How did you do your onsite assessment?


Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Going back to the beginning, when you needed to personally contact people, did you call them on the phone or did you write, or what?

Answer:
No, you never write when you can call, you never call when you can visit. on-site assessments are essential in this business.

Question:
You can look at them and they can look at you?

Answer:
Absolutely, absolutely. I mean you know coming from New York, the first two cases I ever had, one in Dublin, GA, and one in Cairo, GA. The sheriff said to me, "You sound like one of them Yankees. You don't know what a n****r problem is until you get down there and see some of these n****rs." I said, "Well Sheriff, I just may do that." I flew into Tallahassee, rented a car, drove across the state line, and I went into the sheriff's office, and the female deputy said, "Can I help you?" I said, "Yes, I am here to see sheriff Lane Waldroff." She said, "Go out there and have a seat around the corner where the rest of the black color people are." I said, "Thank you." I saw him come out, walk around and everything, and that's when I said, "Darn, he should've been here by now." I called the airport, that plane landed. So after a while, he came and said, "Can I help you boy?" I said, "I'm Bob Ensley." He said, "Well I'll.....You're a n****r!" Dr. Porter, who's son is a senator here, he's a doctor in Dublin, GA, 150 miles away. He invited me down for lunch to discuss a problem in Dublin. They have a large hospital. I went to the front door, and the black comes and said, "You gotta go around to the back, boy." I said, "No, Dr. Porter's expecting me. Would you call Dr. Porter and tell him Bob Ensley is here?" So he came to the door, and he looked, and he said some unkind things too, and he's a doctor. So after he left, the lady said, "You're the first colored man ever had his feet under that dining room table." I said, "Thank you." But the thing is, that's why it is so important to do on-site assessments. You can look at people, know who you're talking to, and you can detect a sense of sincerity, or you know sometimes when you're being mislead.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Ok, I'm a detail person. One of the things you learn is that you want contact with as many people as you can. The first person I called up there was the Governor's office. I didn't know if the Governor was playing a role or not, but I learned that the Governor's Chief of Staff was a guy that had taken quite an interest in the situation. He was interested from the point of view of seeing if the state could resolve this conflict. But, of course, he wanted to know why I was coming in and I told him, and he accepted that. He also had a colleague who was Indian. The two of them got together and said, "We'll meet you there in the course of the week. How long are you going to be there? I said, "I don't know, I have to contact some more people, get more detail." I called the chief of police, and I got in touch with key community leaders. As you're identifying issues at first, you also want to identify key players, and their roles. Going into any situation like that one, without having some idea of who the leadership is, is kinda putting your life at risk -- very much at risk, because you're walking around like a zombie or something, because you don't know who's who, and what's what. But you know for sure that the police chief is the Police Chief. In any city, you know for sure that the mayor's office is the mayor's office. But before you know that, you have to understand and learn what form of government a municipality is operating under. For example, you may go in there and say, "I'm going to talk to the mayor, and see what's going on with him." The mayor may just be a symbolic individual, so you have to find out if the mayor or the City Manager is in charge. So in this situation, the city manager controlled and wielded the power. He was reluctant, as most city officials are about the Justice Department coming in. On the other hand, it's a situation where if they can find somebody else to blame, a scapegoat, they welcome you to come on in. So light bulbs go on in their heads, and they start saying, "Scapegoat! Come on up!" You get to meet all these people. What's also key in a case like this, in a situation like this, is that you must not only identify administration leadership or white leadership, but you must also identify Indian leadership, and that's very hard. You go into the Indian community and you might hear a lot of talk that so-and-so is the leader or the boss. You hear all of this stuff, you write that name down, you call, you get him or her lined up, and then you learn that this person isn't the leader after all. In some communities, you won't know who the leader may be, especially in minority communities. It's a culture thing; you have to learn something about the culture. You don't barge in there, not having taken those things into consideration.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So Jim Freeman, the corrections specialist from our Washington office went in with Efrain Martinez from my office and they did an assessment. Jim found deplorable conditions there. Institutional policies and procedures were unclear and management was weak. There were plans to make major structural and programmatic changes in the institution which Jim felt the staff was not trained to handle. He felt it would be inappropriate to provide training at this juncture. Until the policies were sorted out and certain other things happened, training would not be productive.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Stop a second and go backwards and tell me how he went about this assessment.

Answer:
Well, the way he did it (the way it was often done) is the team went on-site. Remember, we had the commissioner who was at the top in St. Paul and very supportive of our work. Then came his deputy who was following his instructions with little enthusiasm, and then the superintendent of St. Cloud and his administrators. The structure beneath that was the corrections officers. They were union members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). They are the lowest-paid state civil servants and probably the least educated. This is significant because they are often outwitted by the inmates, who may not be well educated, but have great street smarts and are very clever. Then you had the administration and the inmates. The team went in and interviewed administrators, staff and the counselors. They asked questions and kept their eyes open and developed some understanding of what was happening there. Jim had worked in the Washington DC jail system and he knew what to look for.

Question:
Did they talk to residents?

Answer:
They probably did, but I do not recall. This was to assess training needs and the appropriateness of training. The reason administrators wanted the training was to prepare staff for a major restructuring of the institution that would segregate the inmates by their job or school assignments, rather than what they had, which turned out to be largely by race. They did not isolate inmates racially, but common sense told them that the five Hispanics should be in the same cellblock. Most of the American Indians stayed out of trouble and were able to live together in the honor cell house. Blacks were lived in three cellblocks, but most were in one. whites obviously were scattered throughout.

Question:
Okay, so they didn’t assess much?

Answer:
CRS conducted an assessment and found out that it would not be wise at this junction to make this major change ion the reformatory structure. Staff and inmate morale was low. The new structure would disperse and in many cases isolate inmates of color. There were policy issues and underlying management questions which needed resolution before the changes were made and the training took place.

Question:
So what did they recommend?

Answer:
I don’t recall their recommendations, except that the training they wanted would not help the staff address the underlying problems that were leading to disruptive inmate behavior. So nothing further happened then. I did not know whether we would hear from then again.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you have any pattern you follow in terms of who you talk to first when you are trying to do an assessment of a case?

Answer:
Oh, I probably do without realizing it. If it's a request for assistance, I will generally talk to the person or group that made the request first, just to find out why they made the request and what is going on. So, if it is a police department that wants assistance or a school district that wants assistance in training or planning or something, I would talk to them first. If it's a complaint, an actual conflict between a minority community and an institution, I would probably go to the minority community first. In many cases the institution won't be available, or certainly won't acknowledge that there is an issue. So, there is no point in going there and trying to find out what the issues are, because they will tell me, "There are no issues." So I would go to the minority community first and find out what's going on, what their issues are, and what their perceptions are. Then I have that information when I go and talk to the institution or agency or the office with which the community has the dispute. Doing it the other way around just wouldn't get me any information.

Question:
How do you determine who exactly to talk to?

Answer:
If it's something that was just in the paper, and I don't know anybody there, I would start by trying to locate the organization and/or any names that were mentioned in the paper. I would try to find a way of contacting them and talking to them. If there are no organization names or specific individuals to start with, then I'd try to find out which minority organizations exist in the community in question. Then I would figure out whether I knew anyone in the community who might be able to get me connected to the actual "players". I still would prefer to start with the community perspective because that is where the conflict seems to exist and then move on to the institution. In each case, I would ask the people that I talk to, "Who else would I contact to get more information, to get a broader perspective on this?"

Question:
What kinds of questions do you ask?

Answer:
Well, after I say, "I am from the Federal Government, and I am here to help you," which is actually funny, especially with larger meetings..... I do that and I know people are going to laugh! But it also helps to ease tensions a little bit, and loosen people up. I can remember one meeting that I went to where there was a lot of tension regarding law enforcement in a predominantly Hispanic community. Once I got there, it was clear that at least some of the community wasn't thrilled about having the Justice Department there either. It just so happened that this mass community meeting was on April 15. So the introduction was something like, "Okay, so this is your tax dollars at work: Silke Hansen is here from the Federal Government to help you!" I intentionally used that line to say, "I know what you are thinking, so just let me see how I can be helpful." I think the fact that I made fun of myself a little bit didn't come across as too "officious," if you will, but rather acknowledged some of their misgivings and doubts helped cut through at least some of the tension. I was still challenged, of course it was not a piece of cake. But after the meeting, people said, "Well, it's a good thing we've got a real facilitator for this meeting." I think being able to use some humor and, I find, particularly self-deprecating humor helps. I don't like to imply that I have all the answers. Sooner or later, they're going to realize that I don't have all the answers anyway, so why pretend in the first place? Now, with individuals or small groups, I start by asking them, "What's going on? What is happening here?" Usually, even though I explain the role of CRS and the fact that we are impartial third parties that we are there as mediators and that we work with both sides people will try to "bring us over to their side." Maybe that's just human nature. They will come up with proof and documentation and offer to get more documentation. So it always becomes a balancing act. On one hand, I don't want to cut them off, and make it look like I don't care. So I accept that behavior, because it might also provide useful background information. On the other hand, though, I use it as an opportunity to remind them that I am not conducting an investigation, and that even if they were to convince me that they are absolutely right, that wouldn't resolve this particular conflict. I say something like: "Yes, I appreciate the information that you are giving me, and it will be helpful to my understanding. Remember, though, my role is to get you together with the other side and to see how we can resolve this. So thank you for the information, and it will help me understand some of the dynamics, and maybe point me toward other questions that I need to ask." Then I have to hope that they'll understand that I don't need the documentation. If they ask if I want all their documents I usually say, "Yes, that's helpful, but if you can't find it or can't prove it to me, I don't need the whole paper trail that you have. Documentation is not going to change the dynamics of what I am trying to do here." Eventually I think people catch onto that.

Question:
Now, is that primarily true of minority communities or do you see the same thing on the establishment side?

Answer:
I see that to some extent, on both sides. But remember that it is usually a minority community trying to prove a case against the authorities, so they would be the ones most likely to present their evidence. But I think to some extent, even the institutions do this (here I'm using the term "institutions" to apply to the city, county, police or whatever.) They may show me some of the records on the incident or will get studies that they have done or I'll see copies of their policy that prove that they are not racist. So you get some of the same dynamics on the institutional side, with perhaps less intensity. But you do get that on both sides, because everybody wants to prove that they are the good guys. So to the extent that they think they can document that, they will try to do so. Then I will say, "Well, even if I am convinced you are the good guys, what we now need to do is to convince the others that you are the good guys, too. When you both think that you are good guys, then I have done my job."




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you have any routine assessments or anything you do, where you go into communities and try to figure out how long these fuses are, or how quickly they are burning, however you want to use your metaphor? Do you go in and assess the situation without being called in?

Answer:
Well, I do try to find out how much support there is in the community for a particular perspective and for a particular perception. I do that partly to get a better view of what's going on, partly for practical reasons I mean, if we are supposed to be dealing with community issues and it is really just the Hansen family that doesn't like the way the local police captain is handling things, it is going to be difficult to handle that as a potential mediation or as a community conflict. So, just to see whether there is, in fact, a real community entity that wants to deal with this issue, because if there isn't, it is very difficult for us to do anything. So, it's really just to evaluate the depth of support and willingness to engage. I might find that everyone I talk to whether in the local restaurant or at the local Post Office or wherever agrees that such-and-such is a problem but no one really wants to do anything. Then my hands are tied, too, because if I don't have two parties with which to mediate, there isn't a whole lot that I can do. And in meeting with the institution... Now if that institution recognizes that there is some problem in their relationship with the community, they might want some training or some facilitation meetings, or some examples of how to do things, or approaches they might use with the police department or the school. And of course, we would be willing to do that. But, it's difficult if there isn't a critical mass, and it doesn't have to be a large mass, but there needs to be some core community base which wants to bring about the change. And the other reason that that "critical mass" is important is that those people are going to need to keep things going after CRS leaves. If changes are made in a community only because the Justice Department recommends them, there's a real risk of the changes falling apart once the Justice Department is gone. Unless you have a local body that is going to hold the right people accountable, there isn't a whole lot that CRS is going to be able to do in the long run.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were your initial talks with chancellor and president part of your assessment process?

