People around the world have encouragement in the past few months as that more people are now willing to stand up and fight for rights and basic dignity—as seen in the recent women’s march, the march for science, as well as others. It’s undeniable that more and more Americans are becoming politically involved, and this is evident even with donations pouring in to human rights organizations.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the most well known organizations in the country that seeks to defend one’s rights and liberties, received more than $15 million in donations shortly before President Trump took his oath of office, and millions more a short time afterward.
A big part in advocating for human rights is engaging legislators on both sides of the aisle to sponsor bills or write letters of support in behalf of specific advocacies. Many groups have found support from both liberal and conservative lawmakers who believe in upholding human rights.
One such organization is Freedom Now, whose primary goal is to attain the freedom of prisoners of conscience though an advocacy that is threefold: political, legal and via public relations. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/relevant-links/
This may well be the silver lining for human rights groups during this time of Donald Trump’s presidency. It is possible that in the middle of policies and executive orders that threaten to curtail the freedom of vulnerable groups, much good can actually come about as people give of their time, energy and resources to fighting for human rights.
The story of Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who founded the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media, immediately comes to mind. Ten years ago, in 2007, Lacey and Larkin were arrested in their homes in the middle of the night, and were illegally detained in jail overnight. The then-sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio, known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” had ordered their arrest.
Even while major news outlets refused to see Arpaio’s actions as worthy of censure, Lacey and Larkin had written extensive accounts of Arpaio’s office’s ill treatment of prisoners, questionable financial practices, retaliation against critics, poor health conditions in the jails, political posturing as well as the anti-Latino sentiment that Arpaio spread.
Jim Larkin and Lacey, longtime defenders of First Amendment rights, sued the county, and won their case in the United States Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit.
They were awarded a $3.75 million settlement. With this amount, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey started the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, whose aim it is to provide assistance to different organizations that fight for migrant, civil and human rights, civic participation and freedom of speech in Arizona, including the Mexican border, or “la línea fronteriza,” hence the name of their organization.