This is an interview with Julian Klugman Wednesday July 14, 1999 in the afternoon, and
we're at Julian's house.
We've started a conversation about CRS, Julian just said that the really important stuff started
around 1985 involving the schools. CRS went through stages, do you want me to just talk?
I knew Ben Holman, he was a personal friend of mine, that's
came to CRS.
And who was Ben Holman?
Ben Holman was the director of CRS for 8 years. CRS was a project of Lyndon Johnson's.
The idea was to set up a mediation service to deal with problems that had come out of the 1964
Civil Rights Act regarding interstate commerce. They thought when the hotels and public
accommodations integrated, they were going to have a lot of lawsuits, a lot of problems. Lyndon
Johnson had been Vice President. His way was mediation, although the '64 act was really bi-
partisan. There were more Republicans voting for the act than Democrats. People don't
remember that. It was Senator Dirksen from Illinois, and the majority of the republicans voted
for it, not the democrats. You had the southern Democrats who at that time all voted against it.
But they broke the filibuster and passed the '64 act.
But what happened, basically, is that businesses in the South, with a few notable exceptions,
complied. They knew they would have to do it; it made good business sense; they did it. The
young students had gone out there and made it very clear they weren't going to put up with
anything else. These were real heroes, the people on the buses. I lived in Little Rock in 1957
just before the Governor got up on the steps of Central High School. CRS was formed in 1964
and a year later the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965 changed the whole ball game.
Leroy Collins was the first director. CRS was put in the Commerce Department because they
thought it would handle public accommodations, and when that didn't happen, they moved CRS
over to the Justice Department, and Collins was promoted up to Under Secretary of Commerce.
Then they brought in Roger Wilkins who was the nephew of the head of NAACP (Roy
Wilkins). He became director and he was the protegee of the Deputy Attorney General
of the United States. Then Ben Holman was hired.
I met Ben when I got out of the army in 1957. I moved into Prairie Shores in Chicago, which
was really the first high rise integrated building. Ben was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News
and we worked together in the Independent Voters of Illinois. We were both very idealistic and
we became close friends. Years later Ben became director of Community Relations Service. I
had just gone out to Seattle, and he offered me a job. So I went to work for CRS.
What year was that?
1970. I was with CRS for twenty-seven years. I spent a year in Washington, as a program
development and evaluation officer, and then I came out to the West coast.
Before we follow up on that, what were you doing professionally before you came to CRS?
I grew up on the near northwest side of Chicago, and I got into the University of Chicago,
went to graduate school, under the old Oxford plan. The University of Chicago tried to
transplant Oxford University to the United States. They finally dropped it in 1955. The idea
was that you can go to college at 16 if you pass certain tests. I graduated from high school at 16,
went to the University of Illinois for two years at the old Navy Pier before they had a campus. I
took courses in graduate school in human development. When I went into the army, it was
the end of the Korean war. After the army I got into independent politics. I went to work for a
group called the South Shore Commission (S.S.) for 8 years. South Shore was integrating,
because blacks were moving in from Woodlawn. I moved to South Shore, and I became
director at S.S. for 8 years. I knew Saul Alinsky, the community organizer. Then Ben had gone
from the Daily News to become the first black in Chicago television. Then he became director
of CRS. So I went from community organizing to CRS. I don't think I would've worked for the
Justice Department otherwise.
At that time CRS had shifted. When Ben came in, they were shifting into a programmatic
approach. They had had a crisis response approach. In '65 they were responding from the seat
of their pants and they hired a lot of people to deal with the L.A. riots. That sort of ran out and
they wanted to do something that was really meaningful, but they didn't know how to develop a
programmatic approach. The people they had hired were community action people. Ben
brought me in because he knew me, and I'd come out of community organizing. I really was
talking to the community. He wanted somebody he knew he could trust. So that's how he
initiated program development. He had a split in the Western region staff and so he asked me if
I'd go out to San Francisco. So I did, not knowing what I was getting into. The situation
changed again, after I was out here.
What year was this?
I came out in 1970. Starting in 1972, the agency was growing, growing, growing. When I
came out here, there were 40 professionals, 8 offices, and they were opening new offices. Then
Mr. Nixon ran into some problems as did his attorney general, John Mitchell. We grew under
Mitchell. They hadn't the slightest idea how to deal with minorities, which maybe was good.
They needed CRS. The Vietnam War was going on. I remember being part of a team going to
Northwestern University to talk to the students. We were sitting in the dining room and
somebody threw a rock through this huge glass window. There was really nasty stuff coming
down at that time. CRS tried to go into programmatic development when the Republicans got
into really serious trouble and we started getting cut back. Then came Wounded Knee, which
changed everything again. CRS was there and we shifted from program development to
Why did Wounded Knee create that shift?
It was something that got into the headlines. Holman was smart
enough to shift very quickly into mediation after Wounded Knee because they basically cut CRS
in half, saying we were duplicating programmatically what everyone else was doing. So we all
went to New York for mediation training. There were only two people doing mediation training.
One was Bill Abner, originally a black organizer for UAW. Bill Abner started community
mediation for the American Arbitration Association. Tragically, he was killed on an airplane
flight, but out of his work, the American Arbitration Association developed training. We did
two weeks of training with them. The other training group was the Center for Conflict
Resolution, also in New York. We had 3 weeks of training in New York. They were the first
people to set up a television studio and tape everything, which was very effective. They brought
in community people like Geraldo Rivera. He was one of the community guys they brought in.
They would set up situations and we thought we were smart. We thought we knew what we
were doing. You watch yourself on TV; it's a very effective way. You're the mediator and they
would throw all kinds of false stuff out. Anyway, we had a total of five weeks of training. Then
we got involved in Wounded Knee and we got involved in mediation and that was 1973. We've
been doing mediation since '73.
How long did you stay at CRS?
Almost twenty-seven years. I was regional director for twenty-six years. I was in
Washington for a little less than a year and then I came out here.
When did you retire?
I retired two and a half years ago. My last hurrah was the Republican Convention in San
Diego in 1996, which was interesting, and I retired Jan. 1. When I came out here, the first thing
I covered was the United Farm Workers. I didn't know anything about Mexicans. I knew about
black people of course, because black people are very prominent in Chicago. But I didn't know
anything about Mexican Americans.
We'd now like you to talk about a particular case- to get down to specifics about what you
and how you did it. Not something as exceptional as Wounded Knee, which is really out there,
but a case that has sufficient meat on it that you think there's quite a few lessons in
That's hard because you see we were really the center of the storm for several years. We
worked with the farm workers. We had the Navajo nation. We didn't have Wounded Knee, but
we had half the Indians in the country in Arizona. We were involved with the Navajos and the
Hopi, although we didn't mediate that dispute directly. Nobody did. People claim credit for it,
but it never got mediated. To this day it isn't mediated. It was legally settled and the old people
are dying out, but it never got settled.
Did CRS consider getting in that one?
We didn't. We were never asked to go. Because of the large population of
Americans in our region, we were involved in the United Farm Workers. CRS became multi-
racial, multi-ethnic before the rest of the country did. CRS was still very focused on the black-
white thing and then it became focused on the black-white-Mexican thing, reluctantly in a way.
Ben Holman was smart enough to hire a Mexican lawyer who became director. Gil Pompa came
in as assistant director. Gil came in and set up an incredible network of Mexican American
leaders in this country. Then Gil became director.
Starting in '91 after the Rodney King incident, the whole ball game changed on law enforcement,
and of course we were heavily involved in that. I got us involved in
dealing with multiracial problems in schools. We became involved in problem solving with the
Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). We worked in over 50 school
districts. We put on workshops and we developed a new problem solving approach.
If we could get you to sort of expound on the school system, how did you became aware of
that crisis, how did it even come to you?
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) had put some things together.
Howden had gone to training with the FMCS and they were using a technique where there were
chronic work stoppages. There might be labor agreements, but still there were wildcat strikes.
FMCS developed this problem solving approach in which people were grouped by occupation.
They would put the foremen and the managers in different groups. Initially, they set up
homogeneous groups based on occupational status and they would get them to talk about
problems and then they would compare results. They would see where there was consensus
about what the problems in the plant were, although there was disagreement about how the
problems occurred and what you did about it. For example, absenteeism. Oh yeah, this is a real
problem, everyone agreed, but the workers would ascribe it to one thing, the foremen might
ascribe it to something else, top management something else, middle management something
else. They would get a consensus on the problem, maybe on three quarters of the problems, and
then they would get mixed teams to talk about solutions. Recognizing the solution, they would
then develop a work plan. That is the significant thing. It wasn't trying to change attitudes of
We were dealing with multiracial fights at a high school in Stockton. There were at least five
distinct groups at this high school. There is a substantial black population in Stockton, so there
were African Americans. There were the whites, including the kids from the outlying areas, the
"rednecks" if you will, who were actually different from the white kids in town. There were two
Asian populations, a third-generation Chinese population (the second oldest Chinese community
compared to San Francisco) and new Vietnamese. Then there were Hispanics, mostly Mexican
immigrant workers, who were one step away from the fields. There were a lot of fights. Of
course these kids don't see each other as human beings, they see each other as "them," the other
I used the FMCS approach. Why don't we try to do this in the schools and we'll split them apart
by race. Also, I was hearing that the Asian kids won't talk, particularly the new Asian kids. I
said we'll put them in separate areas and we'll get an Asian facilitator and see if they'll talk.
Same with the Hispanic kids. They won't talk. Bill Briggs was my education specialist and Ed
Howden was my mediator. (There was only one mediator at that time.) I pushed this for a year.
There was a black principal who finally said yes. He ultimately got fired, but he was desperate
enough to do something. We went in there and we did it. I had the whites, I had the redneck
kids, and by that time I was working with Vermont McKinney. Vermont had the black kids and
he really made a tremendous difference.
Is he retired or still working?
No still working. I forget who got the Hispanics, I don't remember, I don't think Angel
Alderete was there. Anyway, we did it, and it was incredible. We were worried that the kids
wouldn't talk. We had them in homogeneous groups the first day and the second day we put
them into mixed groups.
Let's back up, who did you call initially when you said, "Hey
this sounds like a good idea."
Did you call the school system, can you walk us through this?
You have to call the superintendent first. We had program specialists, Bill Briggs was an
education specialist, so he got permission through the superintendent of schools. The power is at
the top, but the principal runs the school, so you really need both. I knew a black woman on the
school board. When there's a poor school system, poor quality police department, who gets the
bottom of the ladder, the people with the problems who need help. Anyway, we got them to say
"yes," and the kids were just amazed by us because we took them seriously.
First of all, they have to agree to some things before you do this. I have prerequisites, I won't do
it unless it's okay from the top and the principal goes with it. I won't do it unless there's an
agreement up front that there will be a student group formed which will meet on a regular basis.
We're going to have a work plan. Also subsequently we learned some other things. I won't go in
and do it if there is a weak principal because it's a complete waste of time. If the principal's the
problem, forget it, because this is hard to do.
What about teacher involvement?
We tried that. Teacher involvement, parent involvement. We tried that, it's too ambitious.
You're talking about fights between students. That's what you focus on. But subsequently when
I got into workshops for the Association of California School Administrators, we divided it other
ways; we did it by school systems. I would get 5 to 10 school systems together because it was
too slow to do it by school. In L.A., they set up sub districts, like 16 schools. We took one sub-
district out in the Valley, 16 schools that were going through a lot of racial change. In fact it
wasn't just racial, it was ethnic changes as well. They were getting the Russians; they were
getting the Iranians. So we split different ways. I would end up with school superintendents;
somebody else ended up with the principals. We did try to do it with parents, except we couldn't
get the Hispanic parents to participate. We tried to do it through the Catholic church. We spent
an incredible amount of time trying to get the service employees involved. That first school
system, we tried to get everybody involved. (I remember, with the Mexican kids, I used Ada
Did you choose or did the kids self select?
Neither, the teachers did. But we changed that later. So with the
Mexican kids, for example, they didn't include any of the gang guys. Well, the word got around
that something was really going on, so two of the Mexican gang guys showed up at Ada's group
and they wouldn't let them in. Ada asked, "What should I do? Let them in?" Sure. I remember
when I walked into my group, the first kid I saw, his name was Rusty and he was dressed to fit
his role. He had rings in his ears, and he had tattoos. This kid was really far out. But he turned
out to be extremely bright. I just didn't let his appearance bother me. He was the most
How large was your group?