Answer:
Right, to find out what had happened and how they saw the issues and problems. They were asking for our help, but we didn't know the specifics at that time. In the back of my mind all the time is to understand what are the issues and problems and determine whether we can get people talking together.

Question:
What other groups did you talk to?

Answer:
The university officials who were present for that meeting in the morning were our first contacts. During the day Larry and I started meeting with some of the faculty as I noted above. The students were in school and not available during that time, but we wanted to get some background. So we started meeting with some of the African-American faculty, persons who knew about the issues and problems, and tried to get their background and some perspective on what was taking place.

Question:
How did you know whom to talk to?

Answer:
We knew some of the players on the faculty from our previous work there. Then one meeting turned to another and they would refer us to some of the students or resident assistants and other persons who were quasi-faculty.

Question:
Resident assistants were...

Answer:
The resident assistants were the ones who ran the dormitories. And there were graduate assistants.

Question:
Did you talk to the person who was in charge of the residences?

Answer:
Yes, they were there at that very first meeting in the chancellor's office. They had a sense of what was taking place; the woman who was in charge of student life, the vice chancellor in charge of all that area and the affirmative action officer. So we had the top people there speaking from their perspectives. That night we went to the meeting with the students and the president. It was raucous, tense and very loud. We just stayed in the background, didn't really do anything in that period of time. As I recall, the President said something about the Justice Department offering its assistance. It was really an airing, especially by the African-American students and leaders, that the administration allowed this hostile racial environment to take place, that they didn't do anything about protecting that resident assistant, and the fights and their lack of concern. The chancellor had come to a meeting and when the students were kind of belligerent, as they interpreted it, he walked out of that meeting and they were much more upset with that. The underlying issue was that, "You promised so many things in the past and these never had taken place. We don't believe you. We don't trust you." And the new president said, "I'm new, not even a year here. Give me a chance. We can change it. I'm committed," and that general type of response.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Let's go back to the assessment. When does it actually start?

Answer:
I think it starts right away with the first phone call that you're making. You have the alert. In fact you can start with the alert if a person calls it into us. If a person calls into us, a community group or superintendent of schools and says this is what's happening and I would like your help, then the incident is the alert itself. Obtaining the details and the cooperation of the parties is the assessment process.

Question:
You talked about working with a community group that was cohesive and you said there are other situations where you work with them in another way because they are not as cohesive. How do you make that assessment as to the community's state of readiness to move ahead in different ways and address the problem?

Answer:
I think a lot of it is trying to see if there is a community group. There is a problem of a shooting death of a Salvadoran that I am in the process of doing an assessment on right now. I'm trying to find out who is the community? Who's the leadership? Is this an issue to the community?






Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What were you doing there while you were on-site?

Answer:
We were mostly looking for what was creating tensions in the building, looking at what kind of training we could do for staff in the school on such things as dealing with a diverse student body. Since integration had just started, they hadn't had to deal with diversity before, so they needed to do some contingency planning. They needed to consider what was the relationship between say, the school and the police. We also talked with staff and students about their concerns within the building regarding diversity issues. We tried to develop ways of responding to the concerns and resolving some of those problems that would diffuse tension and create a healthy educational setting.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I've looked up one that might be interesting to use as a springboard. It is one I did at UMass, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The problem goes back to 1992. It was a mediation case related to problems at the university.

Question:
Were you the mediator?

Answer:
Yes, I was the major one and was assisted by Larry Turner. We provided mediation as a team.

Question:
Start from the beginning, how you heard about the case, how you gained entry, what kind of assessment you did.

Answer:
We had done a lot of work at UMass previously. The major previous problem was in 1986, right after the World Series with the Mets in which the Red Sox lost in the last game. It touched off a major campus protest and ended up as racial confrontations. We'd been out there after that to rebuild some of the relations; it had degenerated very quickly into a racial confrontation. Many Met supporters at UMass were African Americans from New York who were attending the school and a number of the white kids they got into trouble with were from the Boston area.

Question:
Is this UMass in Amherst?

Answer:
Amherst. We had a history of working with UMass and UMass had a history of racial problems. In 1992, I noticed an article in the newspaper that indicated there was a racial incident on campus. The chancellor had met with the students. There were problems related to one of the African American dorm residence assistants being attacked. The meeting with the chancellor and some of the students ended up poorly and there was going to be another meeting the following Tuesday or Wednesday--a meeting with the President of the whole university system, the chancellor and the students.

Question:
You caught this in the Boston Globe?

Answer:
Boston Globe. So what I did was -- I think it was on a Saturday -- call the chancellor and talked to him about what was happening. He gave me a little background. I said, "We might be of help," and he said, "Would you?" Which is very interesting, especially in light of the type of entry problems that we have in universities. Most of the time universities are somewhat reluctant to invite CRS or any federal agency, especially the Justice Department, onto their campus. I know we've had continuing problems with one of the universities here. Harvard has really kept us at arm's length with a lot of the problems that they've had in the law school and other racial problems. We haven't had problems in some places, but across the country higher education is a harder entry problem for us. I think the chancellor was interested in CRS because he had had a contentious meeting with the students and the paper reported that there were racial problems. That is what precipitated my call to him.

Question:
Was he the chancellor you had worked with before?

Answer:
No, he wasn't there before. The newspaper account occurred over the Columbus Day holiday break. On the next work day I went there with Larry Turner, Senior Conciliation Specialist in our office. I had set up a meeting with the chancellor and his top assistant. The president of the university system was going to be meeting with the students that night so he came about a half hour or an hour into our meeting. It was President Hooker. The chancellor had already told him about it and he was very appreciative of our being there because he had relations with CRS when he was president of a school in North Carolina. He had brought along two of his trustees and one of them knew about our work in Boston and about my work with people up there. They were very pleased with our willingness to be of assistance. So there was no real tension related to us. It was more a matter of how do we address the problem and what can be done. So we met with them and the person who became their primary person for dealing with us was an assistant chancellor who was the head of student affairs. We discussed the issues and problems. On a Saturday, the resident assistant, who was African American, had stopped some of the white kids who were drinking. He told them to stop drinking. One said "No," hit him, knocked him down, and beat him up. He was kicked outside. It wasn't done by a student, but by a guest of one of the students. This took place in September and a week later nothing much had been done. Then there was another confrontation between that resident assistant and a student who came to another one of the programs and there were other confrontations.

Question:
The same visitor?

Answer:
The same visitor came back the following week for another event. The resident assistant recognized him and was trying to get him to be removed from the dormitory or be arrested. The resident assistant apparently didn't get support for what he wanted to do. That set off a lot of feeling that the university wasn't doing anything, so the African-American students started to protest. There were several protests but there was no major newspaper coverage, so we really didn't know what was taking place. As a result of the protests, the chancellor had set up the meeting which I mentioned before that appeared in the Boston Globe that Saturday. The students were upset, not only about that incident but the most important issue was that they referenced a number of racial problems in the past which the University had promised to address -- not this chancellor but others -- and the students said that they were never carried out. There was the whole distrust element that we always talk about as a critical community dynamic that leads to racial disorders. There was a history of the lack of confidence in the redress system that led to the very tense situation on the campus.

Question:
Was this the background to the explosion after the baseball game?

Answer:
No, the baseball game took place in 1986. This was 1992, but that was part of the history, though. After the baseball game, CRS helped set up a number of meetings and efforts to deal with what the university was going to do. There were a number of promises and commitments made at that time.

Question:
Student memory was long.

Answer:
Yes, and I think it was fostered by a number of the African-American teachers and professors. During our outreach and assessment process after that first meeting with the university officials, Larry Turner and I became very aware of the racial history at the university and the racial problems in the course of our meetings with some of the African-American teachers and professors. There was also an African American student center. It was a place for people to learn about the history. There were also a number of professors and doctorate students who were personally involved in some of the past racial issues and were still on campus. It was part of their living history. There were other incidents that had taken place. A major source of the racial conflict, as we were informed, was that a number of the white students coming into UMass -- which is a large institution, 30,000 students, so it's a big city -- come from small towns and rural areas and many of the African-American students come from the cities. There was a potential clash as there was no background or relationships between the two sets of groups. The university really had not done a good job in developing an environment that would be effective in bringing people of different races and backgrounds together.

Question:
Were your initial talks with chancellor and president part of your assessment process?

Answer:
Right, to find out what had happened and how they saw the issues and problems. They were asking for our help, but we didn't know the specifics at that time. In the back of my mind all the time is to understand what are the issues and problems and determine whether we can get people talking together.

Question:
What other groups did you talk to?

Answer:
The university officials who were present for that meeting in the morning were our first contacts. During the day Larry and I started meeting with some of the faculty as I noted above. The students were in school and not available during that time, but we wanted to get some background. So we started meeting with some of the African-American faculty, persons who knew about the issues and problems, and tried to get their background and some perspective on what was taking place.

Question:
How did you know whom to talk to?

Answer:
We knew some of the players on the faculty from our previous work there. Then one meeting turned to another and they would refer us to some of the students or resident assistants and other persons who were quasi-faculty.

Question:
Resident assistants were...

Answer:
The resident assistants were the ones who ran the dormitories. And there were graduate assistants.

Question:
Did you talk to the person who was in charge of the residences?

Answer:
Yes, they were there at that very first meeting in the chancellor's office. They had a sense of what was taking place; the woman who was in charge of student life, the vice chancellor in charge of all that area and the affirmative action officer. So we had the top people there speaking from their perspectives. That night we went to the meeting with the students and the president. It was raucous, tense and very loud. We just stayed in the background, didn't really do anything in that period of time. As I recall, the President said something about the Justice Department offering its assistance. It was really an airing, especially by the African-American students and leaders, that the administration allowed this hostile racial environment to take place, that they didn't do anything about protecting that resident assistant, and the fights and their lack of concern. The chancellor had come to a meeting and when the students were kind of belligerent, as they interpreted it, he walked out of that meeting and they were much more upset with that. The underlying issue was that, "You promised so many things in the past and these never had taken place. We don't believe you. We don't trust you." And the new president said, "I'm new, not even a year here. Give me a chance. We can change it. I'm committed," and that general type of response.

Question:
Did the African-American students have an organization?

Answer:
Yes, there was a Black Student Union and there was the umbrella organization ALANA (African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans). While there was the umbrella organization, the leadership really came from the Black Student Union. They were the ones who carried the protest. They had organized the protests and they were the ones directly affected by the recent incident. The other groups joined in supporting them. We didn't say anything at that meeting. When it was over, Larry and I went up and identified ourselves to some of the student leaders and indicated that we would like to sit down and talk about these problems and determine whether we could be of help to them.

Question:
Were you invited to participate in that meeting?

Answer:
No, the U Mass administration didn't ask us to participate, but they asked us to come to the meeting. Since we had not yet met nor spoken with the students, they did not know that we were coming to the meeting with the President of the university system. We were there but we weren't identified at the meeting. We arranged the meetings afterwards with the students, exchanging telephone numbers and the like. We went back and forth to our residences outside of Boston. I remember the chancellor said, "Do you want to stay at my place tonight, stay here?" They were really worried about the whole matter exploding.

