How did you initiate de-escalation?


Julian Klugman


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
I quieted them down. You're teaching them, you're a role model. It's how do you deal with that anger. I've been in some very violent situations, where you get angry, your heart starts beating, and your natural impulse is to lash out. That's where training comes in. Or, if I'm really angry or if the violence is really scaring me, I take a deep breath and I psychologically step back a foot. I wait until my heart stops pounding which takes about sixty seconds before I respond at all. You can be angry, but it's got to be controlled. Listen to what the person's saying, don't respond to the anger. Don't be condescending, don't be a smart-aleck, don't act like you're really afraid. Don't be a psychiatrist, but do take the person off the hook and depersonalize it. And this is where the interracial thing becomes important. There are differences between people and between groups and how they deal with anger. Do you know the book that the white professor at the University of Illinois did about the differences in confrontation between black and white? It's an excellent book; you ought to read it. You've got a great difference in perception sometimes of what's happening. I saw it in Palm Springs once. Here's this nice, sweet, young white teacher and a black woman parent came out with a lot of anger, which really wasn't directed at this woman. The white woman started crying and the superintendent wrote a complaint letter to the Attorney General of the U.S. about the mediator.

Question:
How does the mediator deal with that problem?

Answer:
Well, you're a role model, you ease up the flow. You might suggest a bathroom break.

Question:
Then you take the black person aside and say the reason she's reacting this way is because...

Answer:
No. I would not presume to tell this woman she does not have a right to be angry. This young white teacher; you tell her it's not personal. She was head of the cheerleaders and there were no black cheerleaders. There was no prejudice involved, of course, but the Palm Springs high school did not have any black cheerleaders. So they wanted some black cheerleaders and she had her own little kingdom of cheerleaders. There are a number of techniques. You break the flow, you talk calmly, you go onto another issue. You assert control in the situation.

Question:
Going back to the anger management, when things get really hot in a mediation, how do you cool them down?

Answer:
Sometimes you can make a joke. Everybody likes it when you laugh at yourself and make fun of yourself, so you can diffuse a situation through humor. One former CRS director used to draw cartoons. Very good ones. I'll show you, I've got a whole series of them. He would sit there and he was like a professional cartoonist, although he was a lawyer.

Question:
Break the flow. Any other ideas?

Answer:
About how you handle it? Ultimately you could adjourn the meeting, if you had to, or you could have a recess. And then you talk to the person.




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. There was a continuing problem at the institution that cut across mediation. The attorneys from the university could be discourteous and abrasive with the staff when they came to meet with residents. The officers disliked them. One of the attorneys caught me one day and said, "We are having trouble gaining entry. They hold us up till the superintendent is here or his associate is here. Then, they hold us up at the gate, then they donít escort us downstairs and we are losing an hour every time we visit. We arenít going to stand for this.Ē I asked them if they had talked to the superintendent about it?" "We shouldnít have to talk to the superintendent," they said, but they agreed to do so and I said I would work with them to get the matter resolved. The legal assistance attorneys were not participating in mediation at this point, but when we opened the next session that afternoon, one the attorneys and a student stormed into the room and announced that they were not going to represent the inmates any more if they were going to be harassed by the staff. "This is an issue which I want resolved here and now or we arenít coming back to this institutionĒ he said. You can image the response of the inmates. They then caucused with the legal team behind a locked door for 45 minutes. They hadnít been there for three weeks and all of a sudden they came in and made this announcement and caucused across the hall. Eventually they came back and the issue was resolved. I donít remember the details, but there were assurances given and then they disappeared again.

Question:
What were you doing while this was going on?