Fifteen, which turned out to be good. That turned out to be the right size, any bigger isn't
good, any smaller is too small. We did get cross sections. It turned out to be very successful.
The school district adopted a number of the recommendations. Some were small, like there's a
bump in the parking lot that really irritated people. They eliminated the bump. The food was
just atrocious; the food got improved. But somebody wanted a new stadium.
What about the race relations, did that improve too?
Yeah, they stopped fighting.
What were the issues, when we get down to them, you said a bump in the road and...
I'd have to dig out the file.
Can you think offhand what were some of the issues of the various groups?
Yeah, there were a lot of issues. They had academic tracking, and the minority kids got
in the lower tracks. They got locked into those tracks. Everybody agreed the tracking wasn't
good. The second day we went into the mixed groups,
So the first day?
Mixed groups. Then we were talking about solutions. When you're talking about problems,
you stay in the homogeneous groups. They feel comfortable; they're willing to talk. Then they
can come up with solutions together. That's where you start facilitating, you have to bring out
the Asian kids, the Hispanic kids and so on. The black kids, compared to the other kids, seemed
Were you a spokesperson for any group?
I had the white group the first time.
So were you a spokesperson or did they speak themselves?
Oh no, no, no, they elect the spokespersons. One boy and one girl, and then they have two
Did you have problems when you got the groups together?
Of getting them to trust each other and to work together effectively?
We're talking about problem solving, we're talking about solving
the problems they've agreed on. I mean you're a facilitator, that's where you're encouraging the
Asian kids to talk. If you've got a kid who talks too much, you hold it down. I'm bringing a lot
of skills, small group skills into that situation. I don't talk a lot when I'm facilitating. I'm
hearing, I'm focusing, they talk a lot.
How much are you helping them frame ideas, come up with solutions?
A lot, again, I'm bringing in all this knowledge that I'm helping
them with. And I don't tell them what to do, but if they ask, if I see an opening, I will make a
suggestion. And I'm a reality agent for them. "We want to build a stadium." "You can try it.
Want to talk about how you get stadiums built?" "What are you going to need to do this?"
I am a firm believer that people can change this system. I'm an old community
organizer, you don't tell people what to do, you help them.
How do you help them?
There are rules, like you don't let people scream or yell at each other. You have an agenda;
the agenda is we're going to work together. Why? Not because you love each other. I'm not
trying to change attitudes. I think prejudice reduction programs are very limited. It's just
common sense, you change behavior, and through changing behavior, you change attitudes. I'm
not interested in white guilt, I've never operated on white guilt. I do it because this is our
society; I believe in democracy. This is how it's going to work. Blacks can't do it by themselves,
and whites can't do it by themselves, nor can Asians. So we have do it together, and this is
becoming increasingly true in this country.
Your only goal is to get them to be able to work together? Would you go into a situation
having in your mind some other goal you would like to see happen?
That's what a mediator is supposed to do. As a professional, that's what you're doing. You
take pride in getting the issue resolved. No, I mean there are limits, I put limits on myself, I
would not mediate with the KKK.
I'm not interested. I sat and I listened in L.A. at the Coliseum to Louis Farrakhan for an
He is very anti-Semitic. He builds on hatreds of whites, which certainly you can understand if
you're black. He appeals to the lowest element in the black community. You can work with
them, but they won't mediate. It's like working with some other groups, for example,
fundamentalist white groups who won't mediate. Also Orthodox Jews. You don't mediate with
people who operate only on faith; they won't mediate. You can work with them, you can make
deals sometimes, but that isn't real mediation because they won't budge. So black Muslims are
that way, there are Jews like that, there are white groups like that. There are mediators who are
that way. They have the answer, they have the technique, they don't mediate, they are selling a
So the school thing I think was significant, and we did it for a number of years. We've been in a
lot of school districts. When the director of ACSA was interested in what I was doing, we did it.
Association of California School Administrators. They were interested, and then they got
some minority staff. If you know the education field you know that most of the superintendents
were white males. Very few minorities, very few women. It's starting to change now slowly,--
I'm talking about the superintendent level. At the principal level, there's more change. ACSA is
all the administrators, statewide. The superintendents nationally have a separate group. So the
school thing I think was significant. You want to call this mediation? I don't know. Problem
solving is used in a lot of different ways now, for me it was a very specific thing. It had very
Did it differ from mediation?
In what way?
I learned mediation out of labor mediation, so it really was
taking labor mediation principles
and applying them to community disputes. So it's mediation.
At that time, though, we were very, very concerned about empowerment. Minority groups didn't
know how to do it. Later, black and Mexican groups became much more sophisticated and we
were also working with the Indians, the Native Americans. You were three quarters of the way
there if you could get a police department or a school system to sit down with the NAACP.
little towns would have little pockets of black people and NAACP chapters. The NAACP didn't
have any staff, so we were servicing them. The empowerment was extremely important, and we
were the U.S. Justice Department.
How did you do it?
We didn't do it, the black community did it. But we backed them. They did it partly by
school boycotts because California school districts get paid by school day attendance. If your
kid isn't in school, the school district doesn't get the bucks from the state. So that became
We weren't advocates for the black community. I didn't have a right to speak for the black
community, neither did my black staff members. But there were things wrong there, all kinds of
things wrong tied to the school system. They were in violation of the employment laws.
Usually blacks were really being mistreated. It's like the South, as soon as you got out of the big
cities. It was hard, it took years of work, then gradually I got to know everybody, and I got to
know where the bodies were buried. My staff got to know people, so you weren't just coming in,
you knew what was going on in that town.
When the agency decided to do mediation, nobody knew how to do
it, including Ed Howden, and Howden was our mediator. I went up to Seattle, as part of our
training. I had to do mediation. Bob Lamb, our regional director up in Seattle, had developed a
case in Klammath Falls, Oregon, involving a tribe of Indians. I mediated this case, my first time
for mediation. I went up to Klammath Falls and Bob introduced me around; they'd been waiting
four months for me to come.
You have to visualize Klammath Falls, it's right near Crater Lake. Originally it was all Indian
land. It was a mediation case involving law enforcement, and I'd never done a mediation case.
First they want to start
mediating right away, I said I don't think we're ready, but go ahead. They fumbled along for
about an hour and they said well maybe we should do some preparation. So then I met
separately with each group. There were five law enforcement officials including the sheriff.
They had a room called the tepee where they used to put the Indian kids who got drunk on
Saturday nights. So we had the sheriff, we had the city police chief, who was pretty good, the
state police with their lieutenant, the DA, who was also pretty good, and the Park Service on one
side. Then you had the Indians on the other side. There was an AIM group, so there was a lot
going on there. There was an Indian woman who was the matriarch. She seemed to be the one
holding it together.
But it had to be done publicly, because nobody completely trusted anybody. CRS had a rule,
you couldn't do mediation publicly, but I did it real fast, I did it in two days, and by the time Ben
Holman got wind of it and called me up and said what are you doing, it was done. Success. The
Indians initially didn't know what they were doing, so we spent time working on preparing for
mediation, and that was very important. You had to train the minority group if they didn't know
what they were doing or how to do mediation.
How did you do that?
Well, you get down to basics. I mean it's common sense. What are the issues? You have to
agree on a certain number of issues, so we agreed on 12 issues. There were no Indians in the
whole county on staff. Of course, they had to start hiring Indians. They did, they had to hire one
right away, that was part of the agreement and there had to be a plan to hire more. We talked
about arrest procedures and how they handled the Indian kids.
The sheriff wouldn't sign the agreement, but he didn't talk against it. We isolated him, we
boxed him in. The county hired this lawyer to represent him, and he starts raising all these
questions, and I just wouldn't recognize him. "Why are you doing this?" "Because I'm the
mediator and that's how we do it." You just move ahead sometimes. But you have to be careful,
you can't move beyond the group. I sat down with this Indian woman, the matriarch, and she
decided to trust me. That was the key.
And how did you build that trust?
Just talking, telling her what I was going to do, and who I was,
where I was coming from and
she just decided to take a chance.
Did it happen in one sitting?
Yeah, we spent about two hours together and we talked and I didn't violate her trust, and I
briefed her. She got briefed on everything. Then we set up a group to monitor the agreement. I had noticed two older white
women who were coming to the sessions and they were from the League of Women Voters.
Klammath Falls, Oregon is a little town, but it turned out all the professional women, all the
wives of professionals, belonged to the League of Women Voters. I found out talking to these
women that Indians was one of their study topics. So I had a meeting at 11:30 at night after one
of my sessions, in my hotel room, all these 10 white ladies, sitting on my bed. Everything had to
be voted on, and I said, "Come on, we have to move and they had an emergency board meeting
with me." I just laid it out. "You're going to be on the cover of the such-and-such magazine,"
and I really sold it to them. They voted right then and there to be the monitoring group. They
were the status women's group in town.
That was acceptable to the Native Americans?
Yeah, they had a relationship with the woman, the matriarch. She's dead now, but
she was an incredible woman. I had to call a recess once because her son, who was on the team,
got mad. You don't get publicly mad at the sheriff, not in this town.
You don't have that kind of power. I went on the side and with the mother and the son, I said,
"Don't do that, don't bad mouth the sheriff."
I met with every one of those people before the mediation so I knew where they were coming
from. I had the city police chief on my side. I kept it on an even keel. What couldn't we get?
We couldn't get an affirmative action plan, but we got an Indian hired right away as a full time
county employee. We set up a permanent group to meet with law enforcement that became the
body where complaints would come. Everything was in writing. I'm very specific, I want
specific results, I want people responsible. That's my approach.
One of my last cases was a case here in a run down hotel. It had 60
residents, among whom were recovering drug addicts. They're living in this really run down
housing which happened to be owned and managed by one of the national firms. I got an
agreement in two hours, a very specific agreement. Why? Because they were violating laws all
over the place. This place was a fire trap. There were two people in that building who had
organized the meeting, who were political. I wouldn't deal with that, I'm not into dealing with
the political thing. I would not let them take over the meeting. But I got everybody at the
meeting to talk. I mean people were drifting in and out, but I had the whole building there.
Halfway through the meeting, here's this little black gentleman who probably hadn't bathed in
three weeks and he went and he took a bath and put on his best clothes and came down. I really
respected that guy. It meant something that he was sober, he had dressed up and I got him to
talk. He had some good ideas and that's what it's all about.
Were you always able to control the elements?
No, you have to be flexible. I learned that working with kids years
ago. When I went through college, I worked with 5 year old little boys. I learned you have to be
flexible and work with a short attention span. Mediation has some of the same elements. One of
the first thing I did with those little five year old boys was to say, "Let's take a vote. Should we
cross the street together?" They all voted against me and that's the last time I've ever asked a
group when I can't accept their decision. Don't let people vote on something if you're not
prepared to give them what they want. I believe in people. If you give people a chance, they
usually will come to a good decision, but you've got to give them power and don't kid them.
When I was director of that community group in Chicago, and you wanted a zoning change, it
wasn't my board that made that decision. You're the builder. You want to make a zoning
change, I'll arrange for you to come and talk to the block club, the people who live on that block.
They have to buy what you're saying. They're the people you have to deal with. At that time my
block clubs were about half white, half black, but they all were pretty much the same
economically. Sometimes the group is not sufficiently organized. Sometimes they're not ready
and sometimes you have to tell them that.
What was a sign that you would look for to say you're not ready?
Well, first of all, you have to see who's talking in the community. You don't need the whole
community. You could have 10%. You have to represent something, and particularly after
Watts, after the riot, a lot of leaders crystallized. There are leaders in the black community, and
there are blacks who are leaders to the white community, and there are Hispanics and so on.
They're not the same people usually. You represent the group of people who say you represent
I talked to a sheriff in Arizona once and he said, "Well I don't have a problem. I want the FBI to
come in and do an investigation and clear it up." But they really don't do that. My response to
him was, "You're a poor county, and you have 300 poor Mexican-Americans living in this
county who have signed a petition saying that law enforcement is bad. Therefore you have a
serious police community relations problem in your county." Let's deal with it, let's find out
what they're concerned about.
That's the other thing, what can you mediate? You can't mediate law
violations. The woman who was killed at Riverside, the black woman in the car, and they said
they thought she had a gun. You can't mediate that. You prove it or you don't prove it. You
can't mediate civil rights violations. You can mediate arrest procedures. So you've got to
separate that out. You can work on complaint procedures. Non-negotiable demands, that's not
mediation. You want a police review board? You've got to have the political clout to
do it. The
cops will fight you every step of the way. You can set up an advisory committee.