Question:
Did you spend that night there?

Answer:
No, but we went back and forth. It's about an hour and a half drive to our houses. We came back on campus the next day and started a few of the meetings with the students and more with the administration.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you invited to participate in that meeting?

Answer:
No, the U Mass administration didn't ask us to participate, but they asked us to come to the meeting. Since we had not yet met nor spoken with the students, they did not know that we were coming to the meeting with the President of the university system. We were there but we weren't identified at the meeting. We arranged the meetings afterwards with the students, exchanging telephone numbers and the like. We went back and forth to our residences outside of Boston. I remember the chancellor said, "Do you want to stay at my place tonight, stay here?" They were really worried about the whole matter exploding.

Question:
Did you spend that night there?

Answer:
No, but we went back and forth. It's about an hour and a half drive to our houses. We came back on campus the next day and started a few of the meetings with the students and more with the administration.

Question:
Did the African-American students have problems in the community outside of the campus?

Answer:
When we started meeting with them, they had already developed a listing of issues and demands. They all related to campus issues. Nothing came up with the local police as an issue. The campus police, yes, but not with the local police or with merchants or anything like that. It was all on the campus. U Mass-Amherst is its own city out there.The next day we continued the process of meeting with the students and getting an understanding of the issues. Our first priority then was to recommend that they go through a mediation process -- get these issues out and see what help they can get in having these issues responded to. Their concern, of course, was, "Why do we want to go into anything with them, what's it going to lead to?" and a lot of distrust. We said, "Well, you know the president said that he was going to follow through on this and the chancellor has committed himself to corrective action." I said, "We're here. It's going to be different. It will be in writing and they'll be governed by that." So they agreed. There was some hesitation on their part, but they agreed. Our next step was to get this into mediation quickly. I think that was October 12, and we began that weekend and had the first mediation session on Oct. 17. We moved on it very quickly. They already had the issues. In a lot of the cases we are involved in, the community doesn't have the issues framed properly for negotiations. Part of our process is getting the problems and concerns structured in an issues and demands type of format so that they can be negotiated. In this case, it was going back and forth to the administration -- they already had the student demands -- and whom we thought should be at the table. At the table at the initial mediation session were the president, the chancellor, the provost since some of the issues related to the faculty, the chief of security, the vice-chancellor of student affairs, the director of student life and his assistants, and the director of affirmative action. The students had their representatives from their organization, ALANA. We met with them on how to proceed and it started to fall into place. In many ways they accepted all of our procedures. We would be the spokespersons in the dealings with the media. The administrators and the students would not talk to the media during the negotiations.

Question:
Talk about those procedures.

Answer:
We wanted to make sure that they were both on the same page as to how we wanted to proceed. We laid out how we would like to see the mediation process proceed. We would set up the agenda; the mediators would control the mediation session. The two parties would have their own spokespersons and those spokespersons could have any of their other members speak so long as it was an orderly process. We indicated that these are the issues and here is how we are going to proceed, what process we were going to use in dealing with the issues. There were, I think, seven issues or demands. The students did not have in the listing of demands-- one of the things that we thought was important -- the whole issue of campus security and the campus environment, which were the subjects of the protest. They had specific demands related to the number of minority students, recruiting of minority students and faculty, oversight of new faculty coming in, getting rid of the name Columbus Day and changing it to a Teach-In Day. They had these various issues but they didn't have anything related to the precipitating incident, campus security and campus life environment. So we said that since this precipitated the racial problems and protests, we think we need to deal with them. Larry and I added them to the agenda.

Question:
So you put that first?

Answer:
Yes. It was the major concern to everyone -- what was happening, what could be done in order to deal with the safety of the students, basically students of color, and how do you prevent this stuff from occurring. Everyone had said to us, "You have a bad environment here. The kids are isolated. Complaints come in about how they're dealt with by the administrators from financial aid people to others at the university. New students coming in, we have white kids coming in from farming areas who've never dealt with blacks and they don't go through any type of a program of orientation." At that time there were some good programs available. Harvard had an interesting one for getting new students together. So that was the type of environment in our preliminary talks that we tried to get the people to start looking at, even before they got into mediation. "What do you really want to see happen here? What are you doing? What are the problems here?" One of the problems was the university had run into fiscal problems over the last several years. As a result, the administration had stopped a lot of the training. There were a number of training programs that had been eliminated because of the budget crunch. The administration admitted that when we asked them, "What are you doing here?" A number of the training programs that they wanted to conduct were no longer being held.

Question:
You raised the issue and put it at the head of the agenda. Had you discussed that with the parties before the first mediation session?

Answer:
Oh sure.

Question:
Talk about the preliminary meeting that led up to coming to the table.

Answer:
Before that first meeting we spent several days at U Mass going back and forth at night to our residences. The president, the chancellor and the vice chancellor were all involved. This was getting wide publicity, especially after we came on campus.

Question:
How so wide publicity?

Answer:
The college newspaper, the Daily, was the first media outlet that covered the events. Then the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the other papers covered it.

Question:
Who handled the media?

Answer:
The mediators handled the media when we got started in mediation. We would talk to the media afterwards and indicate to them the developments. We preferred that the parties not talk to them about any of the specifics that were taking place.

Question:
Did everybody agree?

Answer:
Oh yeah. There was pretty strong trust in us from the administration. They were very much concerned about getting this matter settled. And the students, this was the first time they were involved in mediation, but they pretty much followed our recommendations because we indicated that this was the process. None of their faculty advisors -- we'd already talked to the advisors -- came up with any changes in the process. It was helpful that we had seen some of those faculty members and conferred with them beforehand in our assessment process.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

It was helpful that we had seen some of those faculty members and conferred with them beforehand in our assessment process.

Question:
Would you say that helped them build trust?

Answer:
I think it did. The students were frustrated with the administration. I think they were willing to try this new process of mediation. We said we wanted to end up with some written agreements and have them put into writing. They said in the past promises made by the administration were made in general meetings and led to nothing of substance. I said, "As part of the process you used in the past, do you have anything in writing?" They said, "In the past, the president or chancellor made the commitment to us." "Well, is it in writing?" "No." So there was nothing of record that they could go back to and say, "Well they did not do this." It was all verbal. The oral history is negative because of these unfilled promises. So, part of our strategy was to indicate to them that there were some hope for changes this time and perhaps we could help. With the president and the chancellor being willing to commit themselves to change the type of process used and to follow through, and our indication to them to get it in writing, then that could be followed through. In fact, that was one of the agreements in the end that was written out. The chancellor was going to give a report at least once a month about progress related to each of the agreements.

Question:
In terms of generating trust among the student leaders, what would you say were the most significant factors that lead to their agreement to this mediation and their trust in CRS?

Answer:
I don't know of too many instances where we've had problems getting the community to trust us. That has never been a problem or issue. We almost go in with that type of an understanding where they feel confidence in the Justice Department. We always tell them about and refer them to other places where this process has worked.

Question:
You mean referring them to other?

Answer:
Other situations, cases, communities, cities, or institutions where we have been involved and what this process led to. Institutions like police departments, school systems and mayors, and communities in general feel more confident when they know about X city we worked in that had similar types of things and we helped them. I mean the inference is if you want to confer with them call them. We say that to community groups also, especially if they don't know us or our work. But most times, like at U Mass, the faculty members and the others who were behind the scenes assisting the students, we had already talked to them and they gave them the green light, so to speak. But I think what's more important is that the administration, from our perspective, was sincere about this. So it was, in effect, like in many of our mediation cases where we have to legitimize the community to the authorities. I think in this case it was legitimizing the administration to the students as a party willing to go with this process in good faith.

Question:
Was there any opposition to the mediation process along the way?

Answer:
I think the only major obstacle was setting the time frame for mediation. I recall that once we got into mediation there were mid-terms and students trying to get the time for them. I know a couple of them were complaining. But we told them mediation would require some work, that they had a week to get prepared. There are going to be negotiations. The students were going to have to have their information together, their demands. We said, "Do you know the data? Do you know how to address the issues, and what are your demands? Someone needs to get some of the information related to the demands from the administration beforehand." I know it was more about getting the students to commit their time. That was part of our assuring them that this was worth their time and effort. As we went through the mediation process -- we really had three formal sessions and the agreement -- there was a lot of work in between formal mediation sessions. We had students working with the vice chancellor regarding all the numbers from the student population. One of the demands was that thirty percent of the student population be African American. We ended up with goals in the agreement. They were worked out by the administration and the students looking at the numbers. It was pegged to the high school student population graduating in Massachusetts. I think they originally asked for thirty percent and the agreement was, once they worked through the numbers, twenty percent.

Question:
These weren't caucuses. These were actually work groups?

Answer:
We had two things. We had three formal mediation sessions. Before a couple of them there were work sessions with student representatives working with some of the administrators to get the numbers down and decide on what could take place. What they had to do, we urged the students and administrators, was to make sure that they really understood what they were doing. For example, one of the demands was for an Upward Bound program to recruit minority students to the campuses. They had just lost their federal Upward Bound grant, so this was a big issue. The University had come up with an alternative and had gotten money for it. Basically, it was the same numbers, but the university wanted to change some of the people who were involved because they didn't think the Upward Bound people were as effective in recruiting as they could have been. The administration came up with their own plan and money, but the students wanted to look at it and meet with the people related to it to see if it would live up to their expectations. One of the major concerns was who was going to be hired, fired and matters like that. The students were concerned about some of the people who were being fired, or laid off, because of the change of the program.

Question:
How many work groups were there?

Answer:
There were about two or three.

Question:
How many students were involved?

Answer:
About ten or twelve students were involved from the various organizations. The core group was always there and in a couple meetings I think we had one or two Native Americans. But the core group and the real driving force continued to be the Black Student Union leadership.

Question:
The mediation team for the community group was totally students of color?

Answer:
Yeah, ALANA.

Question:
Did they have any advisors during this process, the mediation?

Answer:
No advisors, per se, at the mediation sessions. The advisors to the students never manifested themselves directly. The administration had the president and the chancellor, vice chancellor, director of community affirmative action, and the director of student life, and the campus police chief.

Question:
What was the role of the general campus community? Was it involved in any way?

Answer:
No. The newspaper was covering the mediation sessions and it would come out with periodic reports on it. So did the Globe. The information was going back to the general campus and public. That kept the sense of getting information back to the community. The students did a lot of reporting back. They had meetings with their constituents after the sessions.

Question:
Did you do anything to prepare the teams or coach them before they came to mediation?

Answer:
I think we did coaching. In one sense we really didn't have to work through the demand process -- one thing we do in a lot of our cases. We didn't have to do that. Alerting them to what the process was, and how it would work, yes, in both groups. And whom we thought should be at the table. That was part of our effort. And going over the general ground rules. Other than that it was more informal communication back and forth, of knowing in general that the students are going to have X numbers, and these are the issues, and talking with both sides, sharing with them just a sense of a reality framework to clarify what they were thinking so that the sessions themselves could be productive. A lot of information had to go out to the students. We hoped they would read all of it because the administration prepared a lot of information about what they were doing and trying to do, what some of the past practices were, a lot of information. The whole informal communication process was important. Also, we had good relations right from the beginning with the student leader who represented them and was an excellent leader.

Question:
Did you ever have the need for caucuses?

Answer:
No. After each of the sessions we prepared a report on what the agreements were and got it out so that each of them knew what was taking place. We got that out in between the meetings.

Question:
Did they ever have to take issues back to their own constituencies before coming back to agree or disagree?

