Did you find yourself helping the parties strengthen their own capacity to deal with conflict?
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
So you've got to help these guys to understand that from the top
down, that when somebody brings you x-number of concerns about what might be happening,
they should look into it before they start blaming that guy for not doing his job. And as you
begin to start building that relationship with that guy, they're going to feel freer to tell you what
is happening. Maybe even doing something beforehand, and that's the important thing with
people who assess. "If you can, do it, take care of it. If you can't, get somebody else from
someplace else to do it."
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Describe a typical kind of case. You
said, "The kind of thing I was getting involved in." What was that thing?
Let me answer you with this. In 1981, it was virtually all mediation, fishing rights issues
other Indian relation issues. But one day in November of 1981, I received a phone call from the
NAACP president in Spokane, and she said, "There's a picture in today's newspaper of a big
cross being burned with a bunch of men in uniforms and hoods all around the cross. It says it's
the Old Hinge Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It says, Aryan Nations. What's that?" I said, "Aryan
And I didn't know. So I go over and meet with her, and then I realize that I'm going to Coeur
to meet the undersheriff for the first time. He's looking for somebody like me, and I was looking
for somebody like him. We worked very closely together.
After a number of contacts, I realized that there needed to be an entity to countervail the
influence of the Aryan Nations. They weren't interested in sitting down with a Jewish person, or
a black person, or anything like that. But I began the process of identification, and I realized
that the Spokane area had a minority community that was concerned about these activities. And
the Jewish community was concerned about these activities. But there was no minority
community, to speak of, in Coeur d'Alene, or in Northern Idaho. And so whatever was worked
would need to be worked out on the joint basis for both geographies. So I pulled together
NAACP representatives from Spokane, and the one Jewish Rabbi serving that whole area, as
well as the representative from the school superintendent's office, the prosecuting attorney, the
US attorney, the police chief, and the sheriff of Spokane County. Also, we had the Methodist
district superintendent and businessmen and the secretary of the bar association. And on the
other side, that undersheriff in Northern Idaho, and the representatives from the police
departments over there. There was one Jewish resident, but I couldn't find a black person at that
point who lived in Coeur d'Alene. I found out later that there were several, but I couldn't find
Oh, and the state's Human Rights Commission had an office there, so that director joined us and
a United Church of Christ minister over in Coeur d'Alene. And we pulled them together, after a
of discussion, I was the common link between all of them. They didn't know each other, even in
Spokane. I was the convener. It was important that we stay together long enough to formulate a
program and for me to get out of that role as quickly as possible. Because if anything's going to
evolve here, the last thing that should be done is that this group was formed by the US
Department of Justice on one hand, and secondly, somebody from Seattle. Those are the bad
people. I mean, Seattle is in competition with Spokane. Seattleites don't understand people east
of the mountains. But, in essence, what we did was form an ad-hoc organization, sponsor the
first conference on hate groups and hate activity in the Northwest.
TAPE CHANGE; QUESTION UNKNOWN
Not directly. I had contact with Reverend Butler, the head of it. But he really wasn't
interested in dealing with me in anyway over that. And that was it. And I don't think that there
would be anybody in these organizations that would have any interest in meeting with him
either. There was a two day seminar, it was statewide, Northern Idaho with the state of
Washington. And at the end of my plan, we had already drawn up a constitution, by-laws for the
Interstate Task Force on Human Rights. And that conference gave it legitimacy and we went
from there to do a number of things in supporting each other in both areas.
So I gather you did a lot more of this sort of
Yeah, out of that model came the Interstate Task Force on Human rights that we eventually
formed. Hate group activity began to manifest itself, cross-burning incidents, harassment, and
organized activity, and this was before skinheads surfaced. We had Klan activity and Aryan
activity and your Christian patriots and various assorted organizations that had not been present
before, or known to be present. We became aware of the territorial imperative of these groups,
they were organizing to form a state within a state. The Northwest Aryan Empire.
So what did these groups do to try to counter that?
Well, every year, the World Aryan Congress met at Coeur d'Alene, out at Aryan
seven miles North of Coeur d'Alene. You had up to three or four hundred people coming there.
Kootenai County Task Force on Human Rights, broke off from the Interstate Task Force, so you
had two different groups, after a couple of years. They formed Human Rights Observances in
the City Park downtown, with several thousand people in attendance, and greetings from the
governors of Oregon and Washington. That was my job, to generate these. It was to say, the
media was coming to cover the Aryans, that was news. So this was to say, in effect, that there
are other people besides them, and we stand for human rights, fairness, and say yes to equity,
and so on. But they took on a lot of different projects and programs.
Then there were incidents in Coeur d'Alene, Pocatello, Boise, Portland, Seattle, and it was just
cropping up all over the place. I pulled together about fourteen people from over in Spokane to
sit down and consult together, these would be the NAACP regional president, Human Rights
Commission Representative, and LULAC, and so on. But after we had this initial meeting, we
then decided there was a need for more input. So we held a series of consultations over a year.
First in Spokane, and then in Seattle, then in Portland, then in Coeur d'Alene, and then at the end
year, formed the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. And that has now
expanded to include Colorado. Surely you know this, or do you?
Oh. Well it's ten years old now, the Northwest Coalition. But it has representatives from the
Governors' offices from each of the five original states that we had involved, Montana,
Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. It's a mix of officials and community leadership.
The NAACP regional offices, and somebody from an Urban League, Latino organizations, one
representative from a police organization in each state, a representative of the Governor's office
in each state, a Human Rights Commission representative from each state, general local coalition
organizational representatives from each state. This is on the Board of Directors. And we've
held a full-time staff of five people. A foundation support of 265 organizations of different
kinds, ranging from the police department to state departments of education, and Diocese. The
local Methodist Church on Mercer Island, was the first church. That's where I lived. The annual
Methodist conference, and even the Northwest Kite-Flyers organization. You don't have to be a
civil rights organization to be concerned about these things. It is 265 organizations. But it's
educational programs, conferences, and there's a big annual conference held in each of the three
states annually. And then smaller conferences are supported.
