Were parties ever reluctant to participate because of a lack of trust in you or the process?


Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Was your impartiality ever questioned?

Answer:
I assume so. I assume when I came in, I was the guy there who cared about race relations and human rights, so what do I know about the real world. And I'm sure the residents questioned it much of the time. Not because of what I did, but because I was from the outside and the superintendent had the key. If absolute trust was required, I never would've gotten near the place. It's just that what did they have to lose? The African American inmates, whose support I gained, began to trust me and the process because people they trusted, their lifeline to the outside, advised them that it was safe to do so.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I met with a former African American Vietnam Veteran, and he looked at me like, "What are you doing here." So I explained that I was with CRS and I'm a federal mediator, and I've read about the dispute you have here, and understand there are several complaints with regards to this Korean swap meet. Really, my role is to try and bring you and the owner of the swap meet together and see if we can come to some resolution other than violence. Then I started talking about where I grew up, what things I had experienced when I was young, and I said, If you have any discomfort with me as an Asian American, that's no problem, we can always get you another mediator. He says, "No, you're okay with me."





Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There were times when they clearly wanted to caucus strictly on their own, and more often than not they did not want us in there. I am not sure that they were quite clear yet whether or not they could trust us.

Question:
They thought you were spying?

Answer:
Yes. Or we were civil rights advocates. Even though we were a biracial team, I think their initial inclination was to be suspicious.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.






Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

One team was represented by the black officers and their attorneys, and the other team was represented by white officers and their attorneys. We were right here in this room and that conference room over there. Things were so hot in the mediation and so volatile, that I decided to call a caucus right there. That's one of the techniques, caucus. I brought the black police officers here, and whites in the conference room. I assigned two staff members to the conference room and I took the black officers, because that's where the interest comes from and they were threatening to walk out. I walked up to the door and blocked the door. If anybody goes out of this room, he'll have to go over me. I know you're police officers and you really can go over me, but I don't think you want to do that. And that's what you're going to have to do. Nobody's going out of this room until we have at least agreed that you should go out. He said, "I've never seen a more determined person than you were. You stopped smiling, and that's the capacity that you have, you smile a lot. But boy, you stopped smiling so fast it got me sweating." Nobody's going out of this door unless they go over me.

Question:
So you gave them an opportunity for them to vent in a caucus or in the actual mediation?

Answer:
I wanted to clear up some issues in here before I went back in there. I wanted the opportunity to convince them that they were saying things that I would clear and that I personally would assure them. Now you're getting away from the processes and talking about 'I'. I said, "I don't think there's a man in this room that does not know that Ozell does not sell the interests of black folk short." I would not sell them short, and their interests short.

Question:
This is in caucus?

Answer:
This is in caucus. Now the only thing I'm talking about here is I will pursue those interests. In other words, your cause.

Question:
Did you feel that it was necessary to say that explicitly?

Answer:
It felt especially necessary to say that explicitly. To let them know that I knew. I even did something that a mediator does not do very often. I went back into my own personal credentials, personal identification and personal credentials, been there. So not only am I not going to sell you short, I'm not going to let that happen in mediation. That way I got them back in the room.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you find yourself wanting to do anything to strengthen the parties' capacities to deal with the conflict, or did they pretty much do that themselves?

Answer:
They really did that themselves. The great fortune here is that this had time to run it's course. It didn't happen in two visits. It just took a life of it's own. That administration was very poorly run and bright inmates helped the administration figure it out. So there really was very little need. The one time I felt intervention was needed was with the Hispanic inmates. They were just waiting and waiting for their kiln and their room, and they started with six of them and two of them went home. In the preliminaries, Martinez met with them to bolster them and encourage them. With the Indians too, who could relate to them? You really need a person of color in that setting to maximize your credibility, or to get as close as you can to build something.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Probably the only real resistence was from the President from the administration, through the President. After that hurdle is crossed and of course the President buys into it, then you pretty much have carte blanc with the institution, like the faculty. The faculty needed to be sold a little bit, because they were concerned about things like, was this process going to give the students too much power? Was it going to reflect negatively on the faculty? So there was some kind of territorialism there, in that sense.





Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The Hispanic lawyer showed up and he didn't want to work with us, he didn't want us involved. I sat down with him, said, "Look, you don't like the present administration, and there's some things I don't like about the administration myself. The political winds in Washington change every four years. It goes in one direction, then another, and yet the people are still here. You're still here and I'm still here, so why don't you and I work together to help these people here the best that we can help them in this current situation? Let the administration do whatever, I know you have strong feelings about that, but let's think about these people here. Let's see how you can help them and I can help them and maybe we can help them even more if we both work together." So we did that and they and the D.A. finally worked a deal where they got a new prosecutor.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But then you had other groups out of Seattle and out of the Dakotas coming in and they were pretty sharp too. And they were the ones that had the least trust. And that's exactly the way they acted too. They felt like educated people who were suspicious of everybody, didn't trust anybody. And you couldn't blame them.

Question:
Are you implying that that population is more difficult to convince that things would be confidential?

Answer:
Of course.







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