How did you assist in opening communications between the parties, to get them talking and listening to one another?


Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
By telling them that I'm the one that's asking them to do this. I said, "It may not work. If it does work, it's going to be to your advantage. If it doesn't work, blame it on me because I'm the one asking you and I'm going to be right here with you." "Now, the one thing I will say is that I'm going to chair. It's going to be my meeting and I'm going to be in control. When I feel as though it's getting too complicated, we're going to adjourn the meeting and go home. But I want you all to know this is my meeting and everybody's going to have the opportunity to talk. I don't want any side remarks. I don't want any profanity. I don't want any reference made to a person's color or anything else. This is my meeting. I will adjourn it unless you come prepared to hear what people are going to say, no matter how they say it." I keep emphasizing that because they always talk about ignorant and uneducated people. "It's going to be my meeting and we're going to sit and listen."

Question:
You hear this from both sides?

Answer:
Both sides.

Question:
How do you decide when to stop dealing with them separately and bring them both to the table?

Answer:
It varies. Sometimes you have to do it in the heat of the conflict and have them realize that unless an agreement is reached today, there's going to be serious consequence and everybody's going to suffer. Then again, it takes time to build and you gotta spend days going back and forth from one group to the other. It's usually hot, you're tired, but you say, "I can't give up now. I have to go, I have to keep on going." Then when you start seeing little cracks and people saying, "Well, let me call so-and-so. Call me in a day." I'd say, "I don't have a day or two. Can't you call them now?"




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So now we come to the table. We start talking about some of the creature comfort issues. One of the first issues, for example, was censorship of the newspaper. They had a very credible newspaper. Censorship actually violated the state law. So at the first session, the deputy, the assistant commissioner, and the assistant superintendent agreed this was something we could work out. Censorship of mail was an issue. The administration agreed, "We don’t have to open all incoming mail. We don’t have to read every outgoing letter.” Delivery of books and magazines brought by visitors; it would sometimes take 48 hours to get the package to the residents. "We can do better,” the administrators agreed. We were making progress. Even though these were relatively minor issues, they began to build credibility into the process. These were agenda items from the white residents, but that was okay. The inmates of color were at first untrusting of the process and were laying back, waiting to see what was going to happen. The Indians were sitting there saying, "Our only issue is that we want a reservation in the prison.” That was the last agenda item because I knew where that was headed. With each issue, the inmates were articulating their case and doing it well. Then they got to the problem of hair in the food. This was a wonderful story. This was at a time when a lot of guys were wearing long hair and that included servers on the food line. The resident negotiators were complaining bitterly and the corrections officers and administrators were sitting there contributing little. One of them says, "Yeah, we noticed the problem but we don’t know what to do about it.” An inmate leader reached into his pocket, took out a hairnet, and dropped it on the table. "Would you wear that?” a corrections officer asked. The inmate reached over, picked up the hair net, removed the cellophane wrapper and placed on his head. . Nothing else was said. He wore the hair net all morning. The matter was resolved. Canteen items was an issue. What can be sold in the canteen? And then how is the money spent? Money from the canteen went to a social fund. Some of the profits from the canteen went back to the inmates, and they didn’t trust how it was being used. We were fortunate because the husband of the head of the St. Cloud’s Human Relations Commission managed canteens for the VA hospital. So he came in as a consultant and would review the operations and confirm that everything was on the up and up. What could be sold in the canteen? Hispanic residents wanted salsa. "Well, we can’t allow salsa in the canteen because that’s a weapon,” an officer said. "You can throw that in somebody’s eyes and blind them." "Well, you let us carry our Zippo lighters and you let us buy lighter fluid,” was the response, "and you give us these cans of varnish spray for the arts and crafts shop. You think that’s not a weapon?" "Ok you can have salsa and other foods." Playboy magazine was an issue in the canteen. The rugs in the cells. The doors wouldn’t close properly if the rugs weren’t set back properly, so they had removed all floor coverings and that created a fuss. They resolved that issue, but it was not included in the written agreement; nobody wanted the public knowing that they were negotiating over rugs for the cells. As we solved each issue, I’d write it up, bring it back the next time for everyone to approve.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

That’s 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 hadn’t made an appointment. It was one of those things where "If you want to meet, just make an appointment, but don’t just show up.” Or "We have this under control, there is no need for a meeting.” 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,” and that five minutes was spent convincing him and trying to help him understand the necessity of meeting with the parents.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Well, once again going back to the University, tell me about the dynamics at the table?

