Activists

Why Jim Larkin And Michael Lacey Slammed President Trump’s Pardon Of Joe Arpaio

It may not have surprised anyone but it did outrage various residents of Phoenix, Arizona when it was announced in 2017 that President Trump had pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from any wrongdoing he might be charged with resulting from charges brought against him by a district judge. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://michael-lacey.com/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/michael-lacey/

It especially upset journalists Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey when they heard of this pardon because they had seen firsthand injustice done to people in the Latino immigrant communities.

Arpaio was also known for having inmates wear pink attire in the county jails, having certain offenders housed in a desert prison which had basically only tents for shelter and was known as Tent City. He also was known for using the power of his position to go after critics and rivals.

Larkin and Lacey have been highly critical of President Trump and his policies which have aligned at times with Arpaio’s. Their current news organization, the Frontera Fund was founded to be a platform for immigrants and for other human rights foundations around the world.

Part of their efforts have been to work with local, state and federal lawmakers on immigration reform and finding initiatives to help immigrant communities, and holding corrupt lawmakers and law enforcement agencies accountable.

Larkin and Lacey’s work began over 40 years ago during the Vietnam War, and they considered the work they did to be a voice for the activists, and it was part of the reason their original parent company was known as Village Voice Media.

Village Voice Media’s first big paper was the Phoenix New Times which the two men had dropped out of college to start in the early 1970s, and it grew from an underground newspaper into a broader independent news organizations.

The New Times branched far beyond Phoenix to having editions circulating in Florida, Colorado and California among other places. It offered a lot of different perspectives on major issues from the Vietnam War all the way to the attacks of 9/11.

Larkin and Lacey had always had a highly contentious battle with Sheriff Arpaio since the time he took office in 1992, but it was in 2007 that it reached its height.

An issue involving a real estate purchase by Arpaio through which it seemed he had received mysterious funding was being looked at by a Phoenix New Times Reporter, and Arpaio started coming down on him, and subsequently Larkin and Lacey themselves for publishing information on the case. Read more: Jim Larkin | Angel.co and Michael Lacey | Crunchbase

They were jailed and subjected to what a local judge deemed improbable cause and insufficient grounds to hold them, and after a formal hearing it was announced that all charges were dropped. Larkin and Lacey decided it was time to fight back against the abuse of power, and they began a lawsuit that lasted several years.

By 2013, the Maricopa County board of supervisors awarded them a settlement of $3.75 million and Larkin and Lacey used the funds from that to start the Frontera Fund. The foundation has grown into quite a large-scale operation.

George Soros Headlines Democracy Alliance Meeting

Politico recently published an article about a meeting of a group of liberal financiers known as the Democracy Alliance, which was founded in 2004 after George Soros and other major Democratic Party and progressive donors were unsuccessful in helping to unseat George W. Bush. At the dawn of a Trump presidency, the membership of the club, 100 or so wealthy magnates and financiers, met to analyze their failure to ensure Hillary Clinton’s election.

Soros does not usually attend DA meetings, and it is even rarer for him to address the group directly, so his role as a keynote speaker at the event suggests his investment in preventing a second Trump term. After scaling down his financial commitment to progressive causes during the Obama years, George Soros has once again pledged his financial support by contributing $25 million to the Clinton campaign as well as other liberal organizations endorsed by the DA, such as Media Matters and the Center for American Progress. During primary season, George Soros famously likened Trump and fellow GOP candidate Tom Cruz to ISIS.

Read more: The Capitalist Threat

Membership in Democracy Alliance requires payment of a $30,000 annual dues fee and a commitment to provide a minimum of $200,000 in financial support to organizations approved by the organization. This post-election DA event brought together members and Democratic congressional leaders, such as Nancy Pelossi and Elizabeth Warren, as well as major union leaders and leaders of other major progressive organization. Some attendees felt that a complete overhaul of liberal strategy was called for, given that this was an election Clinton was clearly capable of winning. They believe that the strategy of appealing mainly to the “rising electorate” of women and minority voters was flawed as Trump’s victory relied on white working class voters. Others point to the fact Clinton was able to secure a majority of the popular vote as proof that current approach is working, and it is simply a matter of increasing turnout among key liberal demographics.

At the meeting, George Soros tied in his personal experience as a Holocaust survivor and his experience living under communist rule with the prospect of a Trump presidency. Whether liberal donors decide to tweak their strategy or completely re-tool, it is clear that Soros considers the election of Trump to be extremely dangerous, and if his level of financial commitment in 2016 is any indication, he will likely continue to ramp up his support to ensure Democratic victory in the midterm elections and four years from now.

Read more about George Soros on Forbes
Find out more about George Soros on Politico.com

Steps To Take Before Becoming An Activist

People like Yeonmi Park are rare who find their calling at an early age. There are some causes that speak personally to some people while others have to find out what appeals to them. Either way is fine because ultimately, as Yeonmi Park says, everyone wants to do some good in the world and doing good should not be a guilty pleasure.

Becoming an activist at an early age and being just 19, Yeonmi Park has a lot of experience with the do’s and don’ts of becoming an activist. The most important thing, according to her, is taking certain steps before making the decision which would ensure that human rights activism (or any other kind of activism) is the right decision for an individual.

Talk To Other Activists – The first step is finding out other activists to get some much needed first hand information. For people who choose to be activists, there are many local avenues to explore. Yeonmi Park recommends starting with organizations and then checking out their list of volunteers. Certain organizations also have a help desk who help volunteers make up their mind and reach a decision that would be best for them.

Read About Important Activists – There are many important activists who have helped shape the world. From wars to revolutions, these activists are the reason why most of the luxuries that the current generation of the world takes for granted are available. It is important to read about them to get an idea about the challenges that an activist has to face. These books are also a great way to get motivated by becoming an activist because the perks – in Yeonmi Park’s case, human right protection – are worth it. New volunteers and activists should visit their local library to check out various books on the cause they are supporting.

Understand The Life Of An Activist – It is one thing to talk to fellow activists and read about historic events where important activists have played a part and quite another to actually live that life. The life of an activist is in no way easy and Yeonmi Park wants everyone to use that as their strength instead of a scary topic. She wants people to know that nothing worth having ever comes easily and important issues are just like that.

Find Online Forums and Workshops – Because of the immense popularity of the internet, it is not difficult to research about activism and the life of activists. There are multiple forums, often provided by organization themselves, to help new volunteers get their doubts cleared by current members. These forums and workshops aim to not only educate new volunteers on current issues but also equip them to deal with certain problems they would eventually have to face.

Finally, Yeonmi Park adds that activists should try and understand the cause and the reasoning behind it before they join it.

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