Did the parties ever refuse to meet together? How did you handle it?


Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There was one point when BBDCO complained that they were being harassed, people were being put in lock up. They refused to come to the table for a while.

Question:
And did you proceed without them?

Answer:
We did on some issues, with their concurrence. I suggested they send an observer in the room to sit and watch without participating. I donít remember if they did, but I would not have proceeded without consent. There was also one incident when a white inmate got so ticked off that he verbally abused one of the guards. "You donít know what itís like, you s.o.b.Ē The officers all walked out and we had to wait a half-hour until they came back.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Thatís the way we would operate when there was high tension or a crisis. What he did there, incidentally, was to get the parties talking. He got the president to meet with the parents.

Question:
Why did he refuse?

Answer:
He would not meet with them because they hadnít made an appointment. It was one of those things where "If you want to meet, just make an appointment, but donít just show up.Ē Or "We have this under control, there is no need for a meeting.Ē The main job of CRS was to get him to meet with them. Not to carry the message of what was happening, but to get the president to sit down with the parents, hear them out and give them a response. That was the appropriate role for us. When the president told us he was too busy to meet, C.J. said, "I only need five minutes of your time,Ē and that five minutes was spent convincing him and trying to help him understand the necessity of meeting with the parents.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever slow parties down who did want to meet? Did you ever decide that they were not ready yet and you didnít want to bring them together yet?

Answer:
I donít think so. Iím thinking of the Skokie-Nazi conflict where parties would not meet. They would not meet; they would not acknowledge each other. It was so bad that the ACLU could not get a response to a request from the village of Skokie for a parade permit for their client the neo-Nazis. And we had to serve as the intermediary and go to Skokie because the city officials were told not to communicate with the neo-Nazis in any way. So we all of a sudden became this intermediary and the only ones who were talking to all the parties. They would not meet and we knew that. We would never ask them to meet.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What do you do if you can't do that?

Answer:
Then I shuttle. It isn't really a good process because I don't have the goodies that Kissinger had. Kissinger didn't really do mediation, he just went over there and said, "I'll give you this if you agree." But it is more difficult. The easiest thing to do is to get two people together. You can read them better that way. But if somebody says, "I want you to go tell these people this," it's really hard to trust their intentions. Especially when the city, or so- called group A, is talking to group B through you and you really don't know what the response is going to be over there. Or how it is that they intend to talk to these folks. They can offer them the moon and these folks are going to say, "That ain't right. It ain't going to happen." And when you go back and tell them that they don't want it, they say, "Well, we tried everything, and they wouldn't go for it." And that's sort of an oversimplification of things, but I really prefer to sit down and talk to both parties.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What do you do if the people that you identified as key parties don't want to meet with you?

Answer:
Oh, quite often they did.

Question:
Then what did you do?

Answer:
If we were in Atlanta, I would say, "You know, perhaps if we would go to them and sit down over lunch...." Get them out of town. Change the locality and you'd be surprised what that does. They couldn't afford to be seen with you one-on-one, because they think it would look bad. You say, "You know, Mr. Hill, you're protected by a confidentiality clause. That means I cannot repeat or reveal anything that's said without your permission. So therefore, anything that you say to me is confidential." That has had a powerful effect upon meeting with people.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I'll meet with them and say, "You know, never's a long time but can you imagine what's going to happen if you refuse to meet and what could result if you do meet? How much is doing nothing going to benefit those little boys and girls out here in the street today?" He said, "You know, you don't plant a tree today to enjoy the shade. You plant a tree where someone else will enjoy the shade. You are going to have to understand that. I said, "Can you really afford to be that selfish or that concerned about something that you didn't have any control over?" I said, "I'm not defending that person, you may be absolutely right. But I'm going to be here with you as long as that person is going to do what we all agreed to do. I'm not going to leave you."



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

A lot of times, the police say, "I'm not gonna meet those people. They came to my office last week and the leaders were screaming and hollering, calling me racist and a pig and I'm not gonna stand for that." I would say, "Why don't I go back to that community group, propose to them they come meet you with a list of what they want. They want answers, but I'll have them prepare their questions beforehand. So before the meeting, you'll have all their questions and maybe something that they want you to do. You can analyze that and see how you feel, but I'm going to run the meeting. Before the meeting starts, everybody is going to agree to some ground rules. No screaming, no hollering, no insults, no nothing, I'm going to introduce the topic, I'm going to run the meeting, I'm going to manage the process. With those assurances, they're more willing to meet.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you ever have an experience where two parties couldn't meet with the other parties?

Answer:
Yes. The only time it happened was in another town in Texas near Houston. There was a lot of activity over the freeing of an African American that had a death sentence for committing a crime. The black protestors and organizers out of Houston had been doing a lot of activity in support of freeing him. I'd been in this other town and I was coming back and the leader of the black organizers asked me to go with them Saturday, because they were going to have a rally and a demonstration. They were concerned about what they had heard about the Klan retaliating, and what the police might do to them. I picked up the message on my answering machine as I was coming into the office. Later, the police chief called saying, "These people are coming from Houston, there's going to be a big rally, can you help us out?" I never told them that they had each called me. I went out there. I needed to see where the march was going to be and how long they were going to stay. The blacks were meeting in an old college that used to be there during segregation days, but it wasn't a college anymore. The chief wouldn't go over there, and the leader of the black protestors would not go to the police station. They were not going to demean themselves by going over to the other's territory. First, I got the march plan, they're going to City Hall, and the start and end times. So I took all that to the police, here's what they're going to do. Well, they were running a city election the day of the march and City Hall is the polling place. So they can go to City Hall but could not obstruct access to City Hall because people have to vote. If they do, the police were going to arrest them. I went back and let them know that it's okay, except when you're at City Hall there's going to be voting and you cannot obstruct it or they're going to arrest you, so make sure everybody knows the ground rules. There was one glitch once he started the march and they were at City Hall. Somebody was putting heat on the chief to just go arrest them. So I told the chief, give me some time and I'll go talk to them. So I went to the leader who was making a speech right in front of City Hall and these people were really blocking the entrance. I said, "Look, we had an understanding that you couldn't block the entrance and some of those folks are." He may not have seen them because he was talking. He said he just needed two minutes. Then he cautioned them to stay away from the door, and then he continued. But I went back to the police and said, "Two minutes he's going to talk. He's going to tell them not to block the door." And he did. The protest ended with no arrests.

Question:
Those parties never convened at the same location?

Answer:
No, in fact the chief was right there, they were both at City Hall, but the chief never did go talk to the guy, he did it through me. If you're going to take an action let us know first before you do it. Because when there's an action, both sides are likely to get hurt. So it behooves them at some point to communicate, if not through each other than through us. Nobody wants to get hurt, I don't want to get hurt.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In a city that had police problems with a black community, I talked to the chief and asked if he would be willing to meet with them. We discussed the issues he was concerned about and what was happening. Would he want to meet with them at some point? He said, "No way, they came to my office last week screaming and hollering, and would not let me talk."

Question:
You talked about that.

Answer:
Then I said, "Well look, would you attend if I ran the meeting? If they understand there's not going to be any screaming or shouting, no name calling?" and under those terms he was willing to meet. Plus, I told him before the meeting I would bring to him in writing what they're concerned about, and if possible, what they think should be done about it. Both issues and proposed remedies, and he would have a list of whoever's coming, and that provides a certain sense of security and safety to the official that could be productive.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There was some grumbling from some of the militant Indian individuals, but for the most part, that was overcome by somebody in the group saying, "Look, we have nothing to lose and we've been trying to address these things for a long time.






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