Answer:
I was the facilitator. They each had an opportunity to express their opinions about what we needed to be dealing with, as far as bringing the issues out to the table, and then validating that with everybody, because we couldn't deal with everything. Prioritizing those issues and building a consensus around the table about what issues we were going to deal with, so from the very beginning I was teaching them what I do. The next time an issue came up, they had been through the process and I had basically facilitated, but coached and modeled that behavior as we went along. The main thing is keeping the environment safe for everybody, so that nobody was diminished and that was always one of my ground rules. They were obviously able to create other ground rules that they felt like were important once we validated the issues and began hammering out responses to it. In terms of faculty, one of the responses was that the research division was going to do a statistical analysis of grading practices and that was going to become a matter of record. There was an ongoing task force that established its membership. They identified how the members would be selected each time, and how complaints would be channeled into that. For example one of the biggest concerns the students had was, "I'm the only minority student in that classroom, how can I possibly file a complaint that my teacher has control of my grades?" So they built in some safeguards for them. The same thing went for any kind of complaint in housing. Building in safeguards, we developed a brochure about race relations and anti-discrimination policy and procedure on campus. The fraternal system was looked at and the whole process for evaluating their documents that they have to have on campus, organizing documents or whatever they have. A process was put into place to review and look at that for complaints and charters. There were some specific steps for the student government to bring in minorities into representation under the student government. More multi-ethnic activities were generated out of that.

Question:
Was that all done by the group working as a whole, or did you break into test groups?

Answer:
No, we did it together and the group stayed together. We had about 20 people, and almost always, everybody was involved.

Question:
How often did you meet?

Answer:
I want to say once a month, once we got going. I was up there probably once a week at the beginning and then once every couple of weeks as we began to settle in. Then just based on scheduling and everything, about once a month, we had a set meeting, like the 4th Tuesday of every month.

Question:
How long did this last?

Answer:
I was up there over a year. In and out.






Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So how do you bring that up to the superintendent when you go into his or her office? How do you say, "These guys have a problem with some of your policies? "

Answer:
Well, I start by saying, "I'm from the Federal Government and I'm here to help you." Then he, of course, tells me that he is being strictly fair, non-racist, equal-opportunity, that he treats everybody fairly and so on. I never argue with him, but I do try to get across to him that as long as there is a perception in the community that he is not being fair and that some of the policies are not fair, then he is going to continue to have a conflict with the community. I ask, "Wouldn't it be in your best interests if you could develop a more cooperative relationship with the community?" And it is interesting. Very often the representative from the institution, in this case the superintendent, is just afraid of not being able to communicate with that group. "Those radicals, you can't talk to them, they have made up their minds, they don't want to listen to reason." So if I can provide him a setting where there can be communication, where I promise that they will listen to him, just as he will listen to them, and I promise that I will keep it under control and it will not get out of hand, he'll [probably accept that]. Sometimes I am surprised at how valuable of a process or how valuable of an opportunity that sort of situation can be for someone like a superintendent.

Question:
Do they recognize that ahead of time?

Answer:
Yes. It takes some persuasion, but most people want to do the right thing. Sometimes it is hard to convince the community people of that, but I have frequently found that the administrators or chiefs feel sorry for themselves. They feel totally misunderstood. You know, "Poor me, nobody understands me. Those people clobber me in the media and so does everybody else. I'm not really getting a fair deal here." So I have found that just spending time listening and understanding what some of their problems are goes a long way towards developing some credibility with the institutional representative. Eventually, they begin to think, "You know, maybe this woman really can help me." So then they are willing to give it that chance. I am thinking of one case that involved a small, rural community. I spent a long time there talking with and mostly listening to the sheriff. I think that he was really surprised that a government official wasn't there to clobber him. He was really surprised that I understood him. I said, "You know, one of the things that I have learned in this work is that law enforcement personnel in some of these small rural communities face challenges that New York and Los Angeles and Denver never even think about. It's hard doing law enforcement here." He was astounded that I understood that. "Hey, here is somebody who understands what I'm up against!" One of their biggest frustrations is that they are not New York or Denver or Los Angeles, so what works in the big cities might not work for them, but most people don't understand that. I don't need to agree with him or what he is doing, but if I just have a sympathetic ear and recognize that I need to understand his perspective as well as the minority community's perspective then that's a big step in the right direction. The importance of really listening is sometimes underrated. Maybe I mentioned this before, but in one really major conflict I was involved in, I really wasn't sure how much of a difference I had made in the overall scheme of things. But one of the things I was told near the end of that case was, " Silke, you at least listened." Generally, people don't do that. I have heard that many times since. Even in cases where there really wasn't a whole lot I could do and it was hard to say where mediation might be useful, if a community actually felt listened-to and not just ignored, swept aside or totally disregarded, that has made a huge difference! That is part of what I try to get across to each of the parties. If, in fact, it might go toward mediation or some similar method of resolving some of those local tensions, I ask both sides to just listen to what the other is saying. "I am not asking you to agree, or cave in, but just hear what they are saying and what their concerns are. You might even have some solution for them that they didn't even think of. But first, just listen." It's amazing how important that is to people in conflict. Part of what intensifies the conflict and violence potential in many cases is that people think that they are not being heard. The reason they are shouting is because they think if they shout, someone will finally hear them. Of course, it doesn't work that way. But I think part of the reason for the volume is that they haven't felt listened-to, so they think, "Maybe if I get louder, they will actually hear me."