Answer:
Well, they kept saying that they would bring them back. Basically, after there was a preliminary agreement reached, the students would go back to their constituents and review that. The reaction from their constituencies was the first thing on the agenda for the next formal mediation session. Informally, we kept the lines open to get reactions.

Question:
Was this the first time that students and administration worked together on issues like this?

Answer:
The first time on racial issues. I thought that they really developed some good relations. The next time we went out to UMass, about 3 years ago, and in that one some of the same players were there from the administration. One of the concerns there was whether the administration was living up to the agreements from '92. There was another major issue and there were a whole new set of dynamics. It was graduate students and heath care, daycare and other things that did not relate to the racial issue. Yet they built their case around the '92 agreement. They wanted us to be the mediators to get these changes done. But it was a whole different dynamic.

Question:
Did you go out and work on that?

Answer:
Yes, I was the mediator there.

Question:
How did you justify dealing with issues that were not related to racial conflict?

Answer:
What they did was incorporate it into the ALANA agreement of 1992. That federation was still in existence to see that the agreements were being carried out. The leaders in 1996 reported back and they would sneak in these other issues and say, "In the meantime, this affects students of color." There was a difference though between the students and the administration in 1992 and in 1996. In 1992 the relationship continued to be very positive. It was much easier to deal with the issues. But in '96 it was very contentious because the administration would put on the table the various developments and other agreements that had been reached, or the implementation process that had taken place related to the 1992 agreement. Basically they were carrying out what they had promised. The numbers were good and a lot of the other agreements were there. But there were some other issues and dynamics that we didn't feel comfortable with and we really didn't want on the table because they really were not our issues. We said, "You should deal with them separately." Back to the case that we're talking about in '92, the feedback to the student population was ongoing and I think it worked out well.

Question:
Were there ever any times when there were differences of opinion within the student group?

Answer:
They didn't manifest it at the table. In '96 there were some contentiousness because of non-racial issues. In '92 what they did, like with the Columbus Day issue, was to let the Native Americans take the leadership, and they supported it. There was a dynamic that took place shortly after our mediation process. Some of the Jewish students had some problems with obtaining a site on campus. They used the same process that we had used with the administration and they worked it out. So, I think the administration was very pleased in '92 how this process really helped to settle things on campus and get the issues resolved and it was the type of process they should use.

Question:
Would you speak about your decision to use team mediation in this case?

Answer:
What we often try to do is, if we can, have a team. I prefer to have a team, especially in high profile cases when there is a lot of contentiousness and racial conflict; if for no other reason than to have all the parties feel comfortable with the process and with the team.

Question:
Implicit is that it's an inter-racial team?

Answer:
Yes. Inter-racial team is usually what I'm talking about. We tried to use it in a lot of work and high profile cases, such as in the Latino community.

Question:
Do you think race tends to be a factor in generating trust in terms of the race of the mediator?

Answer:
I think so. What we try to do is neutralize anything that could adversely affect the process. I think it's easier to gain trust when you have a biracial team. The history of long competency of the mediator is critical, but it's another part of the process. Sometimes you don't have the luxury and you have to do it yourself and we do it. In the UMass case we felt that because of the high profile and the intensity of the tensions that it would be important to us to start right away with a bi-racial team.

Question:
Are there any other advantages aside from the biracial dimensions of having a team rather then a single mediator?

Answer:
I think so. The team is less cost effective and with our limited resources although it's preferable, it is often unattainable. Having a team helps the process go better. In our rides back and forth, Larry and I would talk to one another about the dynamics of what took place, what we saw happening, our different observations and what we could do. I think it helped each of us to process the conflict better.

Question:
Did you often find that each of you saw different aspects of the process?

Answer:
Oh sure. You get different observations and feedback. Just in strategies of what we should and shouldn't do two minds are better then one, especially when they both are on the same type of level on processing information and dealing with problems.

Question:
Were there any differences among administrators that were evident in the mediation?

Answer:
Not at the meetings, but there were differences. That was part of our working with them. There were some things they needed to work out. Part of the problem was that they had cut back programs. Outreach to the community, training, the numbers of faculty and the recruitment of faculty all had been reduced. They were unable to carry through a lot of the things that were promised to the students, because the legislature had reduced the budget of the university.

Question:
In terms of security in student life what kinds of agreements were reached?

Answer:
A lot of it related to existing police practices. That would include hiring more police officers of color and improving the relations between the police and students. The students had resident assistants and one of the things that developed out of this was an action team to respond to racial incidents on campus. The action teams would not only be composed of police but also the persons from student life and others who were much more pro-student. There was the whole question of orientation that had to be corrected. There was the matter of the training of the support people, such as those who were in the bursar's office, and financial aid office and others to prevent racially insensitive actions or statements. There was also the whole matter of the faculty and how to address the problem that some teachers were insensitive to the racial issues in their work. The provost came up with some different ideas of how it could be done. Included in this discussion was the free speech issue and the type of workshops they could hold for the faculty.

Question:
So they did decide to do some workshops

Answer:
Oh sure. They really wanted to change the campus environment. You could see it. They did not come up with as comprehensive a program as nearby Smith College did. We worked with Smith College, I think it was two years later, and they come up with a whole program on diversity on their campus. One of our guys, Ed McClure, worked in developing a really comprehensive and excellent program on diversity and how to make it work.

Question:
Would you talk about the emotions of this conflict and how you addressed them? Was there anger or frustration? In terms of easing emotions?

Answer:
The important thing was that meeting with the president and students. We had met previously with the president and chancellor to discuss what they were going to say. That was important for them to help allay some of those tensions in the sense of what he was going to say or not say.

Question:
Did the president ask for your advice?

Answer:
Yes, we talked to him about how that meeting should go. He was sensitive to our work and his work in racial problems at the previous university and he knew the dynamic there. And the chancellor knew that he should not have walked out on the students the previous time. And that some of the language youth used in angry situations are part of the venting process and it's needed to occur. We talked about that. The most important thing was his willingness to convey that things were going to change and that he knew the issues; that the students did not have trust that the university was really going to carry forward and live up to whatever they would say. He also had to say something about the legitimacy of their demands and that the university was going to deal with them. So he set that tone. He did not increase the anger. The venting process takes place and I think that no matter what the person says it's going to be an angry type of confrontation that can leave people very upset about what the university didn't do, about that incident, about that person being beaten up and nobody doing anything and letting this guy come back on campus and nobody ever paying attention to the students and other incidents. That was the whole process and I think it's important for those things to take place. But they were able to go from there as they had planned to the next step. We've seen so many of these things. If they aren't prepared to go to the next step, then where do they go? That anger just percolates out there. It may recede over time as people do things, but it's there beneath the surface. If anything else that takes place, another triggering incident, that relationship is bad and then something else builds up and Boom!

Question:
Did you do anything that you haven't mentioned to help prepare the students to be ready for that next step or were they pretty much ready? You said that they had an agenda.

Answer:
They had an agenda but we talked with them and assured them how it was going to proceed and the most important thing was our view of the administration's good faith. That this was going to lead to something. What they really wanted to do, here's how they wanted to do it. "Give them the demands and you feed back to us what they're going to do." They told us, "We gave them our demands and we want to hear from them." It's an exchange of papers. I said, "I don't think that's the way to really do it. We'd like to make sure that we sit down together and talk about these issues. You explain what you want and they explain, but there is some information that has to be exchanged. Otherwise, it's not going to work. In the past there have just been promises. Let's go through these issues and work out what an agreement is. What is the administration going to say about your demands?" So we talked about the complexity, the demands, and the mediation process and how you reach an agreement so that people can live up to it. "It's a good faith agreement and each party needs to know what's entailed in carrying this thing forward and arriving at a solution." The students' sense of it was, give it, come back and that's the end of it.

Question:
Several things you said suggest that this might have been a good learning experience for all of the participants. Do you think that you helped them develop a capacity for managing conflict in the future?

Answer:
Yes, I think so. When the newest conflict came up, the students were able to resolve it through their own mediation process by sitting down and without any external person. To manage that type of conflict was good for them. When we went in there in '96, they really were talking to one another. There was a lot of trust between the students of color and the administration. There was a new dynamic that came in, the graduate students, but they were sort of grabbing that group and organization and using it for some of their own interests. Undoubtedly in their minds was a real conflict as to what should be done and they wanted to get some progress made in that area.

Question:
As part of your agreement did you develop a contingency plan to deal with future conflicts or some kind of conflict management system?

Answer:
The most important one, I thought, was the monthly reports by the chancellor in the campus newspaper to detail what was taking place.

Question:
Whose idea was that?

Answer:
I think in our preliminary discussions there was always a question of good faith.

Question:
Preliminary between the parties, or meeting alone with the parties?

Answer:
Meeting alone because the concern was this whole lack of confidence. They continued to say, "We don't trust you, you've promised these things in the past." We talked with them about it and the students met separately because I think it would have inhibited any good faith negotiations and discussions. I don't know who put it on the table, but it became the way of satisfying everyone that there would be progress reports. We didn't want to build ourselves into something that we would have problems complying with.

Question:
You mean you didn't want a long term involvement?

Answer:
Yes, we didn't want to have it that we would meet with them every 6 months or every 3 months to have a review, but it would be built into the process. It was something that we like to do, in our terminology, a se1f-enforcement mechanism, a process that we try to develop in the agreements so that there is some accountability system.

Question:
Could you talk a little bit about how you terminated this case?

Answer:
At the last session we went over the written agreements, we had a signing of the agreement by the administration staff and the students. So there was a written public agreement. It's a public document. In the last session we had the final agreement and then we had a press conference in which we spoke, and then the administration and the students. It got a real big play in the campus newspaper.

Question:
You spoke about the media and that you set some ground rules that during mediation you would speak for the teams. Were the representatives with you when you met with the media? Was there any resistance to them not being able to communicate with the media or did they anyway?

Answer:
No, the only time we had everyone together was at the last session. Other then that they let me be the spokesperson. It was more a perfunctory type of thing. We worked out a progress report at the table. We wouldn't share with the media any of the specifics that we had agreed to during the interim period. It was more pablum in many ways, just to reinforce that we were meeting and that progress was being made. We really wanted to get out the message that the groups were very serious about these issues. The media spokesperson for the university worked closely with us. She referred all the media people to us and the students abided by it as well.

Question:
Do you have a recollection of the approximate percentage of students of color at that time at the university?

Answer:
I think the total number of minority students of color was about twelve per cent.

Question:
Is there anything more about this case you want to say at this point?

Answer:
I just thought the interesting part of this case was that it was a higher education issue related to issues that keep coming up on college campuses and the process of dealing with it, which we constantly try to urge campus administrators to do, is that if they are going to work through these problems they really should have some type of ongoing dialogue, a communication process around the concerns of students of color. We just saw those problems this year down at Penn State. Right now we are organizing a region-wide conference on race and higher education, two days dealing with a cross section of these issues.

Question:
In this case did the agreement call for continued communication between the parties?

Answer:
No, I don't think we had to put it in there other then that ALANA was a recognized group and I think the understanding was that if there were problems the reports would come back. Their relationship had developed to such an extent that the student leader could pick up the phone and talk to the chancellor. There was a real good relationship that had developed.

Question:
In the UMASS case, you had easy access and felt comfortable enough moving onto campus. In a more typical case, would you make a phone assessment before going on site?

Answer:
Yes.

Question:
Will you talk about that process and how you decide whom to speak to and in what order?