When an incident occurs, a team will be formed to go there and respond to the problem. I was
the chair of the monitoring committee, which is the main role we had, and that was to document
incidents. If we could document incidents, and show by compilation of credible data, that this
number of incidents had occurred in this community. Or then over to the Northwest, so many
homicides, kidnapping, all of the different forms of violence. We could persuade officials and
public opinion that we have a problem. And that's what we did. We were doing bias-crime data
collection on a five-state basis, way before the FBI started.
We, being CRS?
No. No. The Northwest Coalition was involved in urging National Data Collection for
time before it became mandated by Congress. In fact, I'd done that kind of work in Alabama in
the 1950's, state-wide.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
CRS has had a lot of different roles and situations.
times we were mediators, at other times we were what the agency termed as providing technical
assistance. For a lot of my last few years I was in that role of trying to help communities come
up with ways of handling conflicts within communities where there were complaints by the
community against the police departments. I became quite involved and pretty successful in
setting up Citizen Review Boards. One of the problems that you always faced in CRS was I
would describe myself as like the Lone Ranger, you would ride into town, spend a day or six
months. A lot of people might say who is that man. You are not really a part of the community.
CRS was an agency that was always burdened with problems. You might not be able to be
helpful because you didn't have the money to go there, or you had other things to finance. I
think one thing that CRS was always concerned about was creating things within the community
that would help the community solve its problems. I really got involved in trying to work in
communities with citizens, police departments, and political leaders about setting up these police
review boards so that the community would have a way of participating. I don't know what the
last figure was, but I think almost close to 50% or more then 50% of cases that CRS handled
over the years were cases involving minorities and the police department. That was always the
number one issue. It far exceeded any other complaints. To help communities to come up with
ways of responding to citizen complaints about police beatings was important.
Did you claim that the two time periods that you worked on
CRS were, I can imagine there
was a big jump, a big change from '75 to '97 involving the changing roles of society and civil
rights in the
Oh yeah I started out during the days of demonstrations in the streets and so that's what we
did. We would respond and go to some sort of conflict that was happening in the streets. That's
what we did. We would go into situations and be a presence and reduce the tensions and get
people talking. Then of course, in the process we would also help the local communities build
their own resources. What happened is we would see communities forming human relation
commissions because we had been a part of helping them set that up, and of course they were
better able to handle situations so they didn't escalate up to conflicts on the street. I think the
community shifted away from demonstrating on the street to taking issues into court. I started
spending a lot of time being a mediator in the Federal courts, not so much in the streets anymore,
but in the courts. I started '60/'69, the Federal Government was the way to get things answered
civil rights and solutions around those issues really needed to happen at the local level. Then I
started getting involved with trying to set up these review boards so that the local communities
could form solutions. Taking issues to the federal courts might not have yielded much of a
solution. So in this way people themselves saw that they could get things done.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
And the next thing you are interested
in establishing among people who before then had no power, you are interested in establishing
in them a sense of power is the wrong word, but a sense of ways that they can protect
themselves. In other words, you are empowering them. That's what I'm trying to say. And
every time you ought to leave them empowered.
Yes, so you are strengthening their capacity.
Oh yes. To deal with that problem, should it occur next week, or next year, or next ten
years, that they aren't totally dependent on you, because you may not be in place. That they
too can deal with it.
Hold that place and lets back up to empowerment. What are some techniques that you use
to empower community members?
Knowledge and know-how-- the ability to assess.
You taught them that? What did you teach them and how?
You teach them how to locate resources. As I say, there are three levels of illiteracy, and
only one of them is academic. Another one is systemic. How they use the system. Poor
people and unempowered people are unempowered because they don't know how to use the
system to their advantage. So they just go back and get mad about that. I have an old saying:
Don't get mad, get even. Don't get mad is the same thing a preacher would say, don't curse the
darkness, light a candle. And I call myself lighting a candle, teaching them how to utilize the
The third area for illiteracy is that of race and ethnicity. We are so ignorant as it relates to race
and other people beside ourselves. So I call that cultural illiteracy. We are culturally illiterate,
we are academically illiterate, we are systematically illiterate, and when you put the three
together, you can empower people. Blacks must learn how to solicit
others in their fight.
See, the question in America now is not just black and white, like it used to be. The
Hispanics are coming in large numbers, as are Asians in this region. There is a greatly
increased number of Asians in this region. From Cambodia, from Vietnam, and from other
parts of the southeast Asia. I work with them and say, you know, "That's the Jewish community
in there." The Hispanic community and you should get together. Go call on a leader with the
Hispanic community. They have a natural kinship with you and so now they might not be
willing to go as far as you are willing to go, because no one is willing to go as far as you're
willing to go if it is your problem. So how to mobilize? I deal with black students on college
campuses like that. How to be effective when you are a minority. Don't just sit back and say
that white folk do this and white folk do that. They impose their decisions on us, get
strategically into decision making bodies. Make sure someone from your group is on these
bodies. You complain about spending all of the student activity fee and they won't bring
anyone in that you want to come in and speak. Don't just sit back and complain, strategically
get some of your people on the committee that disperses the money.
So knowledge of, as well as involvement in the system is important.
That's true. It's important to know how to use it. Until you benefit like everyone else.
Otherwise the majority uses it to its benefit.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Well, let me expand on that a little bit in terms
of what you
actually did in the meeting. Did you actually come up with the drafting of
agreement or did they come up with the agreement?
No, you do that together. In any community they know who the scribes are. The scribes sit
they write. So, you identify the person who can identify the scribes. And over here, well they
figure that all of them are scribes, they just have to look around and grab somebody.
Beyond scribes, though, who's saying..? We know that one issue is education. Who's saying,
"Well, I think we need to get six Indian teachers at the high school?"