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Oh yeah. I pulled all those ideas together. Actually, when we got to the table, I sat at the head of the table and I framed the mediation process right then and there, and opened the door to the key spokesman of the Koreans to start them off. Then the mayor responded.

Question:
The mayor was comfortable with you at the head of table?

Answer:
Yeah, he didn't want to be there at all, but he didn't want to be in the middle of it either. He wanted somebody else to be at the head of it. So I could see the politics that he was playing. What amazed me at the table was that the Koreans, I thought, didn't raise all the issues. I had to remind them of some of the other issues. I had to say, "Aren't you going to talk about this issue?" I knew they weren't going to have that many opportunities.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The Koreans has such strong accents, I couldn't understand them. The African Americans couldn't understand them. We had one African American who worked in the swap meet who was our translator. It was just amazing.





Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you assist in opening up communications between the parties initially, to get them talking and get them listening to one another?

Answer:
CRS uses a lot of the shuttle diplomacy, meeting with one group and then going to the other side and beginning to share what we feel we ought to share with them. So they begin to feel comfortable that we are helping them in their best interests.

Question:
How did you determine what could be shared and what couldn't be shared?

Answer:
Generally it was the issues at hand. Most of the time on the majority they would say that they were not prepared to share certain things. They were prepared to hire someone from the minority community but that the personnel committee needed to finalize, as an example, that indeed the budget was going to have more money for a bilingual program and would have more teachers, but we couldn't share that with them.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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. Once you get them together, that jump-starts the process. They'll suggest to you what steps you need to take. And then, we all start moving as one in that direction. Not the Justice Department, not Bob Ensley, but all of us. And we begin to pick up people along the way, you know, who are supportive. But keeping in mind that you only go as far as a community's going to permit you to go.



Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The most difficult thing is having people sit down and talk and communicate. The one thing that the whites have always had, is the presence of the police department or law enforcement. In different ways, they've used that in order to deter, threaten, intimidate, or coerce other people who come in with different lifestyles or different cultures. It's pretty much that way in several of the areas where I helped work. But you need to try to get people to sit down and just listen, no matter how much they protest against it. Whatever objections they raise, beg them, "Please just come on. Just sit down."

Question:
How did you, in either that situation or a recent one, get people to the table when there's so much hostility?

Answer:
You have to become the target. Let them blame you, let them blame Bob Ensley. I let myself be the target.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
When you have issues that are so large like racism or class economic issues, how do you incorporate that into the mediation or the resolution of the conflict?

Answer:
Well, the first thing, as you know, is that you've got to get people sitting down and talking. Getting them to the table is one of the most difficult things and it requires some skill. You develop skills by practice, and participation, and involvement in similar situations. You have to get them to realize it's all for the common good. You also have to be sure they have time to devote to the problem. This is awfully agonizing many times and so frustrating. A good deal of inner strength and inner faith is required to continue to work through the processes when they're telling you it's not going to work, that they're not going to change their position, that you're just going to muddy the water, and create some additional problems by getting involved. Don't let them deter you. You've just got to keep on begging them and insisting they've got to meet and sit down and talk. And it's the only way. You can't force them to do it, but you've got to have them realize that it's not going to go away.

Question:
"Them" means who?

Answer:
The groups that are involved, particularly the white power structure. I know the black people that have been coached and instructed to say certain things to me, to make me think things aren't that bad. But it's far greater and much more serious. They don't know that I've already done my homework in many areas and know a lot more about them and how they were elected and how they've been voting on issues and certain things.




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You didn't make any assessment of what the most important issues were, and which was next?