Answer:
A number of our cases come from the media and basically the process we try to use is that unless there is already a major conflict taking place that involves violence, there is usually time to get the information. Even when there is major violence, say a civil disorder is taking place, our process is to alert the people that we are coming and get as much information as we can from the community on the background of the incident or conflict. I would say the critical aspect when we meet with any of the authorities is to have more information than what is in the media or the press. It is critical at those first meetings with the police chief or the mayor. They often say, "It was an isolated incident," or "It's something that we are in control of," and there is either a deliberate or a non-deliberate attempt to block and head off any further deliberations from outside. They often say, "We're handling it, we can handle it, it's really nothing major."In my mind, that's the usual mindset of authorities. If you have no more information than they do, there is nothing you can really go on. That's why before we go forward to have a meeting is to get as much information as possible about the totality of the picture. Often we are dealing with police-type cases. I remember one shooting and there were two dynamics working. In going to the community and talking to them about the issues we were trying to find out not only their concern about the officer who shot the person, but to explain to them the process that was going to happen, the chances of prosecution, the trial and the like. That was their immediate need. We can't satisfy that need other than explaining what process they can use and what their options are for getting redress for what they think is an unjustified shooting. We also need to meet with them to find out what else is taking place. That is, what lends itself to our process, that is, to mediation and conciliation processes other than the prosecution of that officer. That is the second dynamic.

Question:
Can you talk about this case? How you proceeded.

Answer:
A police officer in Herndon, Virginia shot and killed an African American. The newspaper headlines had "Community protests shooting by officer at the 7-11 Store," or something like that. Our first thing was to look at the newspaper article. We didn't know any of the players at all. There were a couple of names in there, so the phone calls started as to who was dealing with this issue. There were some ministers and there was a community group that had taken the leadership role. We talked to them about what was happening and what they knew about the matter. I said, "We want to see if we can be of assistance. I would like to sit down with your group to explore this thing." It was a matter of then trying to identify who are the players. I think regarding the community groups, it is who is moving this issue along? Often it takes awhile to do it, but that's our first process. I remember then calling the police chief saying I would like to sit down with him and we set up a time for that. Then it was the county supervisors who were in charge of the police department and calling them and saying, " I would like to sit down with you and talk about what is happening here and what happened there and the problems." Now because of being with Justice, I think we can get to first base. Very few if any people, I can't recall anyone, outright say, "No, I am not going to meet with you." In those types of cases the most difficult process issue is the reaction in the community. There is no one reaction in the community to a shooting death. There is no one leader. How the community will process the death is the critical issue. The first thing in meeting with the community was to assure myself that they were the leaders dealing with the shooting issue. After checking out the matter in a few phone calls, those identified in the media agreed to bring several of the leaders together who were meeting about this issue. It seemed that they were some of the people who were moving this matter. And so I sat down with them. Of course, they are talking about being angry; they want a prosecution; and "What can the Justice Department do about this?" and "What are you doing?" The first thing you do is to go through the spiel about here is the process. There are several avenues. "There is the internal review process by the police to do the investigation; you have the county attorney; you have the state attorney general who has jurisdiction; and you have the possible investigation by the FBI and Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice." So at least they know what their options are, what can take place and what the process is. After that, the other option is a civil case that can take place. "While that is ongoing," I tell them, "it is going to take some time. You can be recommending that and asking for this investigation or that investigation and things like that. In the meantime, I want to talk about other things that are taking place here. What is the relationship with the police department, how is it?" That starts the ball rolling as I try to elicit from them issues, concerns that now, with the attention given to the shooting, lend themselves to the dynamic of dealing with the problems and concerns in the relationship between the police and the community.

Question:
You are making an assumption about what is going on in the community?

Answer:
Yes, it's based on experience, but it is also important for CRS to try to determine whether -- it's part of the assessment process - there is a hook for us? What is the dynamic there? If in those meetings, the community leaders said, "No, we're great; the police are doing this; we have no problems, etc." than we would not proceed further. But we know from our background and all the data about communities of color, especially in the African-American community, that the general relationship between police departments and minority communities is not good. There is a lack of trust, a lack of response, access, and it's even worse between the youth and police. So protest activity by itself can lead to a lot of frustration and anger and that can lead to nothing. But, if directed, it might lead to getting at some of the issues and problems that are affecting the relationship between the police and community. It can be a springboard to doing something positive. The two things that have to be taken care of from our perspective, as I see it is, first, we need to know what can be done about the specific shooting itself and the redress systems for the shooting. So that was the first thing. We've got to clarify that and put it into perspective. It gives them a sense of direction to follow if they want to and it puts that aside because we really can't do anything about the investigation or prosecution. Then it gets into analyzing and assessing what else is taking place in that community that, with the attention given to this, that maybe we can help both the police and the community to deal with it. Anger is there. So what we are trying to do is get that tension directed into some effective type of response. That's the process of talking with community leaders. In that information gathering they start talking about some of the problems, issues and concerns. After that meeting I had a meeting with the chief coming up and the superintendent and country supervisor. So I got enough information there and said to the community leaders, "Well, in general would you like to pursue this and deal with some of these problems if we can get the chief and the county authorities to address some of these issues?" And they said, "Yes." So I went back and met with the chief.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So, we met with the tribes, and it was really difficult just to get consensus among the tribes; there was a lot of distrust. We knew that we had the basic common ground of reburial. I think that whenever I conduct mediation I'm always asking myself, "Is there enough in common interest to balance it off the differences on the issues?" Common ground was the sacredness of the remains, and the need for the ancestors to return to Mother Earth. So we kind of leveraged that idea throughout the mediation process. "If you guys don't come to consensus, then what's going to happen to the remains? They're going to stay there. We need to figure out what you've got to do. Something's got to give here." We constantly leveraged the common ground against the different tribal interests.

Question:
The alert came to you originally from this woman, or one of the Native American Commission?

Answer:
I knew the woman, I knew the issue, but I think she had also been contacted by the Native American Heritage Commission.

Question:
How did you know the issue?

Answer:
I had worked with her on some other cases, and she had alerted me that she was in touch with the institution, and that she was going to see what she could do to get those remains returned. So I knew of the issue, but I had not initially opened a case. At the same time, the institution had contacted the Native American Heritage Commission and requested its assistance. And in our discussions, we had learned that the two parties had contacted different people.

Question:
By "our discussions," you mean your discussions with whom?

Answer:
My discussions with one of the tribal members, and then Larry's discussions with the institution. Since we had worked closely together anyway, we shared information and found that they were talking to different people about the same issue. That's when I decided to do this jointly with the Native American Heritage Commission, mainly Larry Myers, the executive director. So we met with the institution to confirm where they were coming from and what their bottom line was. We subsequently met with the tribelets of the tribe to begin to identify their representatives of spokespersons.

Question:
How did you identify the parties?

Answer:
We went to each of the families over a period of months.

Question:
You define a family as?

Answer:
All the stakeholders that we could find. The Native American Heritage Commission keeps a list of most-likely descendents to any geographic area. Through a list of people that Larry had provided we went down that list and worked with those families who likely had relationships to the remains. Later, we met with leaders of those families, and eventually brought the leaders of those families to one large gathering of the tribe.

Question:
Over what period of time?

Answer:
I would say that it took at least a two and one half months. We had at least 10 meetings. You always have a lot of hits-and-misses - people don't show up for meetings, so you have to go back... we were driving all the way out to these rural areas and meeting with people, only to find that the right leaders weren't there. So we'd have to come back and meet again. It was an exhausting pre-mediation process.

Question:
I'm curious about the assessment.

Answer:
When you say "assessment," I think we knew where we were going pretty early, because we had the basic contacts between the leader of one of the tribelets and the institution, and the willingness of the institution to mediate. So we knew where we were going; we almost immediately turned the assessment into the pre-mediation, because we knew that we already had consensus that they're going to be mediation.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I'm curious about the assessment.

Answer:
When you say "assessment," I think we knew where we were going pretty early, because we had the basic contacts between the leader of one of the tribelets and the institution, and the willingness of the institution to mediate. So we knew where we were going; we almost immediately turned the assessment into the pre-mediation, because we knew that we already had consensus that they're going to be mediation.

Question:
You were confident you knew the player, the parties?

Answer:
We were confident that we knew how to get to the players. We knew that we had a list of most-likely descendents, and that always leads to more descendents, but we had enough of the contacts to track down the key leaders. And they would come because of the common ground and the interest in the number of remains. We knew this case would be spiritual to Native Americans and that there was a lot of interest in what would happen with the remains.

Question:
You could set your goals pretty early in this case?

Answer:
Yes, we were pretty confident.

Question:
What were those goals?

Answer:
Those goals were to sit down with the institution and figure out under what conditions and circumstances the institution and the Ohlone tribe could agree to return and rebury the Native American remains. We had a list of issues that we anticipated the Native Americans would ask, and a couple of things that had already come up. One, they wanted all of the remains. They wanted them to be buried in a certain location, and they wanted that location to be concealed. Two, they wanted to identify any of the artifacts that were related to what they called funerary objects to be returned with those remains, and to be tracked, and to go through and contact the professors to see whether anybody had, unintentionally or intentionally, borrowed any of the artifacts. So those were some of the types of demands or requests -- that would be brought to the table for discussions. So, what I normally do is, we get a list of those issues that the complainant has, and in this case we would consider the Ohlone People the complainant. We shared that list with the institution, and said, "Is they're anything that is not negotiable on their list of issues and do you have any additions to make?" There was an additional issue that the institution made because some 200 remains were not available because they were on loan to another institution. They had loaned them for study by another school, which they didn't remember until later. At some point later we got consensus and agreement on a list which served as the agenda when we came to the table. We structured this so that we had five to six representatives for the Ohlone and three from the Institution. All of the families had a representative at the table. But they wanted their elders there, because they have to consult with their elders on spiritual matters. This is a typical situation in a lot of Native American cases -- the elders make the calls, but they don't come to the table; they send the young people to represent them. So we had to negotiate some of the logistics in terms of the Institution understanding why the representatives would be going to their elders to have caucuses to allow for clearance of some of the issues as we go through the mediation process. That was all concurred in by the parties before we came to the table.

Question:
Was there anything specific that you did to build your credibility with the parties?

Answer:
I always insist on meeting the parties face-to-face. When I make my initial contacts, I try to minimize the amount of talking I do on the phone, and I try to explain what CRS is, what our intentions are, and that I am a mediator and will attempt to resolve whatever conflicts are out there. "Could I see you or meet with you at any point?" I ask that right away, because I think they can't begin to build trust until they see you, they get a sense of what you're about, and I've always found that to be surprisingly easy for me, I don't know why. Sitting down with people, and sometimes being very factual and explaining what we're trying to accomplish as a service to them and of course at no cost to them. I think it is always a kind of, "Why not take the risk?" I think it is a marketing process, but it really takes a face-to-face marketing opportunity, and it's a service that will hopefully accomplish their objectives.

Question:
Does it always work?

Answer:
Not always, but most of the time it works. I always try to draw the biggest picture I can when I'm talking to people about a complaint or when they are grieving an issue, because I want the parties to have a lot of options, and I think it's always good to help them to look at what options they have, and to see mediation as one of those options. They have control of the time and their participation -- all of those factors that mediation typically allows a party to control. When they see mediation juxtaposed to the other options, often times they choose to try mediation. I'm going to change the subject.

Question:
Go ahead. We can come back to this case.

