Jim Larkin and Micheal Lacey Continue their Fight for First Amendment Rights

Former owners of backpage.com , Micheal Lacey and Jim Larkin where arrested and detained by the Federal Government over the weekend of April 5th, after Backpage was seized

and shut down by the FBI because of a new law that cracks down on websites that host sex related ads and personals, by broadening a statute to “make it illegal for anyone to knowingly assist, support or facilitate a violation of the trafficking statute.” This law, “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), has been criticized by many for put sex workers in more danger, among other concerns.

Despite the fact that there no evidence that backpage.com was used for sex trafficking, the Federal Bureau of Investigation still arrested Lacey and Larkin.

Despite the fact that Larkin and Lacey sold their interest in the site as far back as 2015, the FBI still charged them because of their affiliation with the website. Lacey was planning on spending the some time with his new spouse after his wedding. Instead he was whisked away to spend some time in a Federal detention center.

Since than he has posted bail and is awaiting trial for charges of aiding prostitution. For years Backpage has fought allegations that the site was used for sex trafficking, even though there is no evidence of this, and the section used by sex workers is only a small part of the site. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikepedia and Jim Larkin | Crunchbase

Although Backpage is best known for the ads posted by sex workers in its personals section, it was also home to a host of other types of ads, including ads for garage sales and used cars.

It was designed to be an internet version of the “backpages” of the local newspaper. Even though the personals section and the sex worker ads were removed from the site ahead of the new law in January of 2017, the site was still seized by the FBI for previous activity on the site.

Jim Larkin and Micheal Lacey began their career by creating and writing for Phoenix New Times, a local alternative free press in Phoenix. They received national attention when they were arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “selective enforcement unit”, because of an article they wrote that exposed the discriminatory practices of Arpaio and his selective enforcement unit.

After only 24 hours, due to pressure from social media users, the pair was released and all charges were dropped. Unfortunately not everyone who comes into contact with Sheriff Arpaio and others like him are quite so fortunate. That is why Lacey and Larkin founded the Frontera Fund.

The Frontera Fund is a nonprofit organization that gives grants and donations to organizations that benefit the Hispanic community and immigrants.

They founded the grant with the money that they won from the first amendment battle surrounding their unlawful imprisonment, and chose to dedicate this money to the Hispanic community because of their belief in the Hispanic members of the community they grew up in, as well as the fact that Joe Arpaio target the Hispanic migrant and immigrant community of Maricopa County.

Learn more about James Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://angel.co/jim-larkin-1

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