Answer:
No. I would set the agenda for the negotiations themselves. That's not the first meeting though. The first meeting in the sheriff's office conference room was where they would meet each other face to face for the first time. There was about a dozen people there. The CRS guidelines for mediation would've been explained in detail when I made the recommendation for mediation. I urged them to discuss things, and I gave them a list of about a dozen to fifteen points. These were really my version of CRS mediation guidelines or conditions. I would answer any questions they might have on that. It would've been the time prior to that first meeting when I would've pointed out to the home owners, "There needs to be some kind of entity that the tribe can deal with, who do you want to be? Can we identify you as a particular group?" As I recall, the minister was chosen. They chose their own people, although I had probably been responsible for identifying those who were interested and urging. I frankly do not recall offhand if I met with them separately, prior to the first meeting. I would have met with two or three of them to explain the guidelines. But at any rate, by the time they got to the sheriff's office, they would've known what the guidelines were, and then in that first session, I would've explained what can be expected. One, we'd go over the procedures and the guidelines. I would repeat what I had said before, and hopefully I'm still consistent. I would answer questions they have. Now they know that the others know that they don't talk to the press. I ask them "Do you agree to these terms?" The others hear them say "yes" and vice versa. That's sort of the basic, the bedrock for the mediation has been laid at that point. No discussion of issues, background, or anything like that.

Question:
Are the parties able to give input as to how you're going to run the mediation session, or are you telling them?

Answer:
Not much room for that. If I am to be the mediator here, I am bound by my agency to conduct mediation along these lines. In that case I don't think I would get a challenge to that. Of course there are introductions. People were meeting each other for the first time in many cases. Usually, they're sitting on opposite sides of the tables. In those days, Henry Kissinger was running around working out the shape of the table and all that. I never bothered about any of that.

Question:
What did you do to open up the line of communication?

Answer:
They ask questions, and they get the answers. The second session was where we would begin the process of problem identification. And at this point, no discussion shall be conducted about answers or solutions to any of these. That's something else that will happen later. What we want now is a free and frank exchange of ideas from both sides. Then I would invite, "Would you like to start off and list your issues?" They've given them to me individually. They would list the issues, one by one. A certain amount of clarification would begin to be taking place, understanding of not only what, but why they're upset. The tribal leadership had never heard of these tribal fishermen defecating in somebody's front yard in front of children, this was outrageous, and that sort of thing. A certain amount of clarification and explanation began to take place.

Question:
Were all of those things considered factual information, or were any of those issues ever challenged?

Answer:
Oh yes. But I would've stated in the beginning that these are perceptions by the people on this side of the table and it's important for you to not only know what happened, but to hear these perceptions and try to understand them.

Question:
Heidi asked you a little while ago about helping the groups prioritize. During this initial meeting, or the second meeting where parties are expressing themselves, do you allow them to express themselves in the language and the tone that they choose, or do you try to coach them to express themselves in a certain way?

Answer:
You've asked several questions. One, the main thing we need to get is a free and frank exchange of ideas. This can be brutal at times. I've had a mayor walk out of a meeting and I had to chase him and say, "This is what we've got to have, get all the problems out here on the table now. Whatever way it takes. We should be understanding, and it may hurt, but it's much more important that we be frank and talk about it, rather than lay only part of the issues out and still have other issues, concerns, or problems. This is our chance to deal with them." There would be some opportunity for going into the background of these issues, too. For example, the disenfranchisement of Indians and violation of treaties, there was at least some allusion to that. It's important to Native Americans that this be in the background of the record, even though it may not be dealt with in detail. In any case, if there's time that day for the other side to give it's listing of issues and concerns, and what and why, then we would go into that. If at the first session problem identification was not completed by one of the parties, then we would pick it up at the next session. All of one side identified it's problems in their entirety, and then the other one would have it's opportunity to give it's side. And to a certain extent, of course, answers to questions or perceptions would be given.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You said earlier that the relationship between El Comite and the chief were so good that you didn't need to bring them together for communications. Before this incident, how was communication between the Chicano community and the police?

Answer:
To my knowledge there was no communication.

Question:
So this incident and your involvement really created that communication?

Answer:
Yes, to my knowledge there was no communication. The reason the chief knew who we should get a hold of, because we contacted the chief first and met with him, is because a few people had already contacted him about the incident.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So once you established who this key person was, to get them to the table, what did you say? How would you open up a dialogue?