We don't deal with that. I do not deal with sitting at the table and talking about numbers. If
you let people work together to make a decision about how many teachers they need, you put it
yourself. Along with the establishment and the minority community, you let them work out the
helps them because they get accustomed to working together. CRS mediators don't have the time
actually more beneficial for everyone involved. In this instance the Blue Sky Action Council is
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Let's talk about training. Did you use
training as an intervention technique?
A lot. We used it a lot with police departments, partly as an intervention and also as a
courtesy to the departments. We would go in and do a review of the polices and procedures for
compliance and then do training on excessive use of force. So the police officers would
understand what that meant and how it related to the policy. Sometimes there were no policies.
Sometimes there was a policy, but nobody knew about it. Sometimes there were policies people
knew about and they chose not to abide by it. One of the interesting dynamics in the law, which
affected police departments, were the deep pockets where the municipality could be sued and
become liable for a police officer's action. As soon as that was discovered, the number of suits
against municipality skyrocketed. It didn't change the number of incidences of abuse, it just
changed the legal response to it because it became lucrative for attorneys to consider taking it on.
So all of a sudden, the cities were saying, "You're going to have to do this differently." The
pressure came from the legal system and the municipal government to the police departments,
where it had never been there before. They were saying, "You are bankrupting us." And
literally, several small communities were bankrupt by these kind of suits. There was the custom
and practice of the department, and then there was written policy and procedure, and many times
they were completely opposite. They did not match. And that was one of the training pieces.
There has to be integrity between policy and procedure, and the custom and practice. If you end
up in trouble they're going to look at custom and practice and you are going to be held
accountable, regardless of what's written down. So we had that kind of discussion with
administration, and then we did the orientation and training with police officers about their
liabilities. We'd explain that the department wasn't going to back them up anymore because they
are going to become liable. It was an interesting dynamic. One of the real hard struggles for
police officers now was that if they get in trouble, they may not have even done it, and it may be
false. But the department, all of a sudden, had its own interest, separate and apart from the police
officer. So the police officers became very isolated and I think that it created some really
difficult times. Community policing though, has helped bring back together the interests of the
community, the administration, and the police officers. They don't see each other as
How does it do that?
Because the bottom line is, even if it's a lawsuit, the whole community is the one that loses.
If there's abuse, the whole community loses. If police officers are allowed to behave that way,
then everybody loses. And if the administration lets them get away with it, then it's going to
leave an impact on them. The right thing to do is to work with the community and make it
everybody's interest. Cost-wise and law enforcement-wise, it's safer for the police officer when
the community's involved, the police officers are less likely to be harmed. When the
community's involved, the citizens are safer and community money is used in a more productive
and pro-active way. It's interesting that most police departments still project themselves as
protect and serve, but they have become law enforcement people. You can read about it in my
dissertation. That shift occurred when the professional law enforcement image came in, and the
image of protect and serve became a slogan and not a reality. The shift was partly because law
enforcement realized that they can't enforce the law in a society that's democratic. The
community has to allow them to enforce the law. The police theory is that they can only enforce
the law in a police-state kind of environment. It can't work in a democratic society where you
have to have the community give you permission to serve them. It's an interesting transition
because the history of our style of policing is to protect and serve. I also saw it in the school
systems, where the professional educators said they didn't need the parents there. Then they say,
"We going to do. What are we going to do?" You need the parents there, you need the parents
involved if you're going to do a good job.
Did you go after an incident, or did you do it pro-actively?
If we were in an area and there were time and resources available, I would do it as a
pro-active response if they were interested in it. If the department specifically called and asked,
we would try very hard to do that. Anytime I was in a community, it was a service that I offered
to the department. The training was pretty set and we could spend half a day. It was good public
relations for them. The excessive use of force training was one of them. Principles of good
policing was another, and it talked about some of the things I just talked about. Another really
important piece was their mission statement. The police department's described mission whether
it's protect and serve or law enforcement and arrest. That reflected throughout the department,
one way or the other. Sometimes, there was inconsistency and one group believed it was protect
and serve, but another group believed it was kick butt and take names. They all acted out in
different ways, depending on who their field supervisor was. That in itself created conflict in the
community, in how they interacted with the department. So one of the things we stressed a lot
was to make a clear statement of what the mission is. That needs to be done in cooperation with
the community. That way, the community and the police department choose the cooperative
relationship between the two. That became part of our brochure that we did on commending and
complaining about police officers. The first thing on there was the department's mission
statement. Then, reviewing every police procedure that you have, or that you ever had, to see
whether it enhances that mission statement or detracts from it. That became the benchmark.
Does this policy enhance our mission statement? If it doesn't, we need to change the policy. If it
does, then it's a good policy. That gave us a tool to be pro-active with the department and be a
consulting resource to them.
Did you do other kinds of training beyond police departments?
We did some training with housing authority people. One in particular, we would bring in
teams from different community housing authorities, and we would do problem-solving and
team-building and to respond to civil rights issues. Civil rights is our mandate, but they could
use these skills in any situation. It was a problem-solving, team-building approach. I did the
multi-culturalism diversity training with different groups, university students and faculty. A lot
of the training was on the job. Often, I felt more like I was coaching and mentoring, being real
careful to make sure I was modeling the skills of consensus-building and protecting interests.
Those things were critical to every encounter and every community. That probably was the
ongoing coaching, mentoring relationship. We did a lot of internal training.
You mean within CRS?
Within CRS, in the last five or six years. There hadn't been a whole lot before that. One of
the things that was a mission of that training was to create an environment where the veteran staff
was honored and valued for what they contributed. They became coaches for the younger staff
rather than it becoming competitive. That was successful. John Chase was kind of the dean of
that group and there were about eight of us that were faculty for that effort. I felt good about it, I
felt like we really were moving away from competing with each other to being a team and
supporting and working with each other. I don't know what the situation is now.
Did you provide any kind of technical assistance to parties, beyond framing?