Answer:
I was cooling my heels. What can you do when the group caucuses and they donít want you there? Usually, you wait awhile and give them some time and stick your head in to see if you can be a positive factor. But they wouldnít let me in. Oh, they were furious. That ended and we got through that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We were in the radio room in Wounded Knee at 4 a.m. At four in the morning, someone in a bunker radioed that there was someone in the DMZ, which was a violation of the cease fire. We wondered who would do that at four in the morning just before the talks were going to start? Stan Holder, the AIM security chief, threatened to have somebody shoot at the violators. I convinced him to wait until one of his people, accompanied by our Bert Greenspan, could go out and survey the scene. What they saw was that a jeep with a couple of BIA personnel had gone over a line to find some flat land where they could spread a blanket and have their breakfast. That was the violation. So Burt came back and we got that sorted out over the radio and they got the guys out of there. Finally, at midmorning, it was time to head up to the DMZ, only everything was late. The Indians were up late at night conferencing, negotiating, and celebrating. They went through the sweat, a spiritual ceremony, met some more, then got up late. Now itís an hour behind schedule, and theyíre trudging up the hill with the teepee, which was supposed to be set up an hour earlier. The leaders are walking up the road with the men who were carrying the teepee. Bert and I were walking with them. As we approached the site where they were going to set up the teepee, about 50 yards from the federal roadblock, a helicopter landed at the road block and out stepped Frizzell and Helstern. There were about 50 news men and women standing around as well. Stan Holder turned to me and asked, "What the hell are they doing here?" I told him that I didnít know why they came in before we radioed them to do so. "Well, you get their asses out of here or there's not going to be any talks," someone else said. So I went running up to the road block and called Frizzell away from the reporters and said, "I thought you were going to wait until we sent you a signal." "Well," he said, "I decided this is going to be done on white manís time not Indian time. Weíre going to start when we agreed to start, not when they decide itís time.Ē I said, "I think youíd better go back, because theyíre really ticked off. Were you aware that last night there was an incident last night, that two of your men went over the line and stirred things up? We almost had a shooting incident.Ē "Nobody told me that," he said. "Well, people were up all night," I told him. "You donít know what they went through." "All right, weíll go back, but weíre coming back in an hour and theyíd better be ready." So I ran back down the hill. "Stan, it was a mistake. Iím sorry, I must have screwed up on the timing. Theyíre going back. Theyíll be back in an hour." So they proceeded to set up the teepee.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Also, we got them to agree not to go at each other physically. They also agreed to take their shoes off and we took our shoes off too. If you don't have your shoes on, you don't want to fight. That was something that the superintendent's program administrator suggested to me, and I said, "Heck, yes. Let them take their shoes off." The next step is to take your clothes off, and that helps even more because nobody wants to hurt himself. But we didn't go that far.

So we sat down and talked. At one point we said, "Here's what we want you to do. We want you to agree to keep the peace between yourselves -- no violence. That's the top. How long can you do it?" "Oh, I don't know." "Well, we've got to agree to something. If you can agree to something, then the little carrot out there said that we'll let you free." }

Question:
Are you talking to all of the inmates at the same time?

Answer:
No. We're talking to the Mexican inmates. When I say "Mexican inmates", I'm talking about two gangs, one from the North and one from the South.

Question:
About how many members are there?

Answer:
In that institution, maybe thirty-four.

Question:
All thirty-four were with you?

Answer:
No, we had them select their spokespeople. It's a mistake to assume that the guy you're talking to is the leader. So we said, "Hey, go out there and choose someone yourself." Had we chosen the spokespeople, the inmates would have just laughed at us. So they brought in some people that they chose. You know, in an institution, you can know who the top leaders are, but it's a lot harder to know who the lieutenants are. Anyway, they came in and we talked. At one point, we used the old trick: "Alright, you don't want to come to an agreement? We'll see you guys." So we walked out and closed the door. Then, as we were getting ready to go tell the warden that we didn't get anywhere today, one of the sergeants come out and said, "Hey, they want to talk to you." So we went back in. So here's the plan we laid out for them: "Okay, we're going to sit down, we're going to write something out. And what we're going to write out is that you agree not to blah, blah, blah. What do you think?" So they read it. "That's okay." The other guys read it. "That's okay." We agreed that for two weeks, there wouldn't be a hassle. "And we'll be back before the two weeks have passed, to see how things are going." So for two weeks, things went well. At the two week point, I went into the institution and they had gone at it. So we had to go out there and talk to the guys. As soon as they saw us come in, they dropped their weapons, which were pieces of stick and that sort of thing. This was inside the joint; it wasn't out in the field. We went over and talked to them and said, "You guys, we need to sit down again." "Okay." So we said to them, "We expect you not to go at each other." "Yeah, okay." We sat down and they didn't go at each other. "Alright, want to go two more weeks?" The end result was the same as in our first effort; they just couldn't keep the violence from occurring. Finally, how we got peace was to transfer out some of the guys.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What did you do to diminish tensions between the parties?