Answer:
It's not a question of opening up anything. What happens is that you've established a relationship. That's what you're working on. You're not working on what to say initially and open up some kind of format. What you want to do is establish relationships with people. And then they kind of feel that, "Hey, this guy's saying something worthwhile. Maybe I'll listen." And when you do get them at the table, they know why they're there. Basically, they know who they are and what they're about. So it's a matter of just talking about the issue. David or Julie or whoever the people are, the names of the people, you call them by their first name. Or if they desired to be called by any formal name, you do so. You start out by saying something like: "Recently we've had quite a bit of conflict about funds that are supposed to go to the Title X program," and then you go on, in an introduction, to the point where they know what's going on and they discuss part of the issue. What you want to do at that first meeting, is see if they're amenable to having others come in and join in another conversation in the future. And "the future" could be tomorrow night. If you're going to the table, you need to decide who's going to be there. You want to let them identify the spokespeople who they're comfortable with having at the table themselves. You do not play a role in that. You don't play a role in saying, "I'm going to have Mary Smith at the table, or Jack and Jill." You let the spokesperson figure out how many people are going to be there. They get out their pad and pencil and they start writing down the names. "Well, Julie, she's pretty good about this and she did write the first grant and so on." Okay. Then you go over to the other, and do the same over there. "Well, I think Dr. Patterson will be good, because you know Dr. Patterson's worked with those people."




Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you diminish tension between very hostile parties?

Answer:
I don’t know. I guess there were a number of different techniques. One way would be to actually bring people into a forum where they could hear what the other person was saying, absent of the kind of rhetorical flourishes that would often-times take place in the other forum. So, in one situation in that midwestern city I mentioned earlier, the local militant, who was given to walking into the City Council chambers and completely disrupting the City Council meeting, but had to be escorted or carried out by the police – that, and activities like that, defined who he was in the minds of the white establishment, which created a certain amount of tension. So what we were offering was a different forum for him to be heard. The response was, "He’s going to act up.” "Well, you’ve got to trust us that he’s not going to take that particular stance.” And then that’s your job, as the intervener, to assure that that doesn’t happen, to a certain extent. So, often-times you’d hear things: "You never told me that before.” "You never gave me the chance to talk to you like that.” When you start hearing that dialogue, you can start pulling out. I mean, you can start literally pulling yourself out of the triad. They’re talking to each other; they’re now talking from the heart about what they didn’t say to each other, over all of these years that they could have been talking. "I didn’t know you felt this way.” "Well, you weren’t listening.” So, that’s one way. CBMs are another way – Confidence-Building Measures. It’s another way of doing it: "So, demonstrate to me that you’re serious about making some change, and then I’ll respond.” Typical in the international arena, but Confidence-Building Measures can also be demonstrated in local, domestic issues as well. So that’s another way of doing it. The classic building-block approach – the whole way you build trust.....

Question:
What do you do when you get to an impasse?

Answer:
I have a technique I use often-times in that kind of setting – I don’t know that everyone can do that, but this is what I like to do: I just stop in the middle of a situation, and I say, "Stop. What’s going on here? What’s going on?” "Well, what is going on? We’re not talking to each other.” So parties begin to stop and reflect. You get them to actually identify what’s happening and why it’s happening. That’s one way that I break an impasse. Obviously, forums and caucuses are another way to correcting and impasse – getting people away from the table, metaphorically speaking. Then you can really beat them up, in the caucus, in an evaluative way, that you wouldn’t dare do at the table.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So you urged people to sit down at the same time that they were demonstrating?

Answer:
I wouldn’t even say sit down; I would say communicate, open communications. You could never place conditions. Someone can demand, "I’ll only negotiate when they stop demonstrating,” and you can carry that message. "They say they will only negotiate if you stop demonstrating,” and the answer usually will be, "Hell no.” So you go back and forth this way, but you would never tell someone what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Someone might advise, "You can always start demonstrating again tomorrow. You’re options are still open.” And they would decide what the risks were or weren’t. They would know that. Usually people would know. More importantly, you would advise the group if they didn’t have the background to make sound choices. You had to be very careful that you weren’t telling them to stop building their power base, but as I mentioned in the case in Minneapolis, the group was very wise and they knew what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Typically, community groups would know what was in their best interests, whether to stop or not. We would not advise them. We would just help them understand their options and also sometimes encourage them to bring in resources from their own community who could advise them. So we might point to people in their community they might want to be talking to, or even from another community, to help them make sound decisions. But our goal was to get people talking.

Question:
You said a minute ago you could not always get people to talk. What would stop you from getting people talking?