Like understanding law or something like that? We would do technical assistance with
review of policy and procedure. Once, I had a university call and request assistance with
reviewing their student handbook. I went in and spent a couple of days looking at their policies
and procedures and gave them recommendations. The interesting thing about that, was they were
being pro-active and that was really positive. We looked at pictures, we looked at recruiting
photographs. "What does it look like? What does your campus looks like? Looks like it's all
white to me. If I'm a minority, I don't see myself in this university." Most of them were going,
"Oh!" They probably took that picture back when there weren't any minorities there. In this
particular instance, one of the glaring kinds of things I said was, "After reading your student
handbook, the most egregious thing you could do on this campus is drink beer in the dormitory."
The administrators said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well you have eight full columns in the
handbook about what's going to happen to me if I'm caught drinking beer in the dormitory. And
you have one little column at the end of the handbook that says, 'Oh, by the way, don't
discriminate against anyone!' It's obvious that this handbook was written in the fifties, when
drinking in the dormitories was the most egregious thing anybody did. But now you have interest
in discrimination and all you did was tag it on. Again, if I were a minority reading your
handbook, the message is pretty clear from the written policy that discrimination was a tag on.
So you need to incorporate that as an integral part and you need to be more realistic about what
are the violations of the university. Drinking in the dormitory probably isn't high on your list
right now." It was those kinds of things that people don't see in their publications. That's the
benefit of that third party coming in. We're not here to harm you, we're here to help you. So I'm
not going to then go around and tell people, "Look at what this," and then name that university.
The positive thing is they asked for help and someone who has an eye for that is going to see
some things that you're not going to see. It can help you, it's not going to harm you. So that was
a good example of how we were able to help them see themselves and look at themselves in a
way they hadn't been able to do. They wanted to, but you just don't see it if you've been looking
at it for twenty years. That was considered technical assistance.
We did the same thing with police departments. We'd review their policies and
procedures. You would look at their policies and procedures, and they'd say they want to be
community policing, but the policy still reflected traditional policing. One of the glaring
examples of that was the evaluation system. That was interesting to help people understand. If
your evaluating system is still evaluation of police officers on the number of tickets they write
and the number of arrests they make, but you're asking them to be community-oriented, they're
going to perform to the evaluation, regardless of what you say here. We all perform to our
evaluations. So there has to be consistency between the evaluation and what your goals and
missions are. That's difficult. It's difficult to change an evaluation system within an institution.
But you can't change the mission if you don't change the evaluation system. We also helped
people understand where they may not be in compliance with civil rights law, and then help them
come into compliance. This was an ongoing thing regardless of whether it was housing or
contracting. That was one of the real benefits of that municipal guide, it helps municipality look
at themselves and do some of the things we would go and do if we had time to go into every
community. I've done whole communities. Once we get in there, it's something that I'm willing
to do to really enrich what we do.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Talk about your work with the aggrieved community, preparing it to meet with the
establishment community or vice versa. Do you help them build a capacity to negotiate and
represent themselves at the meeting?
Yes, there's an element of capacity building. What you try to get them to do is, what's their
beef? They know what it is. We're not telling them. They know what it is. What their issue is,
what their concerns are, what their beef is. The question for them to figure out who is going to
represent those interests concerns and issues in their conversations with officials. Sometimes
large community meetings are helpful, but they have to be organized in such a way, and the
community needs to speak for itself; but its leadership or its representatives have to create the
stage for that meeting to take place. For that to happen, their representatives need to be able to
say what it is that they're concerned about in such a way that at the pre-meeting with officials that
it can be heard, and then a stage or setting can be created for those issues to be either raised by
the wider community or addressed with the larger community. So what you're really doing is
listening enough so that they get through their anger, because the first part of the activity is
enormous. I mean when CRS goes in people are very angry. A tremendous amount of the time, I
think the overwhelming majority of the time, people in the aggrieved community are very angry.
It takes a bit of courage, quite a bit. I guess it's sophistication and working in these settings,
patience, and not thinking you have an answer for people. What we do -- what I do -- is go in
there prepared to deal with a high level of anger and frustration and to listen with patience for a
long period of time, as long as it takes without making suggestions. In that process they might
ask for suggestions as how they might proceed and then I'll ask, "What's the array of options
available to you?" Once again rather than telling them how to proceed -- because then you
become just a simple advocate for their advocacy -- is helping them to explore what options they
may have available to them. Then, which ones they'd like our help with. From that kind of
meeting, we're also having a parallel set of meetings with officials so we can get their point of
view on what they see as the difficulties or the problems and often times officials see it as issues
of personality, or historical questions with inability to build bridges. Then there's another section
of officials that sees it as part of the on-going effort to build appropriate relationships and
bridges. In either case, we try to get them into the framework of building relationships and
appropriate bridges of trust and communications. We know that we're only there during the
crisis period. One of the main things that we try to do in addition to leaving a structure or a
vehicle in place, what we're always trying to do is enhance local communication and the local
relationships. We talk about that with each set of parties, with all the parties, because we know
we'll only be there for a short period of time. It would be presumptuous of us to think that we're
going to solve it for them, and it would be ineffective of us if all we wanted to do was help them
to reach agreements when in fact if you help them with their local relationships and local
communication, you've left in place the infrastructure for them to resolve future problems before
they escalate; or if you have to come in, at least your relationships and your communications is at
a better level and better point than the first time you came in.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Did the president ask for your advice?