Nobody likes anybody looking over their shoulder, unless they absolutely have to-doctors,
lawyers, mediators, whomever.
Starting in '91 with Rodney King, the whole ball game changed because there it was on TV, for
everybody to see. But I used the problem solving approach again. We went to the L.A. County
Police Chiefs Association. I said, "Law enforcement will never be the same again, it's going to
change. And either you guys are going to be involved in the change or it's going to change in
spite of you, but it's going to change." Actually we had a summit with the NAACP, the Hispanic
Advisory Council, and an Asian coalition group. We would not let the press in. I also had 12
police chiefs and the L.A. deputy chief.
What was the goal?
The goal was, again, problem solving, getting people to work together. You have no idea
resistant some police chiefs were. Some police departments are so resistant to change, it's
incredible. I sat and I listened and I said, " This is what we're going to do. You're going to have
to change." The goal was to set up a permanent group and we did. We did have a press
conference afterwards. The first day we met in homogeneous groups and we talked about
problems. The second day we got into mixed groups. I wouldn't let anybody take over, although
there was a Hispanic woman who wanted to have the press in. But we did not let her do it.
If the police and some of the sheriffs were very resistant, how did you get them to come?
I sat, I listened and I let them look at themselves, how unreasonable they were being. As a
reality agent, I reminded them they were going to have to do something.
But why should they believe you?
Because they believed what they saw with Rodney King. They're not stupid; they're
survivors. Timing is a big part, if something's going to happen. I
don't believe in training where there are no problems. For example, if you don't have any racial
problems, that's fine; that's the end of the discussion. But, then if we talk a little more, maybe
there are a few racial problems. That's one of the ingredients, you have to admit you've got
problems. If you think you don't have problems, forget it, you're not going to go anywhere.
But it sounds like what you're saying is that you're willing to kind of talk for a while to
convince them they have problems. They don't just say, "No we don't have problems," then you
Oh, I will. I don't have time to waste. You're a superintendent and you want me to come in
train your people because there might be problems? Because race relations are a good idea?
That's not me. I'll give you the names of ten people who can do that. Five of them will be black,
five of them will be Hispanic, eight of them will be women and they'll come in and train your
people in race relations. And what will it mean? Absolutely nothing. Because look, you have to
admit you've got problems, number one. Number two, you can do something about the
problems. "Well it's the fault of the families, it's all in the home." Forget it. I can't go into your
home, but I sure as hell can do something with the kids in school and with the teachers and with
the principal and so on. We can do something about it. Number three, if you're willing to let
people in, it's going to be a cooperative effort. We're not going to do it for people. You don't do
it for people, you do with people because, otherwise, training won't work. Number four, it's tied
into the system. It's not separate. It's not a separate race relations program. There are things
going on during the day at the school. It's 40 hours; you've got to become part of that 40 hours.
You have to be planned into it. "We don't have time." You have to make time. If you don't
have time to do it, then nothing's going to happen. It's tied into a system of reward and
punishment, because if you don't reward or punish people for the behavior you want, nothing
Harry Truman integrated the U.S. army which was still happening when I was in the army in
1955. He said, "We're going to integrate." It took years to do it, but they did it. They did
something very simple that changed everything. They said, "You cannot get promoted from
second lieutenant to first lieutenant if you have racial problems and you're not dealing with it."
It is a priority thing in the army and you won't get your promotion. That made all the difference
in the world. Out of that came the Armed Forces Institute, because when people are motivated,
then the training means something.
We set up new training when the Southeast Asians came. First of all, they lumped all of the
Southeast Asians together. Then, secondly, the social service agencies controlled them. The
first groups were brought in by the CIA, so those were the political groups. Then the Catholic
Social Services brought in a whole bunch of people. These social workers wouldn't let go; they
were very controlling. I couldn't get near the first two groups of Vietnamese because of the
social workers. By the time the third group came, and then the Laotians came, they had an
organization along with a family association. We were then able to work with the Southeast
I wanted to get the police and the Southeast Asians together because the Southeast Asians were
afraid. Usually they were moving into the poor white, black, and Hispanic neighborhoods, and
the thieves in all three of those groups were glad to beat them up and take their money. They
were pigeons, in a poor neighborhood; they couldn't protect themselves. These were little
people; they didn't speak English.
We had a conference. We got money from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and we had a
deputy school superintendent and a deputy police chief. They started organizing politically in
Oakland. Some of the Asian groups came and the police got concerned so they set up an Asian
advisory committee. And they made the Oakland deputy chief the head of it, so the power was
from the top. At the conference there were about two hundred people. First, the cops wanted
separate workshops for the Southeast Asians, and I just wouldn't do it. "We're going to have
workshops together, that's just how we're going to do it, because there's just no point otherwise."
Secondly, I wouldn't pay for the cops, they have plenty of money. I took the money we did have
and I required every city that was sending people to send somebody from law enforcement and
some people from the Southeast Asian community and we paid for the Southeast Asians because
they didn't have any money. We ran that for about 10 years. Again, it's the same ingredients,
people talking to each other and some significant things happen there. Back to law enforcement.
We had this summit in Los Angeles and a group came out of it. The group stayed alive for
about 4 years, meeting periodically. We got into four sub committees that identified specific
problems. We had community representation in each of these groups, and we developed
programs for each committee.
The police eventually bought into this?
Some of the police did. There were some police chiefs that have never bought in. Some
departments, you work with who you can work with. When Janet Reno came on, I got her to
talk to the group.
How do you get around the issue that you referred to very early on, that you're not neutral,
that you are very often taking the side of the low power group. Does that get you in trouble with
the high power group?
Sure. You've got to be very careful. That's the problem in CRS.
not really an advocate though, I was an advocate earlier. You're working for the U.S. Justice
Department, so you're not an advocate. There were people in CRS when I came in who
pretended they were advocates.
Tell me a little bit more about the difference. What makes you not an advocate?
You're an advocate for people if they tell you. So you only represent people if they say you
can represent them. You're not a leader unless you have followers. There are a lot of
people running around some of the minority communities who pretend to be leaders. A big
mouth doesn't make you a leader. In fact if you're going to a meeting, it's not the person that's
shooting their mouth off that you have to be wary of; it's the guy or the woman sitting in the
back of the room who doesn't say "boo," but every time somebody says something they look to
that person. That's who you have to watch.
At the same time, I'm sure as hell aware of the law. I'll go talk to a police chief, I look at the
police department, and he's only got one or two blacks working for him in a community that's
ten percent black. I'm not talking about affirmative action," Well, you know we can't get
people," he might say. Come on. You can do it; if you don't have qualified people, I can
introduce you to some qualified people out there. You want me to arrange a meeting with the
NAACP? They'll find some people for you. "Well, they've got police records," they'd say.
Come on, how many white guys or white women haven't smoked grass once in their lives?
That's where affirmative action comes in. If you've been discriminating against the group for
years and years, all of a sudden the doors are open.
Then everything changed on April 29th when L.A. blew.
So you were there before it blew?
I spent a lot of time in L.A., although I live in San Francisco.
Did you know it was coming down beforehand?
Oh sure. Of course. The situation had been deteriorating, not just
with the Rodney King thing. You have to realize what was happening. Police chief Gates had
been fired; he was on his way out. Willy Williams was coming in as chief. The situation with
the Korean community had been deteriorating. The Koreans had
bought out the black tavern owners. There were very few Jewish owners of buildings anymore,
since the Watts riots. The Jews got burned out in 1965 and they left. The Koreans came in, and
they had bought up over half the taverns, liquor stores, and little grocery stores.
It took me a while to understand Koreans. Koreans do not fit the Asian stereotype. In many
ways they're aggressive. They're the bottom of the social ladder for some Asians. Korea's
become industrialized in the last fifteen years. Before that it was mainly agricultural. So the
Koreans came into L.A. There are three hundred thousand Koreans in L.A. and about thirty
percent of them have a college education. Some Koreans are very blunt; they're like the Israelis.
They are very direct. They became shopkeepers. They didn't hire blacks because they are family
run institutions. They moved in and bought shops in black areas. To run a liquor shop in a poor
area, black or not, you're going to have protection. You're talking about central L.A. where at
that time there were more murders than anywhere else in the world. You're talking about drugs
and gang warfare; it's a dangerous place. Here is where they have their shops. I don't think
some black customers like them very much, and I don't think some Koreans like the black
customers very much.
It took me five years to get into the Korean community, being very patient. Once you're in,
you're in. They trust you, but it takes a long time. They had a dozen robberies of Korean stores
by blacks. There was an incident that was the turning point, though. A fifteen year old black
girl went in with her girlfriend to a store and she got a couple cans of soda. She got into a fight
with the older Korean shopkeeper, and the shopkeeper killed her. The woman claimed she
wasn't paying. Fortunately or unfortunately, there was a TV camera there. What happened was
that the girl came in, she got cans of soda and she had money in her hand. She came up to pay
and there was a misunderstanding. They started shouting at each other and the girl threw the
cans. She did push the woman, but she wasn't trying to steal the soda. She turned her back and
she started walking out, and the woman took a gun and blew her head off. It went to a jury and
the judicial system assigned the case to a new judge, who was a white woman. This was her first
case. Nobody else wanted the case so they gave it to her. They found the woman guilty of
manslaughter and the judge gave her probation. She never spent a day in jail. They left and
went back to Korea.
There had been a black and Korean merchant group using my problem solving approach.
I don't believe in just dialogue, but the human rights commission set
up a dialogue group. I got the leader of CALPAC (California Association of Taverns and
Package Liquor Stores), a black woman who was a real visionary. My idea was to get together
with KAGRO (Korean American Grocers Association). I got the two groups together and I
wanted them to sponsor a program for training. I got them to co-sponsor a project for two
things. First, we were going to set up a complaint system so black customers could register
complaints and there would be a system to deal with the Korean merchants who were really
doing things wrong. The other thing was that we would train. The woman who headed
CALPAC was running two stores. She knew how to do it and she had a lot to teach the Koreans.
And the Koreans had a lot to learn about how you deal with customers.
I spent over two years trying to do a whole series of meetings and we couldn't pull it off. There
was a lot of resistance from the black community, but this woman really was a leader. She was
pulling her group along. But behind the scenes, she was paying the price for it. There was a lot
of anti-Korean sentiment. The other thing was that the Human Rights Commission was
undercutting the project.
How so? Were they doing something specific?
They had a Korean-black dialogue and the Koreans tend to respond to where they see the
power is, and I couldn't produce the money. If I could have produced the foundation money to
fund this we could have done it, but I could not pull it off; it was too risky. The county, through
the Human Rights Commission had this other thing going, and they saw what I was trying to do.
I could not do it through the county. So I had to set it up as a separate thing and they saw it as
But anyway, this trial had happened a year before which had a tremendous amount of publicity.
We tried to work on that hostility between blacks and Koreans, but when that trial happened,
that killed it. The feeling of the black community was so strong, because much of the Korean
community would not acknowledge that there was anything wrong. They came to the defense of
the merchant. It's true that it was dangerous to be a Korean merchant in a poor black or
Hispanic community. But the woman had no right to kill this girl. They caught her in the lie
and they had it on tape. The Korean community did not write her off; they tended to defend her.
That just killed my effort. So it was the combination of the LAPD actions and the buildup of
tension in the black community after the Rodney King trial, the fluid situation, the Korean-
black thing. When the riot came every Asian store got targeted. It wasn't just Koreans, they
went after. Unlike the later trials, we only had three hours notice. Later we had more notice.
believe the jury let them go. Maybe we should have known better. Also there was a vacuum of
leadership in the LAPD, which became very obvious.
I was on a plane when it started. As we were coming over LAX at about 6:00 pm, the plane was
diverted. Usually they come over direct, but we diverted; we went further South. The pilot
came on and said there were reports of rifle firing. That was the first day; that was April 29. I
got a rental car and drove downtown and I set up a temporary command post at City Hall. I
knew a woman in City Hall and she let us into her offices. By that time at Parker Police Center,
windows were broken, and there were police cars burning; it was out of control. And of course
the next day it got out to the Valley and it wasn't black anymore, it was Hispanic. First day was
black, and there were some white politicos involved, but the second day became Hispanic.
Unlike the Watts riots, within two days it was over a third of the city; it was even out in
Hollywood. Somebody broke the windows of the sex store on Hollywood Blvd. You have to
remember by this time L.A. had 300,000 El Salvadorans and 100,000 Nicaraguans, most of
whom were there illegally. Crimes of opportunity, poor people who didn't have much, saw on
TV that nobody was stopping the looting. It wasn't until the national guard came in the fourth
day that the situation really came under control.
