricopa County had been under the tyranny of Sheriff Joe Arpaio for far too long before they were saved by Larkin and Lacey. The self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America had been harassing the citizens and bullying his critics. It aggrieved many people that the sheriff was exploiting his office to persecute Hispanics and immigrants. The sheriff would raid their neighborhoods without a warrant and arrest innocents just because of their identities.

He would abuse them physically and verbally while under his custody. In fact, he had negligently let jail inmates die of treatable illnesses. Most of the 60 deaths that his office had recorded in a span of two years included deaths of illnesses that were contracted while in the jails and not before. The jails were in sub-par hygienic conditions and were considered a health hazard. Read more: Jim Larkin | Crunchbase and Michael Larcey | Twitter

Complex as the United States is, when one institution is abused and misused, other institutions will check it due to the good will of few brave individuals or pressure from a solid majority. The Phoenix Times, a media institution, took on complaints from the locals and investigated the activities of the sheriff.

After they gathered enough conclusive evidence that he was abusing his office and misappropriating county funds, they exposed him Larkin and Lacey published articles in the Phoenix Times and the Village Voice Media. They also posted those articles on the media house’s website where locals could read online. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/12/16/proceeds-arpaio-suit-fund-asu-journalism-chair/20480479/

The Sheriff had County Attorney Andrew Thomas issue grand jury subpoenas to the media house demanding their notes on the case and browsing information of people who read their articles. Such a demand is constitutional and could not be suctioned by a grand jury and therefore the attorney drafted one without consulting a grand jury.

The two veteran journalists, comprehensively aware of the law and the contents of the First Amendment of the Constitution, refused to comply. Instead, they published the subpoenas and informed the people how and why such demands were unconstitutional. The Lacey and Larkin simply refused to be intimidated. They were forcefully arrested and detained the next night and charged for violating grand jury secrecy laws.

They were freed later after the public protested. They filed a lawsuit against the county and accused the two county official and special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik for conspiring to silence the media and to suppress the public’s right to know for the sake of their pursuit of happiness. The case was won after five years of hostile litigation at the ninth circuit appellate court.

They were awarded 3.75 million dollars in compensation. They donated all that money to the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund which they use to fight for the rights of Hispanics and migrants in Arizona. The Frontera Fund also supports activist groups which pursue the rights of migrants and other minority groups financially. The initiative has created an intricate balance that keeps the Arpaio Legacy in check.

 

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