Yes, we talked to him about how that meeting should go. He was sensitive to our work and
his work in racial problems at the previous university and he knew the dynamic there. And the
chancellor knew that he should not have walked out on the students the previous time. And that
some of the language youth used in angry situations are part of the venting process and it's
needed to occur. We talked about that. The most important thing was his willingness to convey
that things were going to change and that he knew the issues; that the students did not have trust
that the university was really going to carry forward and live up to whatever they would say. He
also had to say something about the legitimacy of their demands and that the university was
going to deal with them. So he set that tone. He did not increase the anger.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
contacted the principal, and I was amazed that the principal is wide open. "Come on down, I'm
trying to do this and that." I'll go over what we are trying to do. What he talked about was that
he tried to form a multicultural club to work with both groups of students, to kind of figure out
what the school could do to get the students to relate better. I said, "That sounds like a great idea,
but too often, when you have a voluntary club, you only get the goody-two-shoes. The hardcore
kids that are really the cause of the problem, you can't get them into those kinds of voluntary
situations. You have to figure ways out to pull the really critical leadership that are involved in
the conflict to the table." I said, "Let me share a couple of strategies that we've used and I'll send
you some material and see whether that's helpful. So that's always for me a very positive thing,
when I can go to my experience and pull out a couple of real visual, clear tools that I can send to
an institution, and say, "Look, we've tried this and this works at these locations." I sent it to him
and I think it changed the demeanor of our relationship and I said, "I'd like to come out and meet
Had you met with him at this point?
No, this is all over the phone. Now he feels that I'm an asset. Not only have I been there,
but I have some tools to offer. So then he's more than willing to meet with me, and to let me
come to the school and review it.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
yesterday that you spent a year on the church-burning task force. Tell me about that.
When the public outcry over the church burnings hit its peak, toward the end of 1995, the
administration had to do something. There had to be a public response. The group obviously
most competent in that field was CRS. However, the staff had just diminished down to forty-five
people across the whole country, so they didn't have the resources. So they started calling some
of us back on contract if we were willing. If they called me back today and said they had a
situation they needed me to help them with, I'd go in a minute. I think most of us have that
commitment to the task, regardless of any of the problems we talk about. There is a commitment
to the task. I would help in a minute. So I was glad to do that.
They put together teams, and I was working out of Birmingham. What we did was go to
communities where fires had occurred. Our role was to coordinate with the other federal
agencies, the F.B.I., the ATF, the local law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's office. We all
became a part of a team, and it was one of the most effective cooperative efforts I've been a part
of. So that became a good model for some future things they might do.
Green County, Alabama was where several fires were, so we spent a lot of time there.
We did the same kinds of intervention that we would've done in any circumstance. We found out
where the tensions were, where the perceptions between the races were, and if it was causing
additional tension. Was it likely to erupt into any other violence? In many instances, many
communities just did what they needed to do. They didn't need our intervention.
What they needed to do?
They met with the parties involved and they made a public and professional response to the
perpetrators. That had integrity, that said, "This is not acceptable. We're going to figure out who
did this, and we're going to do something about it." The community at large, other churches,
began voluntarily to mobilize resources to rebuild the churches that were burned. They gave
support and affirmation to those generally minority churches. By doing this, they showed, "We
do not condone this." Those were the kinds of things that didn't happen in the 1960's, which
made this different.
I think CRS can be proud of that. I think many of those people had learned how to do
that from CRS intervention in the past. The way to do it is for us to work together and say to the
perpetrators, "This is not acceptable. Whoever you are, this is not acceptable. All of us are going
to respond to it." The black church, the Hispanic church, or the Jewish church is not isolated in
this community. They were doing what they needed to do.
In communities where they needed some help, we did community building things. I met
with a group in Green County for six or seven months once or twice a month, and began to do
some things that were community building. After you get into it, it didn't have anything to do
with the church fires. It was, "What can we do to become a stronger community?" They put
together some really exciting proposals and implemented them, and had some good things going
on as a result. I did some training there, community training and department training. One of the
things I did was bring teams in. One of the things we did in Alabama was put together a regional
training. We brought in municipal teams that included community leaders, law enforcement,
civic leaders and elected officials. We had resources from all those different agencies to help
everyone understand what was going on and what resources were available to them. Then we did
team building workshops with them, to help them function more as a team when they go back.
That was a broader regional response. They were probably one of the most exciting things we
A few of the instances continued to be responding to the fire and the tension over that. It
was a he said, she said, he did it, we did it, kind of frustration. There were also difficulties and
conflicts that arose out of money. There was money coming in for the churches to be rebuilt, but
the perception from some of the communities was that it was being siphoned off and stolen, and
used for other benefits.
In some places, they couldn't get resources because of whatever technicality, and we'd try
to network for them and try to find some other resources. We were really very generalist
consultants out there, trying to respond to community tensions. While we were there, we also
provided some technical assistance.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
You mentioned at one point that the majority of cases don't go to mediation. What
determines whether a case is appropriate for mediation or not?
Well, for a start, you need parties that are identifiable enough so you can say
"These are the sides." Sometimes that is not clear. Sometimes there is tension in the community,
but it is hard to define who, exactly, the opposing parties are. Second, you need specific issues
that are clearly-definable. One of the things that's difficult to mediate is, for example, if there is a
court case and a community believes that even bringing the case to court was an injustice, or the
disposition of it is not fair. Usually you can't mediate that. So in that case, I would look for ways
to bring some healing, some communication, some positive interaction among members of the
minority and the majority community. I'd just try to begin to get some common interests, some
common goals to deal with race relations in that community in general, without going through a
formal mediation process.
Now, I'm one of those people who starts off every case initially by saying to myself, "Okay, how
can I bring this to mediation?" It helps me from day one, minute one to have an agenda in my
mind. As I'm working toward that, it may become clear fairly quickly that the case is not going to
go to mediation, and that's fine. But if I start out thinking that it might go to mediation, I have a
perspective to work from when I approach the parties. If that doesn't work, then I ask myself, "Is
there some training we can do? What other kinds of assistance can we provide? Are there some
documents I can give them, or maybe I can just facilitate some meetings?" or whatever. But
usually, unless I am asked specifically to come in for some other purpose, I'll assume we're trying
to initiate mediation.