What was CRS doing all this time?
Can't do much; sure as hell can't mediate. It's definitely a police
problem. Also LAPD would not let us in. You don't do anything, really, in a riot. You get the
hell out of the way. You have to wait for things to calm down and then you can mediate. There
was a meeting that first night. at the First Methodist Church. It's the leading black church and
it's minister is a real leader. He's a remarkable person. We had participated in getting a network
of black men who would've gone out on the street and calmed things down, but it was too late.
There wasn't sufficient time to do it and it wasn't sufficiently organized. It happened too fast.
Another month we might have been able to do it, but we learned because we had more trials. As
Willy Williams came in as police chief, I got in for the first time. We became part of the
contingency plan for the city.
In what way?
First of all, we were privy to information. (We weren't undercover, we weren't an
operation.) By the time of the next trial, we had organized including my staff and a national
staff. I had half of the CRS staff under me at that point. CRS had been cut way down, but I had
half the staff. I had 75 people. And I could bring in more people and we worked with the city
gang workers. There is a large group of black and Hispanic gang workers who were pretty
good. We also worked through First Methodist Church primarily, but there were other black
churches, their men's clubs, and their brotherhoods. We set up a way for other groups to get
involved. We set up a kind of coalition of people. By that time, we started identifying problem
areas. We were working in the schools, so we had a whole program with the school system. We
were training not only students, but teachers and principals, on how you respond to tension. We
trained them to improve the information flow so the kids and teachers get factual information
quickly. You look for trouble spots, schools where you know you've had problems before.
Remember that white truck driver who was almost killed? That's a trouble area there for several
reasons. That particular street intersection is a focal point for things happening. I went to the
South Central Police command post. It was the first time anyone who's not law enforcement got
in there. They stuck me way down at the end of the line. They thought I was a spy. By the time
I was there four times, I built up trust.
I had people out on the street. We were getting information, and we had radios. I learned how
to do contingency planning. My staff got trained, and we got radios and so on. CRS hadn't done
that up until then. Not that we were accepted by everybody, but at least we were in. I
began to learn what you do for crowd control; what do you do from the inside.
Like with the '96 Republican convention. We spent a year making
contact with the groups who were going to demonstrate at that convention. So they knew us.
This is hard sometimes. Like with the Latino student groups at the universities. They changed
leadership so fast that every time we developed a relationship, their leadership would change and
we'd have new people. They started a march from Sacramento all the way down to San Diego.
Even though you have contacts at the top with the police, when you get down to the actual
situation, you're dealing with a sergeant who doesn't know who you are and he doesn't care. You
have to know what you're doing.
Another time we covered a debate at the State University at Northridge in Los Angeles, and
some of the left-wing politicos came in from Berkeley. You get to know these people because
they show up at all these demonstrations. They are political; they won't mediate with you.
We went into Northridge and they had a debate between the KKK guy, Dave Duke, and one of
the local black leaders. They brought in all their contingency plans and I knew what was going
to happen. Most of the day we just stayed with the demonstrators. We just didn't let them go
after each other. I found out later I made a mistake. I had worked with the campus police and
that wasn't where the power was. The head of the campus police was a black police officer, who
I knew, so I worked with him. The power was a small group of women. There was a black
woman who was head of Northridge and she had an Asian woman and a Hispanic woman, who
were her deputies, and they were running the show. They had made a plan with LAPD which I
didn't know about. So they brought in the police department and it came close to a riot.
How did you stop a riot?
At the end of the day the politicos ran around and broke some windows on the side. They
wouldn't let them take over the meeting on the inside, as they still had that controlled. LAPD had
this huge contingent of guys. As soon as that happened, the whole contingent moved in, and
that's exactly what the politicos wanted.
Also they did not meet with the student leaders. Prior to this, we had, but they did not really
have a relationship established with the student leaders who finally got mad at the outsiders, that
they stepped in. The cops didn't do it. It was a stalemate for two hours. The students just took
over and that broke the crowd up. I thought what the police did was provocative, 500 guys and
women out there, in full military gear.
How did you deal with other impasses? When there was a
stalemate and no one would move?
You have to know when to let it go. In mediation cases, though, I would say that you're
more than halfway to success once you get them to sit down. We had very few incidents where
mediation broke off once we started it. I would say five percent at the most, because parties are
The current situation in mediation is disturbing. Mediators are making money. They're selling
mediation, so they want to mediate and they want to come to a conclusion. Who are all these
facilitators? They're not people like me who have learned through experience. To get groups to
talk, you encourage the people who are quiet and you really move forward without telling people
what to do. Their facilitators are people who write real fast on paper and they reach a false
consensus. You even have techniques and games that force you to reach a consensus. As if
conflict is wrong. What's wrong with conflict? I don't mean you let people hit each other and
beat each other up and scream and yell, but conflict is how change takes place, particularly if
you don't happen to be the establishment. The NAACP knows how to mediate now.
Except they can't mediate, can they, given they're a party? They know how to deal at the
table, is that what you mean?
More often we didn't do mediation. Table mediation is parties
who are coming from different
positions. It's a give and take. I give some, you give some, I give up some, you give up some.
We come to an agreement. That's what I call mediation. More and more what we were doing
was problem solving. Why? Because it's a multi-racial, multi-ethnic situation. It's too
complicated to mediate.
Also, I personally think problem solving is a better approach than mediation. It depends on what
the situation is. Sometimes mediation is appropriate, sometimes it isn't. Some lawyers want it to
go on and on. When I started, the discovery process was nothing. Now a year of discovery costs
three, four hundred bucks an hour before you even come to trial.
How did you measure your success?
You come to an agreement and the agreement does something to rectify what's wrong. And
how do you perceive it? The only test would be that you ask people and they tell you. For
example with Stockton High School, the fights stopped. I can show you a year later there were
no racial fights there, and the student group was still functioning. Sometimes there are specific
ways you can show it, e.g. the Indian agreement at Klammath Falls. The county hired an Indian
ombudsman, they set up a complaint procedure with certain guidelines. There was a monitoring
mechanism that had power. They were monitoring the agreement to make sure it was lived up
to, and if the thing fell apart, I'd come back in.
Usually the second question that comes is whether the agreement lasts, because often it doesn't.
The Indians were really getting the short end of the law enforcement process. Not only were
some getting rough treatment, but they weren't getting law enforcement protection. Who are the
victims if you live in South Central? Ninety-five percent of the victims are poor people who are
black. That's who's getting robbed. That's who's getting murdered. They need law
enforcement. They need good law enforcement. So it's not that they don't want law
enforcement; they do. It's the white people in the Valley who are against paying more for law
Did CRS provide any monetary assistance?
No. It's a good question. We were aware of resources. Sometimes we were able to connect
them up with federal and state resources. I gave the example of the Office of Refugee
Resettlement where we actually were able to tap into some money and impact the law
enforcement in the Southeast Asian community. CRS had no money to give away, no granting
authority. That was one of the real weaknesses of CRS. Also CRS was not really successful in
getting other organizations, including the Justice Department, to give money. Why? CRS just
did not have clout. Secondly, the way the government gives away money, at the federal, state,
and local level is very political. We were not political. Political also means it's not the poor
people in these little communities who get grants. In fact it's the black woman with the Ph.D. or
her Master's degree who's a consultant who gets the grant. Do people give grants to poor
people? Never, never.
How did you deal with the media?
Ben Holman, our former director, was a former reporter and TV guy, so he was very
Ben really pioneered, after the Watts riots in training people, but the media, dealing with
minorities is still bad. Do you know what percentage newspapers have of minority people
working today, as we sit here? It's 12 percent. Ben Holman was one of only two black
reporters in Chicago in 1960, so I guess there's some progress.
What about the L.A. Times?
The L.A. Times does not have a big percentage, but there are a couple of black women who
very prominent in leadership positions. They thrust them forward, but they don't have a big
percentage. The Times is getting more Hispanics now, but they never did a good job with
How did you deal with the media? Did it help or hinder your work?
The media usually doesn't help. I became very bitter about the media in the last several
years. I was at the eye of the storm in '92 with the riots. I was there at the ground level, so I was
getting calls from Janet Reno.
You felt personally at the eye of the storm?
I was the senior Justice Department person there. Who else was there? The U.S. Attorney,
but he was not on the streets. So I was getting calls from the white House, Janet Reno and her
assistants. They all had a need to know. Knowledge is power. I also got calls from the media.
I lived through the earthquake here in '89. Even the earthquake had racial implications. That's
when we got involved with FEMA, and we found out how you work in emergencies. The
epicenter of the earthquake was south of here. The area was Hispanic, and a lot of people there
didn't speak English. FEMA, a bunch of retired military people, mostly men, middle class, didn't
have any Hispanics. They finally brought in some people from Puerto Rico, (which the
Mexicans really loved,) because they spoke Spanish. Part of the damage was over in Oakland.
People in poor black communities in Oakland and Richmond loved it when you brought in
middle class white people to process them. They're were asking, "Did you really have any
We also had a lot of contacts with the media. It's much worse now than it was then, because
now you have international coverage, you have the net, you have the local media, you have
instant access. The media doesn't just report news, they sometimes
make the news, and they do it in ways which don't necessarily have anything to do with really
what's going on. They're selling something so they want to prolong it.
I went through the O.J. Simpson trial from the inside, the last big trial I was part of. I was there
when the decision came out. If they found him guilty there was going to be another riot. But
they didn't, that was no surprise to anybody.
At times I don't think the media is a positive force. Anybody who watches the media knows
that. You get some idiots who are supposed to know something about how society operates and
have some grasp of what makes things function.
So what do you do to try to stop them from hampering your process?
Well first of all, in mediation, part of our ground rules were no press, it's confidential. We
have a press conference at the end. I would get the press together, introduce the people and they
would speak for themselves on the agreement. CRS has something which is unique, a
confidentiality clause. The '64 Civil Rights Act is about three paragraphs. one clause specifically
prohibits CRS people from engaging in any activity
connected with investigation and prosecution. It's never been violated. Including during
Watergate, we were never a source of intelligence for that crowd.
Secondly, CRS has a confidentiality clause which no other mediation service I know has, private
or public. It says that mediation is confidential, which means that you can't get it through the
Freedom of Information Act.
After Watergate, some of these investigative reporters abused their power. They hid behind the
first amendment and in no way did they hold themselves responsible. The media is really out of
Let's talk about a case in which you were involved personally, where you did background
I was the mediator in Klammath Falls. That was really the first mediation that we did. The
agency was saying we had to do mediation. Howden was my mediator, and we weren't just
programmatic anymore. Nobody had the slightest idea how you develop a mediation case,
including me. After you go through five weeks of training, you have to be able to visualize the
process. I know people who are great mediators, who couldn't come to closure on a mediation
case. It was important to get to mediation, because it was an empowerment process at that time.
We're talking thirty years ago. Just getting the establishment to the table was a big thing.
Tell me how you did that.
We were government. I couldn't go out and organize the community, you had to do
something, as in the case of the school boycotts, or, if the cops were doing things which were
bad. Richmond, California, was a court referred case. In Richmond, there was a majority of
blacks, but the police department was a great majority white, including the top leadership.
They had their midnight shift, they called themselves the cowboys. They had a picture in the
squad room of themselves in cowboy outfits, with boots and guns. Well, let's say they were a
little heavy handed, so in a period of eighteen months, there were three major incidents. First of
all, there were a whole bunch of complaints. There were twenty-two standing complaints of
people that had either been killed or badly injured by these guys. Three of the instances that
were particularly bad were family disputes where the police were called. These disputes
involved young men who were probably mentally disturbed, who were not armed and were
killed in their homes. We worked closely with the NAACP lawyer, and the Regional Director
Did you go in there without being called, or were you called?
No, we were called.
We were called by the federal judge. The city was not asked, they were told, that CRS
mediate. That's usually not the way it happens, but this judge was a very strong judge. The
NAACP went along with it because they were a little afraid of him.
You don't think they would've gone along without him?
Maybe, maybe not. I know they weren't sure what was going to happen. They liked the
of the referral, and they knew and trusted us. But I don't know that they thought something
would happen. I think they were skeptical whether something would really come out of
So how did you assess this case when the judge called? What
did you do next to figure out
what was going on?
First of all we spoke to the judge. This had been our first court referral, so there were a lot
things we didn't understand about court referrals and lawyer stuff and the kind of power you
have and so on. You're told different things. You're told that judges are really very neutral.