Answer:
At times you could not get people talking. Someone was adamant. "I won’t talk to them.” And again I come in, a mediator comes in, and doesn’t know the whole history. "I will not talk to them. Those people don’t listen,” or, "He doesn’t listen.” Sometimes it was a matter of timing.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Interesting story. When you brought parties together when tensions were high, what did you do to try to facilitate effective communications?

Answer:
I would let them talk and do a lot of listening. Sometimes counsel parties if somebody got very angry. Sometimes you would say something like "I can’t tell anybody what to say, or how to behave, but I just want to emphasize that when we use certain language it makes it difficult to communicate and make progress, so I’ll ask you to just keep that in mind.” That wasn’t often. No, I would never tell anybody how to talk to anybody. It might come up. I think people understood what the ramifications of their behaviors were and they had to play it out when they were together. Usually, by the time you get to the table the anger has been expressed sufficiently so that the level of anger expressed at the table is mitigated a bit.




Dick Salem


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Question:
Now who was negotiating with whom?

Answer:
Nobody at this point, but they were opening negotiations. Frizzell was the top federal official. Harlington Wood (later a federal judge) had been there earlier. At an earlier time, there had been efforts to open talks and they hadn’t gone very far. Now Frizzell and his people were going to talk to Russell Means and Dennis Banks and the leadership of the American Indian movement. We had staff going back and forth as I said sometimes escorting lawyers in or bringing people out who were sick or wanted to leave. We were talking to people trying to gauge what we should be doing, and then trying to help get talks started. Marty had carried that ball with his staff, and then I came in to replace him and we overlapped for a few days. Nobody authorized us to mediate. I don’t think the parties felt any need for that, but we were there to participate and help facilitate. We were more in a facilitative mode.

Question:
Explain how you’re using those two terms differently. What do you do when you’re facilitating?

Answer:
Well you’re helping to get things going. You’re there to help in those roles to do what you can to keep it moving, but they didn’t want you sitting at the head of the table saying this is what we’re going to do.




Nancy Ferrell


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Question:
Let me bring you back to the University case. How did you get people to the table?

Answer:
We defined the players, the different interest groups like the minority groups, the black student group, the Hispanic group, and all of those groups then self-selected their representation. The fact that we were committed to a broader review of the institution was very appealing and it gave them some sense of value, legitimate value for having an impact on the whole institution.






Angel Alderete


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Question:
When you go up to these groups and talk to them, how do you start it? What do you say initially?

Answer:
While the police and I would banter back and forth, there was usually at least one guy that was just standing there watching -- not saying anything, not doing anything. I'd go over to him and say, "Hey, what's happening? My name is so-and-so and I'm with the Department of Justice, and I'm here to watch that these guys don't overreact on you." He might say, "How are you going to do that?" So then the conversation begins and they say, "Hey, come over here. This guy says..." And then you start talking.




Ernest Jones


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Question:
Did you meet with them separately?

Answer:
Yes. The first step was to meet with them individually and then, in that meeting to get a yea, or a nay, that they wanted to participate in mediation. Just because the judge referred it to mediation, the party can say "no," we want to go to trial. But that's not a smart move. So each of the parties agreed to give mediation a try. After each of the parties had said that, we got the attorneys representing each of the parties together, and sat down, and made up a list of what the issues were that we were going to address in mediation.




Manuel Salinas


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One of the other issues was that there were funerals going on in the meantime. The police were saying, "How are we going to handle this situation?" They were afraid that the community might get all upset during or after the funeral and trouble would start again. So I met with the police chief and assured him that the group was going to be cooperative, but they needed a permit. And I asked if he'd have police officers located at some distant points, and also asked that a police officer come in in advance to talk to the group to say "I'm the one you contact in case there's any problems." I wanted them to know someone in the police department directly. I forget who the chief selected, but he was a redheaded guy, and really nice individual. Had good character for the funeral purposes. So in case something happened during the funeral, they would get a hold of him. The chief also identified the officers that could work with the community to go to the funeral. The community met with the officer-- it was five people still--so they would know what the officers were going to do. The church was almost downtown, in fact it was close to the police department. So that's the kind of thing we did. He helped establish communication, to gradually build trust. After awhile, I almost felt like I was part of El Comite, a member myself. Which I was not, but they almost begin to treat you that way.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

is to make sure that one group can vent their hostilities among themselves. For example, if you have a bunch of militant people on one side, and they want to get up and give a speech, a talk, anything else, let them talk to themselves and let them cool off, and then have a joint meeting.






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