Remember the case I was talking about earlier, about tax day? In that case I was asked to come to
facilitate the meeting. I ended up facilitating another one similar to that about a month later in the
same community. And there were some great things that came out of that, so it was a very
rewarding and beneficial event. But that would be an example of where I didn't attempt to go
toward mediation, even though there were some pretty good outcomes that arose from that
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Do you often have lawyers at the table?
And then are they typically the spokespeople?
Not if I can help it. Sometimes a party most typically the community will want the
lawyer to be the spokesperson, because they don't have enough confidence in themselves. They
believe that their lawyer will represent them better. But if I can persuade them that both sides will
have a lawyer there as an advisor, but that the lawyers should not be the spokespeople, I find that
more effective. And once they've started in the process, that works. But I'm not always
I can think of at least one example where there was a great deal of hostility between the parties
and, in fact, the lawyers are the ones who made the agreement happen. In this case, the lawyers
had gotten beyond personal hostility issues and were able to advise their parties on what made
sense. The lawyers devised a solution that met both sides' needs, and then they sold that idea to
their clients. There was no way that the clients could have done that on their own, because they
weren't getting beyond their mutual resentment and hostility and total lack of trust in each other.
But the lawyers didn't assume each other to be jerks, so they were able to work out an agreement.
Without the attorneys, an agreement would never have been reached.
Did the agreement hold?
For a while, for quite a while. I don't know what the situation is now. Again, this is one of
those communities where there has been conflict for decades, if not centuries. But it certainly
held on those particular issues, at least for quite a while. I haven't been there for a number of
years now. I suspect if I go back now, the same parties will still exist and some of that same
hostility and distrust will still be there. But there is at least a significant core of people who
participated in that mediation process and in reaching that agreement, and who saw that this
But again, it's not just up to the people at the table. Everyone at the table has people behind
them, out in the community who aren't at the table and who don't benefit from that process. So
those pressures on the people at the table ultimately have their impact again. I think the
agreements that are easiest to carry out and ultimately implement, are the ones in which the entire
party is at the table, without a lot of constituents out there who are going to look over their
shoulders or second-guess them, or even worse, have to approve the agreement that gets reached
at the table.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
In that case, you were helping the community develop a state of
readiness and really coaching and helping to strengthen them.
Helping them to address the issues. The issues were out there. There was a
meeting; there were problems between the police and the community; but before you could get
into an agenda to deal with it, there had to be someone who would be representing the
community's concerns. That was a suggestion on my part. "Why don't you call a meeting of
some of the leaders and persons who are concerned with this issue and I'll talk to them about the
process that we can provide." They had a meeting and I came and talked about our process.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
I learned mediation out of labor mediation, so it really was
taking labor mediation principles
and applying them to community disputes. So it's mediation.
At that time, though, we were very, very concerned about empowerment. Minority groups didn't
know how to do it. Later, black and Mexican groups became much more sophisticated and we
were also working with the Indians, the Native Americans. You were three quarters of the way
there if you could get a police department or a school system to sit down with the NAACP.
little towns would have little pockets of black people and NAACP chapters. The NAACP didn't
have any staff, so we were servicing them. The empowerment was extremely important, and we
were the U.S. Justice Department.
How did you do it?
We didn't do it, the black community did it. But we backed them. They did it partly by
school boycotts because California school districts get paid by school day attendance. If your
kid isn't in school, the school district doesn't get the bucks from the state. So that became
We weren't advocates for the black community. I didn't have a right to speak for the black
community, neither did my black staff members. But there were things wrong there, all kinds of
things wrong tied to the school system. They were in violation of the employment laws.
Usually blacks were really being mistreated. It's like the South, as soon as you got out of the big
cities. It was hard, it took years of work, then gradually I got to know everybody, and I got to
know where the bodies were buried. My staff got to know people, so you weren't just coming in,
you knew what was going on in that town.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Were you always able to control the elements?
No, you have to be flexible. I learned that working with kids years
ago. When I went through college, I worked with 5 year old little boys. I learned you have to be
flexible and work with a short attention span. Mediation has some of the same elements. One of
the first thing I did with those little five year old boys was to say, "Let's take a vote. Should we
cross the street together?" They all voted against me and that's the last time I've ever asked a
group when I can't accept their decision. Don't let people vote on something if you're not
prepared to give them what they want. I believe in people. If you give people a chance, they
usually will come to a good decision, but you've got to give them power and don't kid them.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
So I identified agency people -- because they're the ones who had the
resources -- agency people that might be interested in understanding what radio and TV is all
about, the FCC regulations and so on. We came together at the post office in downtown
Denver and we had at least forty people there. They were interested, so I brought in a person
that knew FCC law to explain it to them further. He explained about the citizens' rights -- that the
airwaves belong to the citizens and not the companies and so on. They were very much
interested in it because they were concerned about lack of employment opportunity for
Hispanics in radio and TV. The group was formed immediately because they were so interested
in the issue. They called it the Colorado Committee on Mass Media of Spanish
I brought in a professor from Metro State that was interested in
media, and then we brought in people who knew even more about media in Denver. They had
a round table discussion on it and then the committee spread out to go to the various TV and
radio stations to look at their licenses. At that time the license renewal was every three years.
At that time the community had the right to protest. Now I think it's seven years, or nine years,
or twelve, they've extended it so much. However, it was only three years then, so the
committee members went to the various stations and looked at their licenses and found out
how many Hispanics they had working for them. They found that there were hardly any
Hispanics at all, on or off the camera.
So they came in and they went over the whole thing again and
talked about strategies to approach the problem. There was another group in Washington
D.C. that was even stronger than the group that we had identified initially. It was called
"Citizens Communication" and they had attorneys helping them. Also, the United Church of
Christ was much involved in communications at that time too. So CRS paid for some people
from Citizens Communication to come in to Denver and to explain how they could help the
Denver group, what they could do for them. Then they returned to Washington to begin
preparing some documents -- they already had a boiler plate of something they could do.