You have to be very careful. I've had judges call me in to do segregation cases and say, "Hey,
Julian what should I do?" But you'd better be damn careful who you're talking to because there
are judges who are deaf if you open your mouth and try to influence them. They'll nail you.
We're not part of that whole circle and that's an inner circle, an inner kingdom. Are you a
lawyer? Well if you aren't a lawyer, you aren't anything in that circle. We then talked to the city
and we got the picture there. The police chief became the spokesman. We went and talked to
the police chief and to people in the black community and the lawyers. We talked to all the
parties. You listen, you sound them out, you find out what's going on.
How do you figure out who in the black community to talk to?
They tell you. Here we were talking to the NAACP. We didn't go talk to everyone in the
community. The NAACP was officially representing the black community. The
NAACP lawyer was very smart. The president of NAACP was this nice old gentleman, that
was very typical at that time of NAACP. I think the average age of NAACP presidents at that
time was like seventy. It's younger now. A few years ago, NAACP started getting some
younger people in. For years the organization was just dominated by older people. Richmond
was a poor community then. Even today Richmond is a poor community. It's not well
organized, Oakland's got the leadership, not Richmond. We talked to everybody, and you get the
lay of the land, and then you start doing the research. You start figuring out the things you don't
understand. We even did research on water distribution, in a mediation case in Arizona. What
the hell do we know about water distribution! So we got in some hydrologists, the experts, not
to do mediation, but to help us. Sometimes you bring experts into mediation because you have
What were some of the questions you asked the different parties?
First you have to do your homework. You have to look at these twenty three cases to see
was involved. One of the things we did was eventually to get the consent degree split and
issued as two consent decrees. At that time I didn't know what a consent decree was. It's issued
before the case goes to trial and it's binding and then if they break it, it goes to trial. At one point
we split the awards for the twenty three people from the agreement and that was arbitrated
separately. It took the lawyer's fees out of it, which was very important, because otherwise
you're mediating lawyer's fees. I'm not saying lawyers are only concerned about their fees, but
they can use it as a tradeoff.
So what were the issues?
The issue was police violence, their arrest procedures, their use of force. That agreement is
very detailed in terms of how the police operate. See, you can't mediate criminal acts. That's
why we took the awards out of it, and any criminal aspects. Some people got fired from the
police department. The chief got forced into retirement.
Tell me more specifically how the case developed, you talked to everybody, you found out
what their issues were and other concerns were, what did you do next?
I would rather talk about Klammath Falls.
I have to get you to back up then. Tell us how you got involved in
Ok, Bob Lamb was the Regional Director in Seattle. We came out of that training and each
the Regional Directors had a mediation case. I particularly needed it, because my staff did not
develop mediation. You have to be able to visualize yourself as a mediator, you have to make it
happen, you have to take responsibility. You believe in the process and you know you can make
it happen. And I also learned from Vermont McKinney how to be aggressive that way. Don't
ask everybody, just start doing it. Before you know it you're halfway into mediation.
Let's go back to Klammath Falls.
Ok, Bob Lamb calls me in and I did some reading on the situation. I read about the history
Klammath County. Klammath one time was owned by the Klammath tribe of Indians who live
on both sides of the border, some of them live in California, some of them in Oregon. There had
been a settlement.
Settlement to what?
The federal government gave them money. There was a lawsuit and the government gave
them money, and then many of the Indians blew the money. There's a whole history of how
people cheated the Indians out of their money. The money was given to individuals, it wasn't
given to the tribe. So the next time they gave the Indians money, they gave it to the tribe. The
tribe bought the biggest shopping center in town. They didn't fritter it away and they started
developing some power. You have to realize about two years before that, AIM had developed.
You have to understand every single treaty, one hundred percent, has been broken. By
everybody, by the whites, by any blacks that were involved, any Mexican, everybody cheated
the Indians, including other Indians. So there's a very good reason why the Indians don't trust
anybody. Also you have to realize that they were a very proud people. They owned everything
here. They weren't savages. Most of the Indians had intricate sophisticated civilizations and
were doing very well, and then we came in and took everything away from them. It wasn't just
that, we degraded them, starved them and killed them, we infected them, and Indians know this.
Now, they have a suicide rate that is many times anybody else's rate. They are the poorest of the
poor and you go into a town like Gallup, New Mexico which is a border town, on a Saturday
night and you step over piles of young Indians, teenagers, boys and girls, who drink themselves
into unconsciousness. The suicide rate and the drug rate and the alcohol rate is incredible; the
unemployment rate today is like seventy percent.
Okay, so in Klammath Falls. . .
I get off the plane and they pick me up at the airport and they
me to this meeting at City Hall and here are some Indians. I've had no real preparation, I haven't
met with anybody. Here are the Indians and here are the city officials and they wanted me to
start mediating. I said, "wait a minute, we need to do a little preparation." So they want to start
and I said "ok, go ahead." It took them about a half an hour. I just sat and listened and they
were going absolutely nowhere. They said, "maybe we ought to do something else, what do you
suggest?" I didn't say this is my first mediation. I'm the expert, that's why I'm there. So I said
"I would suggest that I set up some appointments to meet with each of the parties. Why don't we
start that way.? We'll make sure everybody understands what mediation is." I had some ground
rules for mediation and I handed them out. "I'll make the appointments right now. I'll meet with
everybody. Once I meet with everybody, why don't we set a date, like two weeks or
three weeks from now when we can start the mediation."
But something else came out. Someone said that we had to do the mediation in public. I didn't
understand why. I said, "We don't do mediation in public."
We talked about that yesterday.
Yeah, and there's good reason why you don't do it in public, with the newspapers there and
everything. Their reason was that there was a split in the Indian community and AIM was being
kept out of it. Some were scared of AIM because of the violence at Wounded Knee. AIM was
being kept out, but they wanted to know what was going on. So I called Bob Lamb and he said
to do what I had to do. So I didn't call Washington, because I knew Washington would say no. I
made a decision, we're going to do it in public. Then I came back and I spent three days seeing
What did you do at these meetings?
I wanted to know what were the issues. First I met with the Indians, and I met with this
woman leader and I met with the group and I said let's get the issues down. They weren't that
organized. But we got it down to specific issues.
Did you help them reframe the issues or what?
Oh, of course. First the Indians had to trust me, and I had to trust them.
So what did you do to try to get them to trust you?
You start by asking questions. "You can't bring up everything. In what order do you want to
bring this up? What are you willing to settle for? What is the bottom line position? How do
you want to present this stuff? Who will be your spokesman?" That wasn't easy because it
turned out to be the woman and her son. There wasn't a lot of leadership in the Indian
community. "You don't want five people talking, so who is going to be the spokesperson?" The
woman chose to be the spokesperson. You've got to defer to her. Let's go through the ground
rules on mediation.
Then I had further complications. I had people there from the
outside. The U.S. Attorney, a
very liberal guy, had hired a young Indian woman who was the first female Indian person to get
a law degree in Oregon. She was there. I had an Indian guy from the state who was part of the
Alcohol Control Commission of the state. He was an Indian official with the state. He wanted a
piece of the action.
And you decided that, you didn't leave that up to them?
Well, it was both. Remember I was supposed to know everything there was to know about
mediation. No, there has to be only one spokesman. If you want to
advise, you can't do it openly. I said, " I'll call a recess if you want, then you can caucus with
the Indian group. If they want you in their caucus you can advise them, but you can't interfere
with the mediation process.
Which means only one person from each side at the table?
No, five people from each side at the table. But I'm the mediator, I'm in control. I said,
anybody from the Indian side can speak, ask questions and so on, but you shouldn't disagree with
each other. Think that out beforehand. Don't openly start discussing among yourselves. I'm
mediating between you and them. I told the other side the same thing. You've got questions,
you better get it down before it starts. If things come up that you're not sure about, give me a
signal, I'll call a recess. That's what caucuses are all about.
Now did you help mediate within groups during caucuses, or did you just let them do it
I don't make their decisions. I'll tell you what I think if you ask
me. If I think you're really screwing up, I'll tell you. But I'll tell you it's my opinion, and what I
base it on. If I think you're being unrealistic, I'll tell you and I'll tell you why. I'm not going to
take responsibility for the group, that's up to them. If I have a good idea, I'm not going to hold
back, I'll tell you. But I won't do it openly, I'll only do it in caucus. However, when the woman's
son lost his temper with the sheriff, I immediately called a recess, because that could have been
dangerous. I sat down with him and his mother privately and said, "Look, we'd better talk. I
live here, you do. You don't do that in this community. I understand why you got mad, but you
have to keep cool. Not only for the process, or for the Indian people.
What if the sheriff had gotten out of hand? Would you have done the same thing? You
wouldn't have said it's dangerous, but would you have called him on it?
It can be dangerous too. Some young Indian kid can get mad and get drunk and go after the
sheriff. That's a small town.
Keeping control of the process.
I controlled it. I am a firm believer in people deciding for themselves. I really believe in
democracy, no fooling, and that means you've got to be willing to share power. I really believe in
people doing that, but people have to be informed. That's what the preparatory meetings are for.
I went through the ground rules and I met with the Indians and they made decisions. When they
asked for advice, I gave it to them. If I thought they were really going way off, I told them. If
they overruled me, it was their decision. I didn't have the final say, they had the final say. There
were a couple of times where I thought they were wrong, but it was up to them.
So basically, you helped to identify the issues, you helped them prioritize the issues,
And understand what the mediation process was about.
Ok, you told them what procedure you're going to follow, and you
did this with the other side too?
I did it individually, with the law enforcement people. I had five separate agencies, so I met
with each one separately, and I had a reason for doing that.
Which was what?
I didn't want the group to decide, because I knew where the sheriff was coming from. The
sheriff didn't want mediation. The sheriff was off in left field.
Did you meet with him anyway?
Sure, and his lawyer. That's why I met with each of the law enforcement people separately,
because I perceived there were differences within law enforcement and I wanted to use those
differences. So I wasn't completely neutral in the situation. But my public face was neutral. So
I met with each one separately and I found out five different things. I had the sheriff and I really
thought, probably the best we can do is isolate this guy. He's going to be fighting every step of
the way. So we've got to be very reasonable. I found the city police chief was a nice old guy
who was a year away from retirement. I found the D.A. was not going to run again, and he was
more liberal. I found the lieutenant of the state police really would go along and he was the
So what were you doing with these guys? Were you telling them the Indians' concerns, or
were you asking the law enforcement people what are your concerns, what are your issues?
They really didn't have issues, except they had a law enforcement problem in this
In a sense they're public servants. They survived, particularly the police chiefs, by responding to
their communities. Sheriffs are elected, police chiefs are appointed. The average police chief
stays in three years, so they're survivors. So they're about as liberal as the community. They
don't want problems. The sheriff's elected. He's a political figure.
I told you alcoholism is a real problem and these young Indian guys get drunk, and they're real
problems. I didn't know a damn thing about what alcohol control meant. I learned. What it
means is when you pick up these young drunken Indians, that's a very dangerous
situation. There are two things that are dangerous with cops. One is
family disputes because a lot of cops get hurt when the husband and wife start fighting. The
other thing is you get these young people who are drunk or on drugs and just out of control. And
that's dangerous for cops. That's why they're very wary when they go into those situations.
When I realized that, we started talking about that. They didn't want to arrest young drunk men,
but what are the alternatives? Well there are alternatives. This is one of the things we came up
with in the agreement. We came up with an alcohol control officer. So when a cop is at a tavern
and there's a young drunken Indian there, (it would go for Anglos and blacks too), but I mean
with Indians they're perceived differently, that's where the prejudice comes in. You don't call the
police, you call the alcohol control officer. Who's the alcohol control officer? He's an Indian
guy who's about seven feet tall, weighs about four hundred pounds, and he's Indian. And he
goes in and he has a talk with the guy at the bar who's ready to hurt people, and says you got a
choice. Either we can go to the detox center, or we can go to jail. There wasn't a facility that
they could go to at the time, so out of the agreement, we set up a detox center. So this guy
would have a talk with him and say, "Friend, we got a choice. Either we can call the cops and
they'll throw you into jail or we can go over there and there's a nice bed and so on. No more
booze, and you can sleep it off." That's something that came from this guy who came from the
state. And money came from the state to set this up.
How were you able to establish any amount of trust with both sides so they would agree to
some of those?
That's where your personality comes in. You're selling yourself, the mediator is selling
himself. You have to convince them that you really have no axe to grind, that you're going to
And how were you able to do it? Personally, how were you able to sell yourself to them?