Answer:
Okay, when I do a typical excessive-use-of-force case, where somebody's been killed, and there's some level of shock, I always talk to them about, "Let's look at where we are. When the incident occurred, you went through shock. Then you go through denial, certainly you wished it didn't happen and you want it to go away. But then you get to the point of anger, disappointment. And then you begin to get to the point of blame and you start blaming sometimes yourself and others, who's at fault? You can either stay there -- some people stay there for a long time -- that blame period is what I consider the marching period, when groups go marching and demonstrating and are venting anger. Later you reach a point of acceptance. You accept that it took place: "I know it took place, but how do I deal with it?" Then you can go to resolution and reconciliation. So, when you explain to people what the process is and they can find themselves, and I usually say, "Look, you may want to demonstrate. You may want to march, and we can do that as long as you want to and we'll work with you on that. But until you get to some type of resolution, when you're going to stop and really work through the issues, you're not going to be able to put this behind you." This is how I try to give them a sequence and a picture of a process. I do this for other kinds of cases as well as. The parties have the option, whether to pursue a civil suit or mediation, or to continuing to march, but "here's where you are, here's the options that you have, and this is what I am offering you. You can proceed with all your legal options, you'll need to get a lawyer, you'll need to file a suit, you'll need to see what you can find pro bona, you can file a complaint, you can go through EEO; every scenario of any kind of complaint has a number of options and I want you to be in control, and I want you to understand what I can offer you as a federal mediator."

Question:
People have the patience to listen to this if they're angry or enraged?

Answer:
By the time I get to the meetings with people, the anger is there, but they want to know what their options are. They're interested in that. Their anger needs to get focused on something constructive at some point, and I think they realize that. I think they appreciate it if you can give them that big picture. That's the way I approach a lot of cases. So in the case with the institution, we talked about all of the options. Because the institution had already consented to go to mediation, we knew where we were going, so it wasn't hard to get them to sit down and really work with us. When we actually went to the table, we had an agreement on the full agenda, and as we went through the list of issues, it went fairly smoothly because I think we knew where we were going and we knew the parties common ground and interest and we knew that the institution was willing to concede the remains to the tribe. They had learned about the spiritual need for Native Americans and recognize that they did all the testing and learning they could with these remains. They had no real, viable use for the remains. The pictures they had taken and the pre-measurements and all of the analysis they had was documented in a way that they didn't have to hold these remains to teach students in the future. So they were comfortable. But we reached an impasse on the issue of the remains that were on loan to another institution for a period of time. The Native Americans, at that point, said, "We want those remains to be buried with the other remains at this time. We've agreed to a time, a date, a location, and we have a ceremony to do. What are we going to do with these remains on loan? They need to be brought back." The institution was caught, because they had made a commitment to another institution. We couldn't get the parties to agree on a delay of the whole process, because the Native Americans were anxious to get the remains into the ground to evolve its natural process. The institution was caught because it couldn't get the remains back without violating its commitment. They had talked about talking to the other institution to see if they could get the remains returned earlier, but that was impossible because the other institution had not finished doing important testing. I think, in all honesty, the representative of the first institution made a viable effort to try to get the remains and expressed that to the Native Americans. So we were stuck in this impasse. We couldn't figure out how we could get the Native Americans to allow the institution to have an extension. It looked like we had to go that way because the institution that had borrowed them had not finished what they needed to do and had begged the institution to allow them to do that. And in good faith, the first institution said, "We cannot violate that commitment." We were there for hours. We looked at all the options we could come up with. We caucused and we came back. We took lunch and came back to the table, but there was no movement. We did everything we could to see whether we could refresh and energize the parties to back and figure out some acceptable option. It was about the third or fourth caucus when one of the representatives came up to me and said, "I think I have the way." She was the spokesperson of one of the tribes. I asked her what was it? "They have to tell us." "Tell you what?" I asked. 'They have to say, 'That's the way it is, you can't have them. That's the only way. You can't have the remains until we are done in two months.' They have to tell us."

Question:
Who was at that session?

Answer:
It was a caucus. We had taken a break and she had come and asked to caucus with Larry Myers and myself.

Question:
She wanted to talk to you away from the group."

Answer:
Yes.

Question:
Was she representing the group?

Answer:
She was a strong enough leader and we knew she had the confidence of most of the group. There was no doubt about it that whatever she said was going to go. She had that kind of influence. It was kind of interesting because we went to the institution and told them they had to say, "This is a non-negotiable! You have to tell them that those remains are not going to be available, absolutely, and that's the only way this is going to work. And the Dean of the Department said, "What?" He didn't want to take a hard position and feel like the institution was being dogmatic. They had been very open and cooperative and all of a sudden now they are going to say, "No...this is absolute...you can't have them for two months, and until this takes place, they're just not available." They were very reluctant to do that, but Institution representatives finally realized what the message was. The real message behind the option was that the Native Americans did not want to betray their ancestors. If they gave permission for the University to hold the remains any longer then they would have violated the trust of their elders and the spirits of their ancestors. But if they are told by the institution to wait two months, then it wasn't on them. It was the ownership of the betrayal that was important to them, and that was the only way we got through that impasse. It came through a caucus...and nobody really wanted to do it, but it was the only way. So, there was an agreement that there would be an extension. Those are the subtle things that made this case very memorable for me, because after all that impasse, sometimes it's just the little subtle, intimate way you say things, is sometimes more important that the whole issue. That one has always left a lesson for me. It was a special case.

Question:
Who put the agenda together? Was that a one shot mediation?

Answer:
I think that was a two shot...two days, and they were long sessions, like 4 hours.

Question:
Two consecutive days?

Answer:
Yes, I believe so.

Question:
Who put the agenda together for the meeting?

Answer:
I put the agenda together and we did that through the earlier consensus process with the complaints. We listed all of those issues and shared it with the university and they looked at those issues and added issues. Even after we went to the table, other issues subsequently came up. So it wasn't on our initial agenda as I recall. But the agenda was agreed upon prior to entering mediation.

Question:
Did you work with either party before mediation to prepare them for the table?

Answer:
Yes, Larry Myers and I met with the parties several times to go over the issues, to insure consensus by the Ohlone People and to confirm the parties agreement to cooperate and select spokespersons of their respective teams. I had worked with the Ohlone on a number of other cases with other cities. So I was very familiar with many of the parties. And in the consensus building, we outlined exactly what worked, what the process was, and what we hoped to accomplish, and shared this with the institution to meet with them, and assess their sincerity to try to meet some agreement on these issues. I think the institution was very sophisticated and supportive of what we were trying to accomplish in extensive meetings to prepare the Ohlone for mediation.

Question:
Was there any media coverage of this?

Answer:
There was no media coverage of this that I know of. But I actually saw a picture...there was a gentleman named White Owl who came in to bless the mediation process. He came in and chanted a blessing and took a picture. And I didn't think anything of it...but what we didn't know was that he was writing a book.

Question:
And no one knew he was writing a book?

Answer:
I didn't know he was writing a book. I don't think he said anything about it. But one day a friend of mine said, "Steve I saw your picture in this book." He had written a story about Native Americans' spirits and beliefs and in it there is a picture of myself and the Dean of the Anthropology Department, and Larry Myers and a caption saying, "this is a mediation case dealing with remains." So it's not as though it was not made public, but we did not have a press conference at that particular time.

Question:
You had an impasse at one point in this mediation. Tell us about how you respond to impasses.

Answer:
Well, when they come up and we are not expecting it, we all look at each other and everybody's face is saying, "This is not working. We're not making any progress here. Why is this issue so difficult?" We keep attempting to see what other options we can come up with. Typically when you reach an impasse, and there's no give and take by either party, we like to call a caucus and see if we can get any more information as to what are the particulars and what are the positions and concerns of either party with regards to the issue we are stuck on. In the caucus, I try to clarify where people are on the issues, and why. For the institution we knew that they had made a commitment and they made every effort to alter that commitment, but they could not. It was just something they didn't have control of. At least that was their sense of it. From the Ohlone's position, there was no way that those remains should stay in the Institutions and unburied. "They are disrespecting our people, and our people are yearning to be turned to the soil. They've had them long enough."

Question:
This was told to you in caucus?

Answer:
Yes.

Question:
Was it told to them at the table?

Answer:
I think it was shared somewhat. But those are the kinds of things they were saying, "Will you relay that to them? They need to understand why you feel this way. Will you relate it to them?" Actually trying to bridge what they would share with us in caucus, we would try to say, "Okay, we understand your point, why didn't you say that at the table? Let's bring that to the table and see if that will help us, so we're able to get more information and get an agreement that more information should be shared as to why you feel the way you do."

Question:
They were reluctant originally to share at the table?

Answer:
They did not share all that information at the table.

Question:
Is that typical in the mediations you do, that the parties hold back?

Answer:
I think it depends. With the Native Americans, there is a subtle respect at the table that they show differently in the caucuses. And sometimes you need to flush it out or get permission to speak for them at the table to bring out some of those more intimate details, because I think there is a pride of their behavior with respect to the other party. So, for those reasons, we had to work a little differently. In other cases where you reach impasse -- Vermont McKinney (CRS mediator) and I had a real interesting case. Do you want to finish this one? Cause you can have me jumping all over the place.

Question:
Go ahead, we can come back.

Answer:
Okay, Vermont McKinney and I had an interesting case where we were asked by a U.S. Attorney to go into a situation where three Native Americans were killed by members of a town police department on the borders of a reservation. Some Native Americans would go into the town and they would get drunk and maybe throw a bottle or something and it would escalate to the point where they would end up being killed. The police had killed three Native Americans within six months. So the tribal police said, "Look, don't touch our people. If you feel they've done something wrong and you're going to arrest them, call us and we'll take care of our own people." And the townspeople said, "No way. They're in our jurisdiction, they're ours." Then the tribal police said, "You do it again, and we'll be there, and then we've got a problem." So that's when the U.S. Attorney says, "Community Relations Service, we think we could use a mediator." So we sent in, Ada Montare, a former CRS Conciliation Specialist. She was doing her assessment, and working with the parties, and she happened to be parked out in front of a store on a major highway. She was getting into her car, and a car hit her. She was hospitalized with a broken pelvis. She was taken by helicopter to San Bernadino, and eventually she was brought up to San Francisco where she recuperated from her injury. It was decided by the Regional Director that we better send two people in there. Vermont and I went in and met with the Chief of Police for the town. We met with the tribal police, we met with the tribal council and we met with city council. When we met with the Chief, he had an M-16 rifle in back of his desk. He said, "Oh, you send two guys this time. Who's the bodyguard of who?" And we're concerned about why is this guy making these kinds of comments? It was kind of demeaning. We knew we might have problem here. We did our assessment and tried to figure it out. We could never get the chief of police together with the tribal chief. It would just be one accusation after another. It was very tense at that level. But we decided we could bring the town council representatives and the tribal council representatives together. Vermont was really taking the lead on this case. It was decided that we get the two councils together to sit in on the mediation. In this case, we hit another impasse. We met several times with the parties prior to convening mediation. There were just a lot of issues in this particular case. We knew what the issues were, and we knew what the concerns of the Native Americans were. We conveyed that we were given permission to relay to the town council representatives. The town council reviewed the proposed issues and were willing to discuss them, so we started setting up our mediation schedule.






Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

That results from looking and listening and making a detailed assessment. You look at people and see who they're talking with, and try to make a determination whether they are sincere in their efforts, or they're just promoting themselves at the expense of the group. And many times you're fooled into supporting or associating with the wrong person. But you just can't go in and assume that a given person is the leader. You have to find out who the real leader is. It may not be the one up there talking, the one who has the microphone. Sometimes it's the person standing there with a pair of coveralls on and his hands up into the bib area. So you have to do an accurate assessment to find out who the leader is. Then you begin to talk with those persons. And then the most important thing is, don't you try to take credit. When I did this, you always say, "Well, thank you." You give them the credit for what they're doing, and you will find out that the result is very rewarding and productive.



Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Would you walk us through how you assessed? What were you looking for? Did you call people in advance? Just tell me all the steps that you can think of.