In the meantime the group had a conference on mass media in Denver. So they ended up with
two conferences -- one followed the other. At the second one they broadened the constituency
group: the Indian group came into it and the black group came into it. The first conference
was primarily Hispanic. Because they're the ones who were leading it. By the time of the
second conference, the larger group was about ready to file a complaint. By then it was a
mixed group -- even the American Indian movement was there. We had it at one of the colleges
there in Denver. So we had a large group and a lot of publicity on it and the Colorado
Broadcasters Association became concerned. They even had their own meeting, saying who
are these people, and what are we going to do, because they're really beginning to challenge us.
Sure enough, we did file a lawsuit. That happened because one company was going to
purchase five stations and there's something in the law that one company can't dominate the
media. That company had publications and everything else, and now they were trying to
purchase five radio stations too. One was in Denver, and that was the wrong place to choose it,
because we had the media group really going strong then. They were also purchasing one in
San Diego, one in Bakersfield, one in Indianapolis, Indiana and one other place that I don't
recall. But our group, along with Citizens Communications challenged the purchase of these
stations and filed complaints against these stations for their lack of minority participation. And
we also filed a case saying that the company could not purchase five stations, they could
purchase three. We won; the court went along with it.
From that time then, all the stations began to open up and say, "Well what can we do?" What
happened with the company, is they only bought three stations, not five. Also they identified a
person who coordinated their activities with our Colorado committee. That coordinator became
like a spokesman for them, and he provided resources to the Colorado committee. So he
became a little more knowledgeable about what was going on in the stations.
In the meantime the stations formed Hispanic committees, and black Committees, and the TV
stations did too. All those established committees and they would meet with those committee
people and they would foot the bill for everything. Those committees began to explain what
their priorities were what their objectives were for changing the media in Colorado to be
These were made up of citizens?
Citizens of the minority groups. I thought that was great -- and that's why you saw all sorts
of changes all of a sudden. There were programming changes and personnel changes and so
on. I still don't think they did as much as they could've done, but nonetheless they got
something done. And they got results and even though CRS didn't mediate, per se, they
provided enough resources and enough consultants to educate the committee. And the
committee, since they were agency people, understood it quickly and moved quickly on it.
So this is another instance where CRS empowered the local citizens to help themselves.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Yes. Well you don't really go in trying to empower a particular
group. You may unwittingly go in and say, "Hey, look, this is what's going on and here's a way
can be better off," if that's perceived as empowering. You want to teach and you want to provide
knowledge if you can. So in some instances, that would be empowering. You have to remember
some prisons are not going to allow you in there -- especially Federal prisons because they're on
level that you are, the Department of Justice. If they don't want to see you in their prison, they're
going to let you in there. Other times, I wasn't allowed into Bureau prisons.
So when you did empowerment on various levels, how was
your work affected by issues of neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity? Were those things that
were at the
forefront when you did this?
Let me just stop you right there by saying, number one, you use the wrong word.
Really, we didn't go around and try to empower anybody. We were out to try to mediate and
come up with strategies that would speak to certain issues that would, in turn, provide the tools
to become empowered themselves. We might also try to have the officialdom at hand to work
and work together with the community or the group that was having a problem to the point where
could be some empowerment. As far as us sitting down and saying, "We're going to place this
you hands," we don't do that.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Before you were able to put it all together in a nice training session,
provided any type of training for the parties who were in conflict, like immediate training?
Sitting down with
them, saying, "This is the way mediation works?"
I did that several times. I don't know how effective it turned out to be, because you have
things turn over, sometimes people may not want to embrace what you've done. And then there's
times, someone may say, "Hey, this is a good idea. We may want to keep this."
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Did you find yourself wanting to do
anything to strengthen the parties' capacities to deal with the conflict, or did they pretty much do
They really did that themselves. The great fortune here is that this had time to run it's
course. It didn't happen in two visits. It just took a life of it's own. That administration was very
poorly run and bright inmates helped the administration figure it out. So there really was very
little need. The one time I felt intervention was needed was with the Hispanic inmates. They
were just waiting and waiting for their kiln and their room, and they started with six of them and
two of them went home. In the preliminaries, Martinez met with them to bolster them and
encourage them. With the Indians too, who could relate to them? You really need a person of
color in that setting to maximize your credibility, or to get as close as you can to build something.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
There was an incident and the local NAACP president was a part
of the group and then the president of the bank was the other major leader. I mean, the group was
bigger than just those two people, but they were a part of it. The police chief was, too. It had
started over police stuff. Six months after the incident with the banker, a young black man had
come home one afternoon and told his mother that someone had kidnapped him and tried to hang
him. They went to the police department and the police chief couldn't find anything to support
what the boy was saying. But he also knew he couldn't go to the community and just say, "I don't
have anything." He had established a rapport with the president of the NAACP and had
established a trusting relationship. He went to him and said, "You've got to help me, I don't
know what to say. I can't find any evidence and I know we're going to have another problem if I
just come out and say that I can't find anything to corroborate the boy's story." So the NAACP
president went with him, and they went to talk to the boy and the mother again. The short of the
story was that the young man had lied, that he had skipped school and he knew the only thing
that was going to save him from his mother's wrath was a really good story. Well, that wouldn't
have come out if the police chief didn't have rapport with somebody in the black community,
someone who trusted him, someone who knew that he wasn't trying to cover something up.
Because of that trust, that incident didn't become an incident. But you can't sell that. That
success is long-term. That's where the success is, as far as I'm concerned, because my hope is
that there's instances like that all over Oklahoma and Texas where people are going to each other
and avoiding incredible hurt and disaster. Hopefully they've learned they can trust each other.