It's the same way I learned how to do precinct work in Chicago.
Well, that's where your self confidence comes in. Even though
that was my first mediation, I
knew what I was doing, I had faith in myself, I had faith in the process. I was willing to take
responsibility for my actions. I was willing to laugh at myself. I don't take myself so seriously,
that's important. That's how you get in the door when you're knocking on a strange door. You
could put me in South Central L.A. and I will knock on a door and start precinct work. You say
how are you going to do it? You say I'm your neighbor, I live down the block, I'm a volunteer
representing a candidate, and then you laugh. You know what that laugh says? Isn't this
Ok, so what do you do with this Indian woman, you're not her neighbor, you're not doing
precinct work, you knock on the door and say hi, I'm from the Justice Department?
No. Remember the mediation? I was the mediator, I didn't have to sell mediation. I had to
sell myself, I had to let them know I knew what I was doing. I don't say, "trust me." We started
talking, we do it. Let's get the issues down. I ask questions and I make suggestions and we're
operating and it's working. Someone tries to break in, but I don't let them. Someone else doesn't
talk, and I encourage them and bring them out. I'm listening to people. You have to be a really
good listener. I'm focused. I submerge my own ego, and I'm focused on them, and I'm doing my
job. I know what I'm doing, and we're going to be successful. And what about the sheriff? Well
I'm not going to let him do his stuff.
Now this conversation sounds to me very much as if you are
manipulating the process. You
said over and over again, "I'm not neutral." Are you impartial?
Yes. I'm not going to let anybody yell at anybody, I'm not going
to let anybody get out of line, I'm not going
to let anybody intimidate anyone else. I'm there to help them solve their problems.
What if they develop an agreement which you consider to be
Tough to you, or tough to them?
Tough to me. They're not there to do what I want them to do. I'm there to help them, I work
for them. They don't work for me. But there are times when mediation is going to fall apart and
there are times when you don't mediate. That's what I was talking about regarding ethics.
Nobody talks about that anymore. Sometimes mediation doesn't make sense. Sometimes it
shouldn't be done.
When is that?
With table mediation, not problem solving, but table mediation, you need some degree of
equality between the sides. That didn't exist in this situation, because you had a strong group on
one side and a weak group on the other side. When that happens, you're not going to come out
with an agreement. But I was the leveler. The Indian group was not equal to the other group,
but I made it happen.
You made what happen, you equalized the power?
Yeah, I equalized it.
Ok, that's another question that I want to get to.
So the two groups have to be fairly equal. And both groups have to be ready. Secondly, the
groups have to be in a position so they can make decisions. It can't be "we'll make a decision,
and I'll go back, and the city council will have to vote on it," and that kind of stuff. And that's
where it gets tricky. You can't get the whole city council there, so what you have to do is get an
informal agreement. You have to get the mayor or the head of the city council, the person who
can really swing that city council. It has to be pretty much an informal agreement that the city
council is going to go with. You have to have the power of the people at the table. Then you
have to have a commitment that they will participate. I got a commitment that we would go for
three full days. That's what I said we were going to do. Because I don't believe in stop and go
mediation in that kind of situation. We'd never get to it. So the police chief, the mayor, the
Indians, everybody committed three full days, including me.
And the city council committed that whatever the group came up with, they'd go with it?
It wasn't the city council, it was the head of the law enforcement agencies. The sheriff didn't
have to go to county court, he could speak for himself. The police chief really runs his own
department. The city council wasn't a factor here. It was how the police department was
In other cases if there is a decision made, and they operate according to votes, do you get
them to agree to abide by the decision, whatever it is?
Well, they can't do that legally, but that's why I said informally, and that makes it trickier.
you've got the police chief there and you figure the police chief is talking to the city council.
They're being kept informed as to what is going on. If, during the mediation, for example,
money issues came up, like who pays for this full time Indian person? The sheriff couldn't
commit the county. The county had to vote for the money, but if there was agreement, they
would go to the county and ask for the money. There was informal agreement that the county
was going to provide the money. Formally could the county provide the money? No. But
informally there was an agreement.
Let me go back to this issue of having the parties in equal power.
The other side is the community. In the community you have to have people at the table
really represent the community. Not the whole community, but represent somebody. So you
have to have legitimate people there at the table.
And how do you determine who's legitimate?
They determine that.
What if the people at the table are not the right people?
They have to be the people in power. They are the people who are complaining. But they
have to represent something. It can't be individual cases of malcontents. The woman at the table
in the wheelchair was the actual chief of the Indian tribe. She was elected, so automatically she's
at the table. Now does she represent every single Indian? Hell no. The Indians are split ten
different ways, that's one of the huge problems in the Indian community, they are so badly split.
So do you need to get a representative of each of those factions at the table?
What do you do if one of the break-off factions doesn't want to go along with the agreement?
That happens, I've had that happen, they don't go along.
Ok, and you don't try to get them in the fold?
Yeah, you do, but if they won't come in, they won't come in. That's very common, when
there's money involved in the settlement, you have a lot of splits. It's a poor community. The
poor community had more splits in it because people are fighting over money.
Ok, let's go back to the idea that you need people of equal power at the table. But in race
situations, minority situations, you rarely have people of equal power.
That's correct, that's why we were so important. That's why us being the U.S. Justice
Department was very important. Once people came to the table, we make the situation
And what effect did that have on what's going on?
It makes everything official. We're the federal government. It brings the ultimate threat of a
civil rights complaint.
So in that regard, it helped you?
Sure. Remember now, we're set up as an alternative to legal action. When we get an
agreement, with the court, it's a consent decree. You want to get into thousands of hours of
paying lawyers? You want to get into a civil rights complaint that's going to go on for years,
particularly if there are things wrong?
Were you explicit about making that threat?
I don't threaten people. Do I remind people of this? I might, but not in public. Of course, I
remind people. It was difficult to get people to the table.
So what else do you do to empower the low power group?
You help them. You explain the process. Also, you're a reality agent. You get down to
specifics. You get down to what is really wrong, what really is going on. That's where you're
emphatic. I understood what was going on, and I told them I understood that the guys are getting
hurt and so on. Then we start getting into a discussion of how do you handle a young guy.
That's where this alcohol control official came in handy. I brought him in. Then I brought this
young woman in who was the U.S. Attorney in the form of this Indian woman. That made a
difference. I'm learning, I'm trying to figure out what we can do. We wanted to keep it going.
We set up a complaint process. The bottom line is, what are you going to settle for? I wouldn't
let extraneous things come in. The lawyer for the sheriff said, "Well, is this a legal process?" I
said, "Yes and we're starting."
Tell me how you structure the process.
First the Indians decided what the issues were. We got down to about twelve basic issues.
The bottom line is we remembered what they wanted on these issues. We talked a bit. Like with
the alcohol thing when that came out. That's why I called in the alcohol control guy. Let's talk
about how we can deal with this. I had talked to the police, too. So I began to understand that
was a good issue, because they wanted out from under it. So I said, "Why don't we start with
that, that is a very explosive issue, that's where some of these kids are getting hurt and the cops
want to get out from under. Let's talk about solutions." We developed a strategy there. Both
sides wanted that.
Are you doing this ahead of time, developing it in your mind before you're getting to the
Yes. But things are also happening in the session and you've got to be flexible. See I'm
getting ideas and things are coming out, I'm beginning to realize things as the sessions go along.
Tell me how you structure the sessions, how you get people to
table, how do you open it up?
We go over the ground rules, and we have things in writing. We had procedures. So I said,
these are the ground rules and I couldn't say the press won't be here because I'm doing it in
public, I'm doing it right in city hall in the courtroom there and the press was there. So that was
one reason we said we were going to finish in three days because by the time the newspaper
came out we were done. They don't have a daily paper there. So I found this out. We started
the mediation Tuesday and I think the paper was being published Thursday so we're going to
finish. So by the time the paper comes out, we're done. And that's when Ben Holman, the
director, called me and said, "Julian, they told me you were doing it in public. Absolutely don't
do it." I said, "I'm done." He said, "How did it work?" I told him it was successful.
Go back to the session...
Basically I explained the process and what was going on. That
important because I had other people there. I said nobody can talk. We had observers you see,
but nobody can talk, because this is between these two groups. I introduced the state person and
the U.S. Attorney's person and I said if anybody had something to add, you can send a note up,
but you can't talk. No one's going to interrupt, we've got certain ground rules and so on. I said
the Indians are the complainants, and the other people have these list of issues, and so why don't
we start with issue number one. Issue number one is the procedure for dealing with young
people who are drunk and so on.
Now you're just starting the issues in the order that the Indians decided, so you didn't give
other side any consultation in that?
No, the Indians are the complainants. They have the issues.
there can be argument about issues. If the other side really wanted to get into the definition of
issues, they don't have to accept, they can raise objections. Basically they'll usually accept
There are arguments for doing both. There are arguments for
what is the bottom line. It's
very important for them to figure out what their bottom line is in advance. Although that can
change during the mediation and you explain that to them.
How did you establish trust with the disputants?
This was my first mediation. How do I get people to trust me? You're the principal of a
school, I come in, you don't know who I am. I find out who you know and I give you the names
of three principals where I've done mediation. I give you their phone numbers and say give them
a call. Same with the police chiefs. Call up some chief's office where I've mediated and ask
him. But that was after years of mediation and that's why we were so much more successful
after we'd been around for a while. We knew a lot of people and we had hundreds of successful
mediation cases under our belt. Also, you build a relationship before an event. To handle crowd control like at the Republican Convention, we spent a year building
those relationships. If you go in cold, it's more difficult. You find out who's going to protest at
the Republican Convention. So that when things did go wrong, they knew us.
So you're tackling the number one issue which is how to deal with alcoholism, you've
got a solution in your head that you developed?
I didn't, I had an idea, it came out, it developed.
Ok, so what happened, how does it come out in joint session?
I don't think we concluded it in that first go around. I don't remember if I called on the state
guy during the session or not. Information came out that in Grant, Oregon, there was an alcohol
control officer. So after we talked about the problem, everybody agreed it was a problem and
everybody agreed they'd like a solution. The information came out during mediation that Grant,
Oregon had money from the state; they had an alcohol control officer. Maybe this is something
we ought to look into. We said, "We're going to get more information on this."
Did you brainstorm solution options?
A little bit, but you don't want the mediation to stop and you're not going into a committee
meeting. You want to move along. We may have interrupted. I may have asked the guy to tell
us, which is perfectly legitimate. He didn't know if he could get a grant, but he sure could try.
He explained what it was, and how it was working in Grant. It's not the solution to alcoholism,
but they've cut down the number of confrontations. The law enforcement folks thought it was a
great idea. Why don't you talk to the state office. How would they get a grant? And so on. I
think he came back within those two days and they were very amenable to giving a grant. It
wasn't all nailed down, but it was part of the agreement. That they were going to go for that
grant. Subsequently, that grant came through very quickly.
What do you do in situations where you don't have a solution in mind?
Hopefully it'll come out. You try to get an agreement to the problem. You really can't figure
out what to do about the problem? It's not an end all and be all. You want the Indians and law
enforcement to set up a permanent group, which can continue to work on the problem, which we
did. It's part of the agreement. We got a staff person, the first Indian on the payroll for the
county. The permanent group would continue to meet and this problem was put on the agenda.
If there is a problem we're going to try to work on it, and this group is part of a work plan.
Employment would be an issue there. They didn't employ any Indians, there were no Indians
under the sheriff, or any on the police department. That was one of the things for the future. But
there was some acknowledgment from law enforcement that it would be good to have some
Indians in law enforcement. How do we set up the agreement? I had ideas on that, and the state
had some ideas on that. The woman from the U.S. attorney's office did too. They decided on
their goal, they wanted to get some Indians hired. Subsequently there were Indians
Did you ever have real strong flare ups of emotions or high tension situations that you
to deal with? How did you?
One I mentioned was the kid.
But what were the various approaches you used for dealing with that?
I quieted them down. You're teaching them, you're a role model. It's how do you deal with
that anger. I've been in some very violent situations, where you get angry, your heart starts
beating, and your natural impulse is to lash out. That's where training comes in. Or, if I'm really
angry or if the violence is really scaring me, I take a deep breath and I psychologically step back
a foot. I wait until my heart stops pounding which takes about sixty seconds before I respond at
all. You can be angry, but it's got to be controlled. Listen to what the person's saying, don't
respond to the anger. Don't be condescending, don't be a smart-aleck, don't act like you're really
afraid. Don't be a psychiatrist, but do take the person off the hook and depersonalize it. And this
is where the interracial thing becomes important. There are differences between people and
between groups and how they deal with anger. Do you know the book that the white professor at
the University of Illinois did about the differences in confrontation between black and white?