Answer:
When I first went into Washington, NC, following SCLC's request, I had never been to Washington, NC in my life. It is a beautiful revolutionary town. There were houses built during that time. It has a beautiful river front. I was simply amazed at the beauty of it. Then I start inquiring. The first thing you do, you go to the black mortician. They're independent of the system. The barber shop, the beauty parlors. Then after talking to them, I tended to ask, "Who's the pastor in this town?" You know, the one pastor I think that could give me an overview of really what's going on this town. Then I would go to the schools. And I am going to say this with caution, and I hope you fully understand what I'm going to say -- but in the nature of this work, I'd try to find a Jewish business person. Because they have in some time suffered the effects of discrimination, the same as we have. And they would be very honest in telling me who the people were that I needed to deal with. And another thing that I would use, I always would ask the black people, "Who are the white people you think I need to see?" They would tell me. Then I would ask the white people that I would meet with, the white business leaders, and the elected officials, "Who are the blacks I need to talk with?" And nine times out of ten, they are the ones you didn't talk with.

Question:
You didn't?

Answer:
I wouldn't or they'd be the very last. They would not be at the top of my list, because they are the so-called hand-picked blacks that the white community has always used. So I made it a point for them not to be the first blacks that I would contact. Then I would go to the schools because, at that time, most of the schools were predominantly black. I'd meet with the principal and some of the teachers, and then try to find a teacher who's had the most difficulty, actually the one that's very outspoken. I try to bring little groups together and let them talk, and I listen. I mean you don't just sit there, you gotta listen to what people are saying. Then sometimes it's important to realize what's not being said. You just go on from that point.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

After getting up there I attended a meeting and they didn't even know who I was. So finally, I had to identify myself and the people just looked at me. They didn't understand what I was going to do. "Why are you here? Are you going to be part of the investigation?" So I explained to them as briefly as I could, because it was getting late and I stayed around for a few days talking to various groups. I set up an office in an undertaker establishment, and he even allowed the SCLC to pitch tents on the grounds of the funeral home. From that, I started making contact with various people and organizations, but initially they looked at me very suspiciously. Then, I moved through with talking with the sheriff and talking with some other people. The sheriff, somehow or another, just humbled himself. We met very quietly in the wooded area late at night. So we talked about everything in confidence. Then I was led to believe that maybe this young girl was not as guilty, or it didn't happen in a manner that it was said to have happened. This man (the jailer) had a terrible reputation, but he was from a very prominent family. Everything in that general area was owned and run by his family. They just wanted to prosecute her and send her to the electric chair if they could, in order to uphold the family name.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Once I get there, I ask them several things from their point of view. What do they think is going on? Also, these people will tell me a lot of things about each other. Sometimes people have things they don't want you to know. So we just ask a lot of questions. Who's the leadership, who's the top educator, who's the top businessman, who speaks out front, who's in the back? Who calls the shots? They tell us. Then we make sure we talk to those five key individuals. Then we can pretty much be effective. The whole point of being effective is to create some kind of change or to help them progress, to solve their own problems.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I talk to them individually and as a group to get a consensus. Always I ask, what do they think has to be done to resolve what's going on, and what role do they want to play. From this I try to get a community committee made up of all these elements. Once this committee decides to go somewhere and do something it will most likely be successful, because they have the okay of all these elements. That applies everywhere. Wherever you go there's different sectors of clubs or churches and they're all interrelated. The politicians may also be business persons, they have kids in school, they go to church, they belong to some clubs, their relatives might be in law enforcement. It's the same with everybody, in law enforcement the cops go to church and they have businesses, so it's all interrelated. You must have representation of the entire town, and if this committee decides to do one, two, and three, it likely will happen.



Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

And then there's what we call an on-site assessment. Where you go on-site and you determine surely, who the parties are in the conflict, what are the demands, what parties are blocking or refusing to yield to the demands, and as a result of that, what the problem is.

Question:
Okay, that's what I want you to walk us through. How do you know who the conflict is with? Who are the parties? What are the demands? Exactly what you said.

Answer:
Well, I knew that it was the sanitation workers. It was just a matter of finding out particularly who was leading the sanitation workers and where their leadership was coming from, who was making the decisions. I knew it was against the city, so it was just a matter of finding out what powers in the city were pulling the strings. The mayor, the city council, what part everybody was playing. You do that by just simply conferring with people. I went to the sanitation workers' leadership to find out exactly what their demands were. By this time they'd been circulated everywhere, anyway, in the newspaper and in leaflets. And I sat down with the parties to see where it is that they were.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Robert Vortier found himself in Lamett, Utah one summer and there were two black men jogging and the only thing wrong with that picture was that these two black men were jogging with their girlfriends, who were white. There you had a murder and a hate crime. Of course at that time, they weren't calling it a hate crime. They were just calling it a racist act. Vortier shot these two guys on a Wednesday, and on Thursday I was on an airplane going to Lamett. I didn't have to do the work I had to do up in Blue Sky, because I knew most of these people by this time. Blue Sky was '72 or '71, and this was '77. And I knew all of the people in Lamett. The NAACP, the police chief, the sheriff and the African American community and all these folks. I had a decent relationship with all those folks, and they trusted me a little bit. I think that the most outstanding thing that happened there was that they really found out what I was worth. That night, about five hundred people gathered in the local black community center in Lamett. This is where I met most of the minority community. This was a time when instead of being a stranger, I knew a lot of the folks, because they had asked me to come up there. Unlike the last time, the police chief came with me to this big meeting of five hundred people. They wanted to know what was going to happen. "Are you going to arrest this guy?" they asked, and he said, "He's left town. The FBI's probably out looking for him now." As it turned out, Vortier was mad. He happened to see two black guys jogging with two white girls. They caught him and they brought him back and put him in the jail. But what happened was my credibility was enhanced when I said the local police chief would catch him and bring him back. So, the African American community was pleased with that, that Vortier was caught and brought back. Of course after that, he was shipped on, but he was prosecuted and he is still in prison today.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Whatever the conflict might have been, you looked at it and then you assessed it. You made an assessment of the situation. An assessment is simply a rule of thumb, more or less, where you go in and try to identify what the conflict is about, what the issues are, and who's been hurt. Have there been any injuries, any violence, anything like that, the important stuff to the overall community? You kind of evaluate it or analyze it. What level of tension is this? Is there a high degree of tension? Are people pulling guns on each other, or are they speaking low and whispering?

Question:
And how were you able to get that information?

Answer:
Observation, experience, training.....you had training in this agency. We spent a lot of time going through tactics and strategies and so forth. You learned how to do that, and your experience helped you too, so that you could just look at the situation and determine, "Hey, this is something that's really heavy. This is something that we really have got to become involved in." So you shared that information with your colleagues and others to determine whether or not you should be involved.

Question:
Was there a minimum or maximum number of cases you could be involved in? Did you gauge them or was it a little bit more free for all, where you were able to use your own judgment?

Answer:
We basically used our own judgment all the time. When we were on-site, in the midst of things, it had to be your judgment and then you would report back to certain coordinators or supervisors or directors, as to what your observations might have been. And then once you did that, you came back and tried to discuss a strategy or plan for how you were going to approach this situation to try to, number one: diffuse the tension, and number two: see if you could get everybody to talk, come together. If you could not do that, you went back and discussed, and identified a number of resources that you were going to need to get certain things done. And so after you did that, you charged off into the woods.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

This is where you go in and you make a real careful assessment or analysis of the situation to be able to determine who's skilled and who's not. Sometimes you're wrong. But a lot of times you're right. You've got to watch it and say to yourself, "Hey, these people are skilled individuals here. Highly educated, highly motivated." Well, when we felt that a particular group was eventually going to "come to yes" in a particular conflict, it made us feel good inside, and we felt that we had no need to intervene. The next step was for us to make our reservations and get out of town, and go on to the next task. And then there are times when you can walk into a situation where you're the least educated of the group that you're dealing with, and then you sit back and carefully try to assess the situation as to what role you really are going to play.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

First, I wanted to come up with just basic information about what happened. Then after that, who perceives what? Does the white students' association perceive it to be this way? Do the black athletes perceive it to be that way, and so forth.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I went over there by myself and got a car and drove down to this little town. I made contacts with the person who was heading up this Indian festival deal. She began to tell me about the problems they were having. So I looked at the situation and said, "My role here would be to see if I can keep the police from beating up on the Indian people. I would go meet then with the sheriff and everybody else. And the sheriff was a black man. And he was half Indian and half black. But he was strictly for law and order.



Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
And if you had the feeling that they probably wouldn’t, would that be a reason for you not to get involved?

Answer:
Not necessarily. It certainly would make your job a lot harder, but what CRS would do is that they would change the nature of the intervention. So if the intervention was initially thought of as being a conciliation or a mediation that would bring both sides together, and one side or the other (particularly the establishment side) decided that they didn’t want that to happen, you could still go in, but you wouldn’t be doing that; you’d be doing something else. Maybe trying to reduce the level of violence, or doing some kind of evaluative work with the minority.......it tended to get CRS people in trouble when they did that, because the other side always knew when you were in town, and you’d have to sort of answer to the question: "I thought we told you we weren’t interested.” "Yeah, but I’m here doing something else.” And you don’t want to push it to the point where you’re saying, "I’m the federal government, and I can go anywhere I want.” You don’t want to do that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Why did you send four people up originally? That sounds like a higher number than our other interviewees in the initial assessment.

Answer:
The first assessment that I did, we sent Jim Freeman from the Washington staff and one field worker from my region with him. That was about par for the course. I might have even sent Greenwald up because he was a specialist, too, having done Louisiana. When I went in, I just figured I needed all the help I could get. Greenwald was available, and that just made me stronger, I wouldn't have known how to interpret anything up there. The guys could help me, and then I just winged it after that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What you want to do is find out what happened and you start an assessment once you start asking these questions. I mean, you're in the case from the first phone conversation. You might close it in a minute, but right then you're in it, so you are doing all those things a good mediator has to do. The listening, drawing out information, taking good notes. At the outset you are more likely to be doing this on the phone. What is happening? Who is involved? You want to know what happened - - the history of the conflict. What are the issues? How long has it been going on? What has been done to date to resolve the problem? It's probably on any academic's list, any conflict map. Those sorts of questions are used to assess the situation.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

For example, I was working with a group in Minneapolis, and former Congressman, Bob Frasier, was the new mayor of Minneapolis. There’s a small African American community there, and I was drawn in because a special friend of the director of CRS was a woman who worked for the Urban Coalition out of Washington. She called me and said "We have a chapter, we have a newer man in Minneapolis, with the Urban Coalition.” (The Urban Coalition was an establishment-oriented public service group that addressed race relations in urban areas.) "He needs some help.” So I went and talked to him, and there were race problems related to police. You had that new mayor, so it looked like it would be a good place to make a mark. We had done some good things in that part of the country over the years. We knew the players, but not well enough. I had not done my homework well enough. This is one of the disadvantages when you’re shooting in and out of places, and trying to be all over the place. Especially if you’re the regional director focusing on a community. But by that time we had a very small staff and we hadn’t spent a lot of time in that part of the country in some years.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Very often we would make entry into a case by a phone call from a person in the minority or church community. While conducting the assessment, we would call the establishment party and tell them we had heard there was this problem. "Oh, where did you hear that?” And you’d invent language, or pet phrases and just talk generally, but you would not reveal who alerted you to the problem. When asked, "Who have you talked to about this,” You might respond, "Well, a number of people.” You try not to say who you spoke with or met with if you think it will create a problem. Sometime we would plan an on-site visit to start late in the day when the offices are closed. We would call ahead and tell the city office we would be arriving Tuesday night and would like to meet with them first thing Wednesday morning. Then on Tuesday night you could meet with the community people who may not be available during the day anyway because they’re at their jobs. You’re up until two in the morning or until midnight working. And then at 8 in the morning when you see the city official you say, I got in last night and had a chance to speak with some of the people in the community who are concerned a bout the problem. That way, you didn’t violate protocol by not seeing him first, especially if it’s a mayor. Sometimes it was important to see an official first, but if it wasn’t critical, then you try it the other way and you get the community perspective of the problem before you meet with the public official.



