When you brought the parties together, how did you decide where to convene the meeting?


Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Our meetings were always at the sheriff's department or at the African American community center, certainly the Native American centers as well. Up in the mountains, they had a community center as well as a medical center, so we could meet there. But Reading was really the best area to be in.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

When they would meet in the African American community center, with a given group, and the sheriff was there, it was their thing. I didn't have to be there, although I was invited. Sometimes I wasn't able to make it. I probably was invited all of the time. The sheriff would go, and they would get rid of him, and then he'd come back.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Incidentally, when we first began to get together with the African Americans and Latinos, we met in a meeting room of a Mexican restaurant. Then at other meetings, we'd meet at some hall in the African American community and then eventually we met in the police department's roll-call room. That's how things evolved. It was really engendered by their relationship with the police at our gatherings once a month.... maybe it was every two months.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

When you were able to bring the parties together, how did you decide where to convene the meetings? How important was choosing the right place?

Answer:
You're asking someone that believes very highly that the place of negotiations has to be conducive for negotiations first. I will go out of my way to seek funding, sometimes including our own, for a hotel room, a hotel conference room, as an example. It has to be comfortable in terms of lighting and seating. Certainly heating and/or air conditioning and drinks, and a meal ought to be served to set the stage for negotiations. Sometimes, with the type of work and in the communities that we work in this is not possible. You're talking to someone who will give anything for a good setting in order to get the negotiations going. I think it's very important. We at CRS of course look for a lot of so-called neutral places. We found a hotel that has a conference room in it to be neutral, and particularly today community centers have those types of facilities. We also found at least through 1995, that the community groups do not hesitate to go to a corporate or school setting that has a nice conference room like this.

Question:
Were the larger corporations ever willing to meet on the community turf? Let's say for instance, the community agency had a nice conference room and all of those different dynamics that you just mentioned, was the majority group willing to meet on their turf?

Answer:
Well, let's go back to my first example. As an example, the media people had all kinds of conference rooms and even the ability to serve a light lunch, or certainly coffee and donuts. But we wound up meeting at the Auraria Community Center, a large community center because the community group insisted on it at that time. And that has changed dramatically. The minority leaders now feel more comfortable going anywhere at any time and it is CRS who looks for the neutrality and whether the parties are ready to meet them in certain places.

Question:
So I gather you didn't often go to, if it was a police case, police headquarters, or a school case, school headquarters. You tried to find a neutral place.

Answer:
Particularly police stations. We stayed away from police stations. Just the very nature of police stations in the smaller community, the jail is usually in the same building, and so we generally stayed out of them. School settings normally have some type of conference room or classroom. But we generally used community centers and churches also.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Anyway, I made recommendations that we meet at a neutral site, away from the island itself, and away from the reservation itself. I asked the sheriff if we could use the sheriff's conference room in the city. I explored that possibility with him, but there would be no question about whether we could access it or not, he was very cooperative. He was very anxious to get this issue settled because he didn't know how to handle it himself. He didn't know what the law was, and if we could work things out so that he's not being called with expectations it would be all for the better. In fact, his legal counsel was even made available to me.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

It was agreed that at noon on a certain date, the American Indian Movement leaders would set up a teepee in the demilitarized zone, in that no man’s land near the federal road block, and that the feds would come in and we would begin to have negotiations in this big teepee. It was very ceremonial and very public. The press wouldn’t be in there, but they’d be outside. Indian time was typically late. The AIM leaders would be up late at night. They would have a spiritual ceremony. They would be late starting the next day’s activities by any clock that was set outside their own needs.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

And I remember at the table, one of the things I did on that particular case, knowing that both Koreans and African Americans value religion and have very strong Christian ethic in both communities. I naturally picked a neutral church in the community to be the place for our mediation. It really took the thunder out of a great deal of the animosity.





Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Now we had 300 people right in the middle of city hall, blocking the whole main floor, demanding to see the mayor. I told the sergeant, they're coming in. And he says, "Wait, wait, hold them off." I go, "I can't. They've asked for this meeting." So now they are panicking, and willing to do more all of a sudden. The message came out from the mayor's office that he would meet with a delegation. "Figure out who they want, how many people. He will meet with you this afternoon, but you have to clear out." So we convey the message and we negotiate all this. I don't think they trusted the mayor. I think we stayed there. The mayor said, "Okay, let's move the meeting up, get your people." So now we're helping them. "So, who are you going to get? You only get so many people." " No, no, we want more people." And it was all right there on the floor of City Hall, all this chaos.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There were law enforcement people that I worked with that were tremendously helpful, because they invited everybody that was involved with me to meet at their department, which is really an ideal place because they had all the equipment to help us do this stuff.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So how did you get this group together in the Vietnamese's place?

Answer:
I asked the mayor five or six times throughout the weeks and he just wouldn't do it, finally he says, "Let's do it." We went to his house and he called all these people and I said, "Give me the fifteen people that run this town." So he had fifteen or twenty people and we discussed what they thought of this.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I remember the Chicago office of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, wanted to hold a meeting down there, so we worked with them. It was a request they made in conjunction with local black leaders and I couldn’t say no. So we scheduled a meeting, and the governor’s office sent some people in. City officials, the county officials, the sheriff’s office all refused to show up. They knew we were sitting around a table. And there I am, and there’s the Civil Rights Commission, which also has no enforcement power. The governor’s people flew in on a private plane. But the other chairs were empty because they just wouldn’t come. So no, they didn’t want us.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did the venue of the meeting ever matter? Were you careful with the choice of location?

Answer:
We took it into consideration, but it often didn’t matter. Sometimes it was the most comfortable place. I never knew that to be a serious factor. The Illinois voting rights case we met in the courtroom because that was the most convenient, but once they were in Chicago we met up in our office. Obviously in Skokie you couldn’t do certain things in that formal setting. With St. Cloud you met in the prison. Prisoners are prisoners. You can’t get away from that.






Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Were members of both key parties always willing to meet with you when you designated a time and place?

Answer:
We would work out a time and place mutually. They were busy folks, working folks, so we had to work around their schedules and mine.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Does the location of the meeting ever matter? Is that an issue?

Answer:
Sure. I ask them where they are comfortable. The meetings we're having in Houston, we met at the police station the first time, but then the community said let's meet at a Hispanic center, so we met there. The next time we met at a black community center. Then we met at a Hispanic church, then at a mixed place, a bank building. In another town, the community says bring them here, they've never been to our side of town. I just ask, would the parties be comfortable meeting there? They usually say yes. It was the first time the police went over to that side of town without going out to arrest somebody or stake out the place. I used other resources in that case, officers from Houston that I know work with the community quite well. In fact, I asked the community services division to help that police department learn how to deal with communities, especially the black community. So I took the Houston officers to meet with the community first and they got acquainted with the community and had a meeting with the police officials. We can only do that if the police officials and the community agree to them coming in. Because we're not going to impose it on them. So we had these pre-meetings and they saw the benefit of having them in. So then we brought them all together. One of the police officers from Houston had been a gang member. He'd really reformed, so he was sharing his past experiences with that side of the law.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The plan was that the next day there would be negotiations in a teepee that would be set up at noon in the DMZ, and the feds were not to come until that teepee was set up. They would come down to the road block and then walk over to the teepee. So I made arrangements with Kent Frizzell that I would radio him, when the teepee was set up and we were ready to start. It was scheduled for noon, but everybody knew that Indian time meant it would be later, that was a given.






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