Did a conflict ever escalate after CRS became involved? How?


Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In order to get good information, they got all their Latino officers to infiltrate the park area. I thought, "This is going to be funny." So the situation started and everybody was really concerned because they knew that if they could just get out of the park, everything would be okay. And as they went down the street, they knew that if no one misbehaved himself, including the law enforcement people, it was going to be okay. So every time you heard a siren, you froze, because at the time they didn't have the wails, they had the sirens. It just so happens that at the same time, a Latino kid tried to walk out with something without paying and the shopkeeper called the cops. So that, to them, was the start of the problem. But they came and everybody behaved themselves and nothing happened. So they went to the park, but the tension was already really high. One of your famous people there in Denver, Corky Gonzales, came here. He was doing his thing on top of the truck bed. He was really going well. Then someone lit a firecracker, and so the problem started. The police moved in and they started moving people and the Latinos refused to move. The police also said before that, "You've got five minutes to clear," to make it official and legal. But they wouldn't move and then the police started moving in. Well, at that point, when it's declared illegal, you don't stop and talk to an officer as he's trying to move you out, saying, "This is against my constitutional rights," and this kind of thing, and so they started moving in. So the problems started and the violence began and people were scampering all over the place and clubs were swinging. The funny part was, here were all these undercover officers, on their knees waving their badges. And some of them got zonked. So the problem had already begun and they started marching down and the police tried to keep things in some kind of order. Small scrimmages sprung up all over the place and it wasn't until Atlantic Blvd., that a sergeant from the sheriff's department suspected that there was some illegal activity going on in the Silver Dollar Bar. So the damn fool shot a flair into the bar, and it hit Rubin Salazar right in the head. Of course it imbedded itself into his head, obviously he died, and that was it. When people heard that had happened, East L.A. went up in flames. Most of them moved to East L.A. Park where to this day, we believe that there was a provocateur from law enforcement that said, "This is what's happened down on Whittier Blvd, let's go after him. The sheriff's killed Rubin! Let's go after them!" So there's the sheriff's building there and they began to go there. Nothing really happened to the department, it's just that people began getting beat. And so we were trying to break things up and get people to move all over the place.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Well, one time, in Wounded Knee, when I was inside the compound. Wounded Knee was like a bowl sort of, and the hilltops were controlled by F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals. The Indians had their positions below. We had to take cover a lot of times because the bullets would come toward us. There were people trying to come in and trying to get out, pretty much all the time, although the feds had guards on the perimeter. One Indian guy, who was very agitated came to me, he had a weapon and was saying that I had spoken on the radio to the F.B.I. or the U.S. Marshals, and that evening one of their people who was going out had been arrested. I said, "Well, first of all, did you see me use the radio by myself?" He said, "No." I said, "Ok it's a policy I have, every time I use the radio I'm within hearing distance of one of you. So you'll know what I'm saying. How do you know everyone who's in here is what they seem to be?" He says, "Oh, yeah." So I got over that, but it was a direct challenge. I got him thinking about what the circumstances might be. But that's why we always were careful, especially when violence is very close and you don't know what can happen. So be super careful that everybody understands what you're there for. Especially in that situation because they were shooting at the Feds, and the F.B.I.. and the U.S. Marshals were shooting at them, and yet we're with them inside, so it's kind of a strange role. The leadership especially needs to know, and we're there at their request, and with their permission. They felt we were essential to working through all the problems they had, and coming up with some finality to the occupation. So they needed us, and all sides needed us, and that's why we were there. We were taking some risks, but we tried to minimize risk. If they called a truce, we would go out there to monitor the truce. That was the only real time I've been under fire.



Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But when all hell broke loose, and they started driving the blacks back toward the church, this police officer runs up to me with that long riot stick and he punches me in the stomach with that stick and he told me to "get." And I'm crying out like a crazy somebody. I wouldn't run, and I couldn't fight. I couldn't fight because I didn't have anything to fight with. He's got a stick and a gun, right? I have nothing. So he starts wailing on me with that stick and tells me to "get." Now, if I'd have had some sense, I guess I would have run. That's what he wanted me to do. But I wouldn't do that. And I was wheeling, and then he got mad because he couldn't hit my head, because as big as my head is, I can get it way down in my shoulders, at least in those days I could. He beat up my shoulders and arms pretty good, but he never hit my head a single time. I tell everybody, if you think that Muhammad Ali could do the ropedy-dope you should have seen me. You should have seen my weaving and bobbing and I think golly, I would have made Muhammad Ali look like a neophyte. But he never hit my head a single time. The only thing that saved me was a young white man. Stanfield was his name. I knew him from the days I was director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations. When I was director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations, he was director of the Virginia Council on Human Relations. And I had gone on to work for CRS and he'd come down here to work with the Southern Regional Council. He was a field rep for the Southern Regional Council. Back in those days, it was a small world -- we all, just about, knew each other. So, Stanfield stepped down off the sidewalk, now they weren't bothering Stanfield, and he grabbed me by my arm and stashed me up there where he was.

Question:
That must have been terrifying.

Answer:
It was and it hurt a whole lot. I'm with the Justice Department, and they know that, but you see when the confrontation started, the police all pulled their badges off so their names couldn't be identified. When that ruckus was over I went tearing down to the police department. I went to see the deputy police chief to tell him what happened to me. He said, "Do you know who hit you?" "Of course I don't know who hit me." He said, "Well, if I knew who hit you I could deal with it but there's nothing I can do." I said, "Chief, you knew the men didn't have on badges or their nameplate, so how could I tell you who hit me?" He said, "Well, all I can say is I'm sorry." And that's what went on.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I've seen situations where it came to the point where Latinos and African Americans split, and this is over the goodies, as in Fresno county. It started out with a mutual concern over Fresno State University developing a community radio station. The problem was that the minority community wasn't given voice in terms of how it was going to be developed. Everybody else was given that voice. So they got together and they started raising that issue and we were called down there to help them get together with the administration. So initially the Latinos and the African Americans confronted the station with our on-site help. As things went by and the discussions went on, that administration soon saw that the African Americans had a better grasp on the politics of that situation. We also saw that the Latinos were concerned. The group was very small and so the university began to cater to the African American community. The Latinos saw this and tried to get back with the African American community, but the African American community saw what the school was doing, so they went for that. So that caused the split. In the end, nobody got anything because they were supposed to have a coalition of people being able to provide things. But since that part of the situation didn't occur, people just ran away. Eventually, when they developed that radio station, the school just went ahead and on their own, developed an advisory group and developed and hired people, but not through us and not through the original coalition. They said, "Hey, we can't work with these folks. The Latinos pulled out and so we're just left with African Americans. We're going to be accused of all sorts of things." So that's how everybody lost out.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So does the community help in developing solutions, or do they help with the investigation, or both?

Answer:
Both. Hopefully the community working with authorities can create a climate of prevention. But if something occurs and everybody gets together to resolve whatever happens they see that it doesn't happen or help the prosecution. The police cannot be everywhere, something that we used to point out was the need for community cooperation.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The first day I was there, unbeknownst to us, Frizzell held a press conference saying that the government had learned that there was a split in the American Indian Movement, that there had been a fight in the AIM office in Rapid City which was some miles away. This really antagonized the American Indians in Wounded Knee. We didn’t know anything about the press conference. Marty and I went down into a room where the leadership was early that afternoon, and they had just heard the radio report on Frizzell’s remarks and they just jumped at us. This was a day before talks were supposed to start and they were fuming. "They’re threatening in this way, they’re creating the wrong picture, they’re telling lies. Why is he doing this if talks are supposed to start?" They had already created a cease fire zone.





Julian Klugman


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Tell me how you structure the sessions, how you get people to the table, how do you open it up?

Answer:
We go over the ground rules, and we have things in writing. We had procedures. So I said, these are the ground rules and I couldn't say the press won't be here because I'm doing it in public, I'm doing it right in city hall in the courtroom there and the press was there. So that was one reason we said we were going to finish in three days because by the time the newspaper came out we were done. They don't have a daily paper there. So I found this out. We started the mediation Tuesday and I think the paper was being published Thursday so we're going to finish. So by the time the paper comes out, we're done. And that's when Ben Holman, the director, called me and said, "Julian, they told me you were doing it in public. Absolutely don't do it." I said, "I'm done." He said, "How did it work?" I told him it was successful.







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