Answer:
When we entered, tensions were exceedingly high. I could observe no level of trust whatsoever. The game for inmates was to taunt the corrections officers, who didn't want to be there in the first place, but had to be there because that was their job. Many of the inmates didn't resent every counselor, but they wanted to make life for most of them as unhappy as they could, and they were masters in brinkmanship. There was no trust at those levels, and between inmates there was no trust between groups. During the course of mediation, when people were talking and began listening, tensions were eased. Within the reformatory, the parties at the table had to learn to know each other a little better. There was some transformation as they listened and there was credibility to what was being said. Everybody has certain basic needs including being acknowledged and understood. Those instances that I cited, with the salsa and the hairnet, guards and administrators came to see that the inmates were bright, at times eloquent. The inmates got a sense and understanding of why the place was run the way it was. Some of it was unforgivably sloppy and poor. But there were reasons why there had to be twice as many guards on a given hour, during the head count, and there were reasons why there wasn't more visiting space. So they were able to understand each other's problems and that eased tensions.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What other techniques do you use if youíre in a mediation, formally or informally, if you have parties together and things start getting hot. What do you do to cool things back down?

Answer:
Well, you might take a break at any time. Whatever form itís taking. It depends on what the level of rhetoric is. Iím getting partly theoretical because I canít think of a lot of situations where I was in mediation where it got so hot that people were endangered. You try to let them vent and keep it from going too far. Take a break and come back. Just in my experience I havenít used the caucus a whole lot. I didnít have a need for that, I guess, or maybe my mediation never got that hot.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There are times when we get involved and begin to do an assessment to see whether or not we can do mediation in a very heated, potentially violent, situation. Sometimes just our involvement has enough of a calming influence that tempers cool off and the whole thing de-escalates. So even though we didn't help them reach a mediated agreement, it diffused enough so that other forces could then enter into the process and it didn't become violent. In this particular situation, there had been many physical confrontations and it really did look like it might result in serious violence among competitors. But it never reached that level of tension again. The very fact that we did, in fact, have them talking to each other to some extent, they began to hear each other's specific needs and concerns in greater detail than they did when they were trying to push each other out of the way. So we helped to defuse the actual tension that had existed. This was a successful CRS case, even though it certainly wasn't a successful mediation case. I do think that our involvement at that particular time did play a positive role in diffusing that situation.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Besides monitoring what did you do to try diminish tension after this incident?

Answer:
From there on, a lot of our focus was on working with, supporting, and providing some training to those biracial councils, not just in South Boston, but in other schools as well. South Boston was my major assignment, partly because I was the white on staff, but in many ways, South Boston kind of became the standard against which to measure what we were doing in other schools as well. We also continued working with police, and tried to get our local organizations to participate as monitors, in an effort to get them involved in a positive way, even if they weren't interested in being advocates or anything.

Question:
How did you do that?

Answer:
We just asked. I think everybody agreed that nobody wanted violence, so if this was an effort to stop violence from occurring, then people were willing to participate in that.






Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

We would have a press conference, and in the evening we'd have a debriefing with the press to satisfy the media, so they were not as aggressive as they normally would have been. So this is the kind of thing you do in order to keep things from escalating. It wouldn't have any effect upon the trial, because had there been demonstrations outside the courtroom, it certainly would not have helped her in her case. It wasn't only CRS, it was the Wake County Sheriff's Department, the North Carolina State Patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation, and we all worked harmoniously toward keeping the peace with JoAnn Little.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How do you diffuse tensions?