That was one of those things where it confirms that it was worth the 6 months I spent there.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Yes. We had what was called the Annual Appraisal of Racial
Tension, and then I put together a program orienting people on how to use it, how to score it, and
what to look for. New employees could look at that and say, "Here are the things that I need to
look at. Here are the elements that I need to look for. Does the community have confidence in
those systems? Systems could be there, but if they don't have confidence in them, they might as
well not be there. So now we need either an educational program, or the system's redesign. It
could be just a matter of education. It may be a legitimate, viable, confident system, but the
community hasn't been educated on how to use it. Or, it may be a ruse, where they don't really
intend for them to use it. So you have to address that. It was a very good method, but many of
the old-timers resisted it because it seemed to push them into something, when in fact, it was just
a reflection of what they were doing. But they thought someone was trying to tell them how to
do their job. The truth was, it was just a description of how they had been doing their job.
And maybe the fault there was our role in educating them in what we were doing and
how it came about. I was real new, so I didn't have any input there. I was just doing what they
asked me to do, the political part of it. But at that point, I didn't know what the political impact
on the other conciliators would be.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
How much do you read when you're trying to delve into this with these groups? Do
you let them explore on their own, or do you ask them leading questions? How directive are
I'm really not directive in the content. I'm directive in how they interact, as far as not letting
them take each other on. I try to get to talk about their own issues without talking about the other
groups. I don't try to lead them into discovering their issues. Before I got into this, I was
finishing up a PhD in Adult and Continuing Education. The philosophies of adult and continuing
education are very compatible with peace making. The core value there is the adult knows what
the answer is, and it's the teachers responsibility to help them discover it. And I had students in
class with me say, "We really are the experts, right?" The teacher will correct them and say,
"No." You're an expert helping them discover. And I believe that, I believe whole-heartedly in
education. I think my role is to help them discover, and I'm good at that. Part of that is because
as strong as I feel about my own answers for my own questions, they will not be helpful to them.
It may be a great answer, but it's not their answer. And whatever answer they come up with is
going to be better then mine. I believe that. So I think those two disciplines really have
cemented my commitment to the fact that my job is to help you discover and to create a safe
environment. That is a critical element, I think. You can't discover and you can't explore if
there's not safety. We shut people down real quickly when there's not a safe environment. So I
try to honor that. I will give guidance and ideas when people are having trouble formalizing.
People realize that everybody in this situation can be empowered and nobody is going to be
diminished by it. They realize that by involving the minority community in decision making, it's
not going to diminish the power of the establishment, it's going to enhance that environment. To
me there is nothing more exciting than to see people actually start to believe it, because that's
what keeps them from cooperating, everybody believes they're going to lose control. You have
to create an environment where they can see that cooperative efforts enhance everybody. They
want that. It just takes such a burden off everybody.
So what do you do if the person says, "We want to fire the superintendent?"
That's not our role. We'll look at that the problems your having with the school district, why
you think the superintendent needs to be fired, but the decision about whether of not the
superintendent keeps his job is the board’s decision.
So do you try to get them to define more exactly what the problems are and then try to
propose some other solutions?
Right. "What is going on that makes you believe firing the superintendent is going to
change anything?" "Well, because none of our school kids can ever sing in the school choir. Not
one of our children have ever been invited to sing in the school choir." And that's just one part of
that coaching stuff. "Firing the superintendent is not something we can deal with. Let's talk
about where your concerns are." "My daughter was valedictorian and it was taken away from
her, and the superintendent didn't support us." Now you have a specific issue. You can go back
and start looking at how that decision was made.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
power being a factor? Do you have to provide some way where they can maintain power? We
sometimes talk about the difference between 'power with' and 'power over.' Is there any way to
have power with instead of power over?
I would interchange that with what I just said about honor and put power in there. Before,
the power, the only way they perceive themselves as having any influence is by 'power over.'
You've got to create a new picture for them that they can buy into, and that's 'power with,' that
still has honor and influence. If you try to diminish them and their influence, it won't work. So if
you can reorient their paradigm to see that they have more influence inside the group and they
can make a difference here. "You've had an incredible influence on this community. What
you've done has made an incredible difference for these people, for the change in working
relationships. Let's look at it a different way. You can still have influence. You're very
important to this process." Many of them will see that and come along, if you'll help them create
that new picture. That's one of the gifts of the third party. You don't have anything to win or
lose, so they're not looking at you as a vested interest. Nobody else can play that role because
everybody else is suspect. But yes, I think everybody has to have a position of honor and have
some sense of personal empowerment.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
It occurred to me last night, that there's one aspect immediately following the mediation
at this island case that I thought was significant. It was the way the announcement was made to
the community. I thought it was unique. The parties, after the mediation, and the pastor of the
United Church of Christ suggested that we have an open house at his church and invited
everybody from the community. This would be the white community and the non-Indian
community, that's where the concerns were. They were all supportive that the community go
along with this. Anyway, we had an open church a few days after the agreement was signed and
had a very good turnout in terms of attendance.
The procedure that we went through was that the key persons on both sides had a meeting
together, had an explanation of what the grievance was, and people could ask questions and so
on. After that, it became very informal and they had cake and coffee and that sort of thing and
broke up into small groups and there were Indian tribal members chatting with residents and vice
versa for the first time really, especially those who were most concerned about what had been
I happened to notice that there was one person, shall we say Subject A? If you remember, he
was one of the person's who had more complaints about this person than anyone else that I came
across. I couldn't help but notice that he was off in a corner with three men standing around him,
and he was talking with them and showing them something. I couldn't see what it was and I had
to look over his shoulder. This was a copy of the Bolt decision that he had somehow gotten a
hold of. And it was all underlined with these parts and he was saying, you see, they have a right
to come under our property. Now that is just as significant a part of mediation I think as the
negotiations at a table. What the people at the table do at the wake of it. They've got the job of
convincing their constituencies. We must never lose sight of that, empowering those people and
each side needs to be aware of those needs, it works both ways. Later on, this same individual
was sitting on his porch and noticed across a neck of the lake a tribal fisherman over there,
somebody on the dock who looked like they were having some kind of problems, he couldn't tell
what it was. This guy wasn't young and he wasn't in good health, but he gets in his rowboat,
rows as fast as he can clear across the bay, and intervenes and sorts it out and works out