It's an excellent book; you ought to read it. You've got a great difference in perception
sometimes of what's happening. I saw it in Palm Springs once. Here's this nice, sweet, young
white teacher and a black woman parent came out with a lot of anger, which really wasn't
directed at this woman. The white woman started crying and the superintendent wrote a
complaint letter to the Attorney General of the U.S. about the mediator.
How does the mediator deal with that problem?
Well, you're a role model, you ease up the flow. You might suggest a bathroom break.
Then you take the black person aside and say the reason she's reacting this way is because...
No. I would not presume to tell this woman she does not have a right to be angry. This
white teacher; you tell her it's not personal. She was head of the cheerleaders and there were no
black cheerleaders. There was no prejudice involved, of course, but the Palm Springs high
school did not have any black cheerleaders. So they wanted some black cheerleaders and she
had her own little kingdom of cheerleaders. There are a number of techniques. You break the
flow, you talk calmly, you go onto another issue. You assert control in the situation.
Going back to the anger management, when things get really hot in a mediation, how do you
cool them down?
Sometimes you can make a joke. Everybody likes it when you laugh at yourself and make
of yourself, so you can diffuse a situation through humor. One former CRS director used to
draw cartoons. Very good ones. I'll show you, I've got a whole series of them. He would sit
there and he was like a professional cartoonist, although he was a lawyer.
Break the flow. Any other ideas?
About how you handle it? Ultimately you could adjourn the meeting, if you had to, or you
could have a recess. And then you talk to the person.
How do you bring it to closure?
People want to close. You make a judgment and if you're wrong, they'll tell you. You ask.
"I really think we've gone as far as we can on this, I think we're beating it." "Look, we want to
go on." "I know your time is valuable, why don't we leave this and we'll come back to it. Why
don't you jot down some ideas, let's let this percolate for awhile and we'll come back to it. If you
want, maybe we can have a caucus on this. We'll talk about it." You don't say, "We're going to
go on." Ultimately you may have to. But again it's what people tell you. You're judging the
group and its up to them, if they want to beat it into the ground and keep going, it's their
mediation. You're stuck. You have to do it. You try to you say, "Look, I really don't think we're
going to solve this one. Why don't we give it to that committee because I think it's important we
do move on at this point."
Do you try to build some sort of follow up into any agreement?
Yeah, that was one of the mandates at that time. There had to be a monitoring mechanism.
No, but we wanted to build it into every agreement if we possibly could. In the case of
Klammath Falls, I got the League of Women Voters to monitor.
Aside from monitoring, do you build in any mechanism so that if something is found to be
wrong, there's some way to fix it?
Give me an example.
Remember now, you build an ongoing group that's going to continue into the agreement.
That's number one. Number two you have the monitoring group. Things are not going right or
the time table is not being met. In essence they say to the groups, "You said within three months
there would be a report, there's no report, let's go." They're monitoring it.
Is there any sort of enforcement that says, "Ok, you really have to go because if you don't,
If the monitoring group says the agreement is violated, then I would come back.
You, as the mediator, would come back.
Is that the typical way of dealing with this sort of thing?
You can, in court cases usually they have monitors. We would love to have monitors, but
just don't have the staff, but courts will pay monitors. They have court hired monitors that the
parties paid for.
If the agreement isn't being upheld in court, can you take action?
They do, that's what I've been sent to create. The promise is there if the parties have violated
the agreement. Then the case goes to trial.
Is that something CRS set up? The arbitration?
Yes. In the Richmond Police case I recommended it. Oh you mean did I call in the
arbitrator? No. What's common is that they see the lawyer's fees are a big part of it. At that
time, the federal law said if you win a civil rights case, you get double damages. The reason you
do is because it's so difficult to win a civil rights case. A lot of the people who are bringing
complaints don't have any money. So civil rights lawyers, like this lawyer, he wasn't getting a
fee up front. Now this case made him. There was a three million dollar judgment hearing. He
got established, and it was good. He deserved it.
I'm going to bring you back. We were
talking about the first case you ever did. How have you changed your approach, now that you
have lots of cases under your belt. Do you do things differently?
I don't think I did anything wrong in that case, but I sort of made
judgments by the seat of my pants. But I was so enthusiastic, and so fresh, it was so different. I
was very lucky to have the Indian matriarch there. This woman was a remarkable woman. You
have to visualize her. She died about five years later. How old was she? Maybe sixty. She was
in a wheel chair. She was an incredible person, you know one of the real heroes. I was lucky
that there was a split in the law enforcement community, and I was lucky that the guy from the
state and the woman from the U.S. Attorney's office were there. There was a lot of attention on
this case, the ingredients were there. So I don't think I would've done anything different. I really
didn't make any serious mistakes.
What do you do in situations when you're called in and the situation does not seem to be
You tell them. You tell them why. It's like I said with the
where the principal said, "We don't have racial problems." That's it. That's the end. I say, you
have no racial problem and there's no reason to do anything. There's no reason to change if
What if you have acknowledged problems, a serious problem, but it is clearly
Then you suggest alternative ways of dealing with it.
Which would be what?
Lawsuit. Let's say one side really isn't ready to deal with it. My son was beaten up, he's
black. There's a whole series of issues. What do you do? Get a lawyer. Can you give me a
name of a lawyer? No. You have to be very careful; you suggest alternatives. You can also file
a complaint with a civil rights agency.
You were saying you do not recommend lawyers?
No, I'll tell you who to call, legal services, I don't recommend anybody. I'll tell you to file a
complaint. You have to know who the civil rights agencies are. You file an employment
complaint here. There's the Americans with Disabilities Act. You don't just tell people, you
give them a name and a phone number. Explain the process and the reality of the process to
them. Tell them how long it's going to take. You may suggest other appropriate mediation
The only cases you dealt with were civil rights violations?
Race. Title ten is race, not women, not gender, not sexual persuasion, race.
What about situations that are not conflicts, but maybe legal violations? Such as tensions in
We were in schools all the time. Do you mean, legal issues?
Well when you say,
No, our mandate was to help communities deal with racial tension. Well, that is civil rights.
The two big areas of civil rights violations are schools and police. That's three quarters of them.
So three quarters of what we're dealing with are schools and police.
Now one of the things I was trying to get you to go into was,
your problem solving approach
which is different from mediation.
It's not table mediation, there is mediation going on though, but it's multiple party and it's not
me and you. It's different.
When do you use that?
That's a good question. When do you use mediation, and when do you use alternatives?
Multiple party disputes, there's a lot of things going on in there. Some people try to handle that
in different ways, particularly the environmental mediation people. They love to do that. Of
course if you can spend six months to a year to do every mediation case, and some foundation
will pay you for doing it, you can do that. We didn't have that luxury. Plus what we're dealing
with is violence. That's when people were ready to move when there was violence. Come in and
work this interracial problem. You know when they've got interracial problems when they're
beating the hell out of each other. It's in the newspaper. Then you come in and you move. You
don't set up a study committee. You have to move fast and that's what we did in the past. Even
though we had a little staff, we weren't handling one or two cases, our case load was maybe fifty,
sixty cases. I had a staff of a dozen people covering four states so I had to make judgments
with a limited travel budget. The travel budget was a big one, but a limited one. So you have to
make judgments. In a sense that's good, because unless you move fast nothing's going to
How many cases does a typical mediator/conciliator handle in a year?
No, not necessarily.
The majority of cases do not get to mediation. We were doing
conciliation. Which is more of a communications process, and it's more patchwork. You do
what you can, but it wasn't like a written or oral agreement. We weren't doing that
many mediation cases even at our peak. But mediation was part of our job.
Give me a ball park figure. Five? Fifty?
At one point we were leading CRS, we were doing half the mediation cases in the country.
Ten people and I were doing maybe, thirty successful mediation cases a year. Mediation cases
meant those with written agreements. Each person was doing fifty, sixty cases, carrying a
caseload of maybe twenty-five, thirty cases, at one time.
Let's talk about conciliation. We really haven't talked much about that. What do you do
Basically, it means you're not going into formal table mediation.
It's a communications process.
You talked to the parties initially?
We had a procedure. First you do an alert, and the alert says this is something that's within
mandate. You get the basic facts, and you determine that this is something within our mandate.
Then you do an assessment. Over the years we've streamlined this. We used to say you had to
go on-site, but it became too expensive and too time consuming. So we really learned to do
How'd you do that?
You just call up the key people, you don't do a full assessment, but you do a phone
We have techniques for how you talk to people you get the facts. We have forms and everything
became computerized at one point.
So you have standard set of questions you go through?
Yes. We did. There we had forms and we had a system.
So what does it include?
It's like a newspaper article. When did this happen? What happened? Basic stuff. Just
a newspaper reporter, you get it fast. You focus in.
Who, what, when, why, where sort of thing?
Exactly. What's it all about, who's involved, who are they? Sometimes you don't understand
what they're telling you. Such and such a group uses an acronym. What's the acronym? You
write it down, what's it mean? You get it all down in one page. You write it fast. Then, see if
there's expenses involved. I'm the Regional Director and anytime there's money involved, I have
to approve every step. Nobody traveled unless they had my authorization. You had to tell me
what was going on before hand, and if I had any questions, I would ask them. Then you go on
site and you do an assessment. But that's a commitment for us, it's money and time. You go
on-site and that's really a commitment for us but it's not a complete commitment.
Did you ever try to help without going on-site?
Oh sure, you could offer help through telephone conversations. We had at one point, as an
example, an agreement with the Coast Guard. About twelve years ago the coast guard had very
few blacks or women in it. They decided they had to do something. So one of the things they
did was an agreement with CRS. I went to see the admiral in Long Beach and I gave them some
training. They set up each unit with a trained human rights officer. The background was that
there was a coast guard station way up north in California and there were a few blacks there.
There was a black family that was really discriminated against. When they would go into stores,
people were really nasty to them. And what the Coast Guard had done in the past in this town is
they'd move the family. Very compassionate, so if there were problems they would move the
family. I told them not to move anybody. Call a meeting at the chamber of commerce, and say
either you guys stop that behavior or we're not going to buy anything here, we're going to buy
from a town twenty miles down the road, get it? You're going to lose fifty thousand dollars a
year. About two weeks later I get a call. You know it worked. That ain't mediation, there are
times you don't mediate.
Going back to conciliation. Define conciliation for me.
Conciliation is a communications process. Remember people are being discriminated
We were part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That was the big Civil Rights Act and that was to
deal with racial discrimination. It was to deal with racial problems. We weren't the Civil Rights
Commission, we weren't a human rights commission. We were not there to educate the public.
That became part of what we did, but if there wasn't discrimination going on, if there weren't
racial disturbances going on, that wasn't us. We would refer you to somebody else.
I'm coming back to the same thing I was having a problem with before. You're equating
disturbances with discrimination.
No, it's not the same. Sometimes discrimination doesn't result in disturbances.
Back in the school where you've got kids fighting, it's not really why kids discriminate
black or black against white, but the kids are fighting.
They're fighting for a reason, they're fighting, first of all, because they don't see each other as
human beings. They're fighting because they're competing. The biggest thing is that boys are
fighting for girls. They're teenagers. That's why a lot of boys fight. That's changing, as
roles change. If they don't see each other as human beings, usually there are problems. Are they
racial? Most of the time they are. Very seldom, they're not racial.
You talk in a conciliation case, you do it the same way as if it's going to be mediation, but
some reason you decide you can't mediate.
It just has no purpose.
Ok, so then what do you do?
You see if there's other things you can do. You might bring another agency in. Let's say
want long term training. That's good, but there are other agencies that have that role. You do
short term stuff. There are some immediate problems that you deal with, not all so dramatic.
There are different ways of handling things. You have to train your people to handle
them, not in the typical agency fashion. We also never had a demonstration.
No. Never have. Some of our other offices did, we didn't. We had crazy people walk in
sometimes. Some of these people on the phone were abusive, and you don't have to take abuse.
If somebody's crazy, you just ask them to leave. You let them know you're going to call the cops
if they don't, and you're calm. I've never had to call the cops.
Did you ever get involved in a case where one of the major
parties didn't want you involved?