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What kind of questions did you ask in these interviews?

Answer:
I asked them where they believed that the institution was discriminating. What kinds of things would be helpful?




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What questions do you ask to get this going?

Answer:
Just, "What's the conflict here?" Usually I am there because something has happened or somebody has issued a petition. So I just say, "Okay, so tell what this is about." One of the questions that I have learned is, "When did this happen?" I am thinking of a case of police use of force in Indian country. As I met with the minority community, I heard horror stories of the kinds of beatings that had taken place and abuse of citizens and so on. The first time, I was overwhelmed. They were all terrible. Then I found out that some of them had taken place 15 years ago. "It happened to my son who is now in college." That doesn't make it any less important. I am not minimizing the relevance of that, but I did learn to ask, "When did this happen?" instead of just assuming. My mindset at first was like, "Tell me what happened." I would hear the stories assuming that it had happened at least within the last year. But what I am hearing isn't just what happened in the last year, but the whole history of this. So when I asked, "When did it happen?" in that case, I tried to make sure that they didn't feel what happened twenty years ago wasn't important, but as we get closer to the actual joint meeting, it's important to know what the long term history is and what's happened more recently.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Yes, it's based on experience, but it is also important for CRS to try to determine whether -- it's part of the assessment process - there is a hook for us? What is the dynamic there? If in those meetings, the community leaders said, "No, we're great; the police are doing this; we have no problems, etc." than we would not proceed further. But we know from our background and all the data about communities of color, especially in the African-American community, that the general relationship between police departments and minority communities is not good. There is a lack of trust, a lack of response, access, and it's even worse between the youth and police.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

"What is it that we think we ought to do? How do you think we ought to do it? Okay, fine. Let's call some of these teachers that were concerned about this." This happened to be San Diego. We called them in and we said, "Here's what we would like to do. What do you think?" And then they gave us their input.



Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

does it take a lot of time to make a good assessment, or is time a critical factor?

Answer:
Timing does weigh very heavily on some decisions, but then again, make sure, if timing is an issue, to do as much as you possibly can to be sure that your assessment is accurate and factual. Sometimes it's going to take a lot more time because you have so many different factions, groups, and organizations, and the problems are a lot more complex than what you've anticipated or what has been told to you. Many times it's not the problem itself, it's so many underlying problems that if you're not careful you'll be responding to one thing when really it's another. And then you have to listen to what people are saying, and many times pay attention to what's being said. A lot of times people say things that will get them in a great deal of trouble afterwards.




Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

It took a few visits to find everybody and sit down and find out that they were willing to undertake the process. We suggested that they select a team representing each party and that each team then select a leader. Then we went through some of the processes of negotiation. We had a set of suggested mediation ground rules that one of my colleagues, Bob Greenwald, had compiled. We found this usually worked pretty well. It started out as just a little two-page document which he called "Notes on Mediation." It gave an introduction of what mediation is and then suggested a few ground rules. With his permission I started using that and gradually added to it with additional ideas and ground rules which I found useful. Both parties looked this over and agreed to proceed, so we had both the neighboring community parties, one more reluctant than the other, enter into formal mediation.



Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The assessment that I did took place over probably 5 or 6 months. We made sure that we had all the points of contact that were necessary. What separates this from a regular case is that instead of going into Birmingham, AL and dealing with the mayor of Birmingham or the police in Birmingham, here you've got the Olympics coming to the city of Atlanta and you've got literally every level of law enforcement involved, every level of governmental entity. So there was a massive group of people we needed to touch base with to be able to move around to be able to get things done. Part of the assessment required an extensive amount of identifying who the key leaders were in different areas and then making contact with them. That way they would know who I was and vice versa. In the Olympics you've got all these people coming from all over the world. You've got an extremely diverse cultural atmosphere and because of that you've got the potential for all kinds of conflict particularly between law enforcement and people. The police aren't running the show, but they are making sure that it flowed smoothly. The tension for conflict between police, the majority of who would be white, and people from all kinds of parts of the world was exceptionally high and so we were trying to identify how that would work and where we would plug into this. The assessment and that leads me up to, the key factor in the assessment process was to make sure that we knew where we fit and where we could best provide the kind of service that we were supposed to.

Question:
How did you know who to contact, who would be the key players that you needed to bring into this process?

Answer:
Well a lot of it was common sense and experience. Because you've done it before, you go into a situation where there are certain people that you have to touch base with. There was a bureaucracy created and an Olympic Committee and they are kind of running the show. That's like the CEO's office. So you know you've got to go to them, you know that you've got to go to the key law enforcement agencies that are going to be responding to this, not just security within the Olympics. A lot of it was going to take place with the periphery and so you had to make sure that you touched base with the city police, the county police, the state police, and the federal police. And again that's kind of common sense. You just know that because that's what the job entails. And you know based on the assessment you can get a sort of sense where you think the problems are going to be so you invite other people that you might need to touch base with. Social service agencies for example, you might touch base with them. So identifying the key leadership, or who the people are that you need to get in touch with, you look first for the position. You find out who the chief of police is and you talk to him. Being here in Atlanta we had some advantage in that we knew some of the players already and so you talk to one and you find out you also need to talk to a couple more and it just kind of grows out. Over a period of several months, and not full time, I was dealing with other cases and everything else. We had a luxury of time because we had a long advance period prior to our involvement. I did the assessment and that gave me an idea of what we were going to do and it kind of created a picture of here's what needs to be done and here's what we plug into this whole process. Then I had to figure out how we were going to do that and how many people it would take and how you organize that and make it run smoothly.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Wow, before we even get to the table, you said that you were called in by the judge to come into the case, what did you do first? Who did you initiate contact with, was it by phone, was it by mail, did you just show up? Take us through step by step.

Answer:
I don't honestly remember how initial point one came about. I'll tell you how it probably came about, but I really don't remember. This is the way that it finally happened. The case was filed in federal court by the NAACP and we became aware of it through the normal courts. We spent a lot of time in Louisville around that time. But anyway we became aware of it, and I think we called and made an appointment with the judge, and met with him and offered our services to mediate no loss. The judge was interested, but he didn't want to deal with this case. So what he basically did is he told the parties that you will go into mediation. I don't think it was worded that way, but that's pretty much what he said. So, the judge referred to the law that would give the case to CRS for mediation and the parties were advised, and so the judge let us know once he had done that. We called the parties and talked to them over the phone and then followed up with a written letter. Saying that judge-so-and-so asked us for your time, and that we would like to meet with you at such and such a date. We signed the letter and we met, with each of the groups individually. So we met with the city officials, the department chief of police there, city council people, etc. Then we met with the legal defense fund people, then we met with the FOP people, then we met with the Black Police Officer Association. And at each one of those meetings we explained to them who we were, and how mediation works.




Julian Klugman


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
I get off the plane and they pick me up at the airport and they take 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.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How do we know who to talk to? We have an idea since every town has a mayor. We don't know any names, so we just call the operator and say, "Hey, give me City Hall and the chief of police." Hispanic minorities in Texas are associated mostly with the Catholic church. But you cannot ask the operator to give you the number for the Catholic church. You have to ask for a specific name. But there's always a First Baptist Church. You can call that preacher and ask him for the name of the Catholic church in that town and where the minorities go to church? I would also ask about African American churches and their pastors, and how I could reach them. Before we show up, we know a lot about the town because the people tell us. Once I arrive, I look around to see who's got the biggest business, who's got the biggest house, are they racially mixed. Usually, I ask for the top three business people and I ask those people who the top politician is. I also ask the mayor who are the top business people, the top educators, the top community organizations, the top law enforcement.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What I'm looking for is consistent names. If four of these people tell me I ought to talk to John Doe, I'll make sure I talk to John Doe. Now once I get to see them, what do I see them for? Essentially, I want to know what they know about the situation. Everybody sees things differently. Your reality is different from another persons reality. There are no real truths to a situation because we all see things differently. That's just the way we are. In essence, I have to find out your perception of what happened. What did you see? What do you think is going on? Also, what is it that you want, how do you want the matter resolved, and what role do you want to play in the resolution?

Question:
In the particular case that we're talking about, are you asking both sides about the situation?

Answer:
Yes. Sometimes getting answers from the Klan might be more difficult, but there are other people that sympathize with them, or speak for them, so I'll talk to them. Later on that year, I became very much involved with them in other communities. I used to then have breakfast or lunch with the Grand Dragon every other week to see what they were doing and they'd ask me what I was doing.




Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So can you talk about your initial meetings during that intervention? Who did you decide to meet with, and how did you decide to meet with whomever you met with?

Answer:
As I said, I started meeting with the plaintiff's side. Initially it was two lawyers who were handling the case for the NAACP. So they were the people I went to talk to. On the other side with the defendants with the school district; they selected the school superintendent, who was a board member and an attorney. That was basically the team, 2 lawyers on one side, and a lawyer and a school superintendent on the other. I made it clear in these initial meetings that I was going to be talking early on with many parties and people in this community about the issue of school desegregation. I would also ask people where to begin to build some information about where the sentiments and the attitudes of the larger public were around the school desegregation issue. We needed to find a way to involve them in the deliberations. There was no reluctance; they were quite willing to have opportunities for representatives from the community to come before this negotiating team and share their opinions about the school system and what they thought were some answers to desegregating the schools.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

My job over there was, again, to explain CRS, and to explain that perhaps by opening the door with the police department and the city manager's office, maybe they could air some of their concerns in a stronger way. Maybe they could put things on the table that the chief and the city manager would better understand, rather than having a large group with everyone talking at once, and nobody really getting a feel for the concerns. So I suggested to them they at least initially get together as a smaller group, because then they could have their open community meeting later. I knew that was going to turn pretty hostile.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So how do you identify the minority leadership?

Answer:
What you want to do in this type of situation, you want to identify leadership. Key players are the same as leadership. You want to make sure you know key minority community leadership. It's not too hard to identify majority community leadership because, heck, you go to the police chief or the mayor. Who else speaks for the city? Sometimes, though, there are movers and shakers that run everything, and of course we won't talk about them right now. Now this person I told you about that everybody said was the "head leader" in town -- that person wasn't "the leader". But the person that ran the town for the Indian community, and called most of the shots, was a little old lady who worked at one of the community action centers. If she knew you and trusted you, then you would get a lot. She had a lot of things going. She even had control over the American Indian Movement, as to whether or not they came into town.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We spent a week there doing an assessment. That’s really where the story begins about the mediation. I told you about the inmate groups. We went to see the superintendent and his top staff. They gave us the run of the place throughout the week the reformatory was in lock up, which is very dangerous because tensions become very high.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
And what were you asking?

Answer:
We were trying to get a fix on the place. We wanted to know why were they still in lock up. The guards were saying tensions were too high, that it was too dangerous to end the lock up. But that was not our perception when we talked to the residents. When we met with the American Indian group, as I said, they were mostly well behaved within the institution. They avoided overtures, they said, from the Black Brotherhood Development and Cultural Organization (BBDCO), to partner with them. They wanted to be left alone.













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by Conflict Management Initiatives and the Conflict Information Consortium at the University of Colorado