Answer:
I guess the same old way. Sitting with the players, maybe individually, and then with groups, but start individually. See where they want to take it. Sometimes they ask the way to go because they don't see any other option that's going to work for them. And they realize that's not even going to work for them, in the long run it's not going to be productive. We advocate that people resolve their problems by discussing and coming together, not by shooting each other, or throwing bricks at each other; they can do that if they want to, it's up to them, but we advocate for something else. We personally feel there's a time and place for everything, some solutions create other problems that are worse than the original problem. That Wounded Knee setting that I really didn't talk about last time. They were shooting each other, we were ducking bullets and all that. For me it never has really gotten that bad in any other place. Either the violence has stopped or I haven't arrived at one. That one lasted for seventy three days I think. So I was there for forty-one days in all.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Here in Mississippi, the Attorney General has just designated to you that she wants you to look into this situation...

Answer:
So I went down, and I first met with the group of women, and there were a group of them back there, some five or six of them.

Question:
The people from the farm?

Answer:
Yeah. And they were having some kind of school, some seminar, symposium or something. One of the interesting things you find when you go, is that somebody knows you. One of them said, "when I heard the name Sutton, I kept trying to figure out if it rang a bell." She said, "You're from Arkansas." I said, "Yes I am." She said, "I'm from Arkansas. You used to do Civil Rights work in Arkansas."

Question:
These women?

Answer:
One of the women that were there. I said, "Yes I did." She said, "I know." And then she went on to tell me some of the things in which I was involved. She said, "I remember when you were involved in the sit-ins in Little Rock." Anyway, we laughed about that. And I listened to their story that people were trying to run them out of the area, they found dead dogs on the property, they found a dead one at the mailbox and other acts like this. There's been intimidation, there's been shots fired over the farm, and over the house, and these kinds of things. And I was just sitting back, kind of in the woods. I was concerned about their welfare, really, because these acts were so anti people, they went so much further than just disliking you. They go around trying to destroy you. Anyway, I met with them, and listened to their stories, or the kind of intimidation and insults that they were experiencing. Then next I met with a group of towns people lead by a Baptist preacher, and he got off on this thing about homosexuality was a sin against God, and all of this, and God was going to do this and do that.

Question:
How did you choose the townspeople to meet with?

Answer:
I knew who was raising the issue.

Question:
Okay. And how did you know that?

Answer:
Well, when I was tasked to go down there, it's an area that Sue Brown worked in. She knew who was involved. Again, this is a situation where we needed a Regional Director to make a presence greater than staff member could make, right? When the Attorney General got involved in that place, she wasn't particularly talking about me, not necessarily talking about me. She meant the CRS staff. But if it was that critical, then, I thought I'd better go and I did. So when I sat down with the preacher and about four other people he had with him, and he was ranting and raving about God was displeased and I said to him, "you're a Baptist and I'm a Baptist. So we worship the same God. And you say the wrath of God is going to be upon them, so I'll ask you one question." He said, "What's that?" I said, "Isn't that sufficient? If the wrath of God is going to be upon them, why don't you let God's wrath deal with it? I don't know where, in the Bible it says, your wrath. I'm a fairly decent Bible student, there's nowhere in the Bible, it says God needed your wrath to deal with a problem, so why don't you, since you're so sure God's going to take care of it, just leave it to God and you all get out of the way." Even they had to laugh about that, but it still didn't stop. They filed suit against us, against the CRS involvement. They had an attorney who knew exactly what our mandate was. They didn't really file suit against us, they filed suit against the Attorney General for using CRS in that situation. When we got down there in court, I had to testify and they had to testify. A funny thing though, even in court they were never angry with me, I have a way of doing that, and they said, "Sutton's one of the finest men that I've met," and he brought the CRS technique and concern, as a gentleman and as a technician. He was never abusive and never used or misused the power of justice. Another person involved was the sheriff of the county. And the sheriff claimed that he was neutral, right? But his evidence had been just the opposite. One time when they were raising money to fight the case, the person who was passing the tray was the sheriff. These kinds of things that was going on in the area. We finally came out of there with nothing resolved in that situation.

Question:
Did you bring the parties together in that instance?

Answer:
No. No, I didn't bring the parties together. The preacher didn't want to be seen with them. They hated them more than they do black folk. There was no resolution brought to the problem. However, there was a great easing of the threats.







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