Oh yeah, sure. Sometimes they can keep you out. If they're smart, they'll use political
pressure to keep you out. They'll call their congressman; they'll threaten to sue you. If they're
really adamant on keeping you out, they can keep you out. (Our mandate was very broad. We
didn't need anybody's permission to go in.) That didn't happen very often, but it did happen.
Can you give me an example of a case where somebody didn't want you in and you still went
I had a situation in Nevada, three, four years after I came in. The state prison there was a
hell hole. At least it was at that time. They had violence. There were some black inmates
who had destroyed some things in the shop that the Indian inmates had done, and at lunch time
some Indian inmates killed a couple of blacks. So I didn't call up the governor and ask "Can we
come in?" I called up the governor and said "We're going in." And I went in.
We're in the meeting in the governor's office and they knew they were vulnerable. Fortunately
I'd done some homework. I didn't know a lot about prisons, but the bureau of prisons had done
an audit on Nevada's prisons two years before that and I got a copy of it. I read it on the plane
and I sat down with the governor and the head of corrections. "What do we do, Julian?" "I'm
not an expert on prisons." "Yeah, but you're here." "Well first thing I'd do is transfer the
warden." It was clear to me that he had lost control. They agreed with me and transferred the
warden. Then I said, "You have to bring in an experienced warden. Secondly, here's the report
on your audit. Everything's wrong. You don't have an intake process, one of the basic things
with prisons is that you separate prisoners. You can't stick all the prisoners together because
they're all kinds of different groups. Some people are crazy. You don't put the big strong stud in
the cell with the little kid because he's going to rape him. Control is the thing in prisons. You're
just putting everybody together, so you get a lot of violence. Also, your food is terrible." Prison
food is terrible, but their food was really terrible. There's a real question here, people are
stealing, prisoners as well as guards. Food is being siphoned off somewhere. You really got to
take a look. That is a big thing in prisons. They also had no programs, they had no education,
there was nothing for the prisoners to do in this maximum security prison. So I just went down
the list, anything you do is going to be an improvement and you've got to do it right away.
Somehow you've got to communicate to the prisoners that you're going to do this. So they have
some hope. You got to start training guards. You've got some brutal guards here. The guards
who permitted those killings to happen, don't defend them. Jettison them. You've got something
here that the civil rights division can come in on, and you're going to have some heads roll.
Don't try to protect them. They really did some stupid things.
What you're saying is you provide consultation as another alternative to mediation? You just
go in there and tell them what they need to do?
You can sometimes, in a bad situation. They really want to move. They'll ask, "What do
think of our situation?" "You've got no blacks employed and you better do something about it."
Sometimes you can get action. I did that in a case I was called into in Chicago. I was called in
as the consultant. I went down there. It was a white town right next to the airport, and they had
one black employee in the police department. The key guy, the supervisor, was a lieutenant. He
had a brother who was connected. Because of the airport, there's money out there. So anyway,
I met with the black employee. He had logged everything. He had a case like you never saw.
So I had a friendly talk with the police chief, and said, "Look, he's got you. You better settle
fast." He comes up with the lieutenant. Maybe you can't fire this lieutenant, but you better do
something, because this guy legally has really got you. Secondly, the black officer is a very
bright guy, a good police officer, hang on to him. This guy's good, he's what you want. You're
not catering to him. Promote him and if this lieutenant doesn't like blacks in the police force,
tough. Do something. So sometimes, what's to mediate?
So then you didn't mediate?
I didn't have to. He heard me. He did what he had to do. Why should I mediate? Also,
was no lawyer involved who was trying to make money. You have to find out what the
complainant wants, not what I want. He wanted to stay with the police department, he just
wanted this lieutenant to get off his back. He liked being there, he liked being with the police
department, he wanted to continue working for them. He just didn't want to be discriminated
against. If he wanted to leave or if he wanted money, that's different.
Did you ever try to get to the parties directly and say, "Look it doesn't help to have your
Well, it's tempting. If there's a court involved, you better go talk to the judge. Don't try
anything before you go talk to that judge, or at least the bailiff. Some lawyers perceive that
mediation can only be between lawyers, particularly when minorities are involved.
Let me ask you a question way off in the other direction. How did you deal with the
possibility that your intervention might undercut a minority group's protest activity?
That's one of the components that I spent time thinking about. And that's a very real threat, a
very real danger. It's a judgment process. You don't try to push the group into
mediation if they're not ready for it. You explain mediation and what's involved. Often it's the
other way. They want to go to court, they want to get a lawyer, and you say, "Wait a minute
when you mediate, that doesn't mean you can't go to court." You explain, when a court's
involved, it takes time. Costs money. Consider mediation. But it depends on what you want. It
depends what you're mediating. "I was beaten up by the cops." Get a lawyer, by all means. In
Richmond case, there were twenty-three lawsuits there, including three deaths and they were
arbitrated. The NAACP was interested in changing the way the police department operated, not
just winning lawsuits. You can do both. Some lawyers want to keep mediators out. They don't
want to settle, they want fees. You don't have to be a lawyer to do mediation.
I helped start the Marin Mediation Service here. It's a county mediation service. Once every six
months I'd give a class. I would take over a three hour segment and we'd talk about that.
Everybody is basically mediating in their own way. It's like therapy. All these different theories,
everyone is pushing their own theory, and you know what they found? They did a big study and
found that it didn't matter what therapy was used, as long as the therapist was a good listener. If
you're empathetic, you listen to people, people felt you understood what they were saying, it
made no difference what your technique was, people got cured. Same thing with mediation.
When you first go in to do your assessment of any case, at what
stage do you develop a plan for dealing with it? Do you develop one in consultation with the
parties? I guess I should say, do you develop it early on in your mind, or do you wait until
you've talked to everybody, and you develop it as you go?
You wait, because you've been there before. I go in and I'm carrying forty years of
with me. So I've got ideas. You have some parameters. Remember, you don't have a lot of
time. That's good in some situations, in others it's just going to take too long, but it's up to the
people involved. You can't make judgments. You can get an idea, you look, and you say well,
blacks are complaining because of brutality, like the Richmond case. The police chief's
obviously not controlling the situation. You're going into a school. In thirty minutes you
determine the principal's weak. The principal's absolutely key in a high school. If you've got a
weak principal, you have to get a new principal. You can't work around a weak principal,
because there's got to be leadership.
Does that mean you don't mediate a case like that?
No you might, but you have to find leadership somewhere. There has to be movement on
problems. I can't move the problems if I'm not the principal. If there's no hope of anything
happening, if there's just discussion, it'll make things worse. If you have discussion without
action, you're building up expectations. That's where riots occur. Riots don't occur when things
are bad. When things are bad, people are being submerged. It's when there's hope. It's the same
in schools. So don't kid people, be serious. If you come in, and have a discussion group and
raise expectations and then nothing happens, I guarantee you it's going to get worse. That was
one of our prerequisites. Same with mediation. Don't enter a mediation unless you're prepared
to make changes. It's solvable.
Let me go back to something I've been curious about ever since you said it early on. We
talking about the school, which is what you were referring to when you said you didn't like
No, I like dialogue, but I don't like dialogue when it ends with dialogue. I don't think
in and of itself does anything. If anything, it does harm because it raises expectations, without
Yesterday when we were talking about the schools, I asked did that teacher buy in?
No, I said I didn't get teachers to buy in on that Stockton case. It's very important to get
teachers involved. Particularly since teachers are also a part of the problem. The typical high
school in L.A. has either a white or a black principal. The typical school has a majority of
Hispanic students, but a majority of them have mostly white teachers. That's why we started an
approach where we did it by school and then we did it by system. We started doing it by whole
systems. Then, by teacher, and they were part of the work plan. The teachers we had there
would go back and essentially work with the teachers they could work with. Many of the older
teachers wouldn't change. We tried to isolate them. You work from the top, you reward the
teachers. Oh sure, teachers are key. But you don't sit down and say let's take a vote among the
teachers about whether they want to participate, because you will lose. And those fights go on.
It's very political. They have a lot of power in California. Everything is regulated. I don't know
about Colorado, but state regulations will cover the entire wall, about what you can or can't do.
It's very difficult to fire teachers. It's all political.
What would you say are the key ingredients for a good civil rights mediator?
First of all, there is no civil rights mediator anymore. Diversity is
the term that the universities coined about ten years ago.
Well we're having a discussion if it's civil rights mediators or racial mediators.
Well that's one thing that's happened, is that everybody gets in on it now. It's race, it's
women, it's gays, people tend to lump all minorities. There's plenty of prejudice against women,
it is less now because women have organized sufficiently, but the problems are there. Each
group has separate problems and you don't lump them all together, the approaches are different.
And the constituents are different. But what's the term universities use, diversity training?
Oh, but that's something different.
I know, but it's very important what you call things. I'm not sure there is any civil rights
How big is CRS?
About seventy people.
Really is that all?
Yeah, it's basically been decimated. And the average age of the Regional Director in CRS is
over sixty. I retired at sixty-five. Mediators should be a diverse group.
I'm certainly not against whites mediating. I'm a white and I've had a
career of that. I think whites have a stake in this. But I think an organization should be diverse,
and I made sure my organization was diverse. So I think that's important, although I don't think
people should be able to specify that they won't mediate unless they have a woman, or they
won't mediate unless they have a black. That's my decision, and I've turned people down for
that reason. Also, if you have a small staff, you can't do that. SPIDR talks a lot, but
the percentage of people of color who are mediators is very small. So mostly it's white people
mediating racial disputes.
I think it takes more than forty hours of training and I think it takes
more than learning little gimmicks about how you don't show the sole of your foot to an Arab,
you don't put your finger in your nose if you're a Korean. If you're not Korean, they don't care
what you do as long as you're polite. That's against the law here, you can't beat your wife up.
But I've had that argument. You do have to be sensitive to people though, and there are big
differences, like the Korean community. You have to learn and it takes a long time to learn
these different communities and what to do and it's not a gimmick. That's what used to turn me
off about SPIDR. They focus on technique, not problem solving. They rarely talk about
problems, never talk about discrimination. They don't talk about employment. I think there
should be people who are working with civil rights problems, and one of the techniques you can
use is mediation.
Now you're sounding like an advocate.
Sure. What do you mean, oh you mean for a particular viewpoint?
Yeah. And I mean not only that, but I see advocates as the person who is clearly taking one
Oh, you mean a civil rights advocate? Yes, you're right.
You sound like a community organizer.
No, not a community organizer, that's different. I've been there. But you're right, I am
as someone who works for the government. When you're working for the community, you're
working for the community. When you're working with the government, you're not the
community, you're providing a service from the government to the community. That's very
different, and I think I told you when I came into CRS I had all these guys who said they were
advocates and they weren't. We were under the civil rights act. We were dealing with problems
of discrimination and our goal was to help deal with those problems. I think we were fair. We
weren't lawyers. We weren't enforcement. We were trying to get the community in a voluntary
way to solve their problems. But did we have an axe to grind? Yeah, we wanted to problem
solve. Did we feel there were civil rights violations? Yeah we did. We basically did, because if
we went in and there weren't, we would leave.
What would you say is your greatest strength to do the kind of
work you did at CRS?
You have to be true to yourself and use what you're comfortable with. Styles are different.
Some people will respond to you, some people won't. There are people who dislike me on sight,
and there are people I can't stand on sight. That's part of it. You have to deal with that. But if
you're a pro, you don't really care. You're there to do a job and you do it. You get past that. So,
entry I think, is overrated, although you can deal with it through references and stuff like that.
I'm here to do a job, I'm here to help you. Can I help you?
What would you say is your greatest strength?
I learned to listen. That was a big problem for me because I tended not to. I do hear and I do
react to people. I don't always stop and tell you I have, but I do know how you're feeling. I may
not probe on it or get into it, but I do look at people's faces. I can read fast and I understand
I'm hearing. That's one of my big strengths. The negative is I'm compulsive. I'm movement
oriented. I believe in the process, I really believe in democracy. I think that came out of
community work. I really believe that the people, when informed, can make intelligent
That's one of the reasons I'm very concerned about the media. I don't believe it's all going to be
settled through the Internet. I guess I'm a humanitarian, in the sense that since I've worked with,
and for, people of color most of my life, I had to learn to understand people of color. Very few
white people were in my position and have to do that. Also, I think I understand my prejudices.
I learned, I think, people are pretty much people whether you're white, black, or Hispanic. I'm
not saying I'm color blind. There's big differences between people and how they're brought up
and how we react to them because of the color of their skin and so on. But there's a lot of
similarities between people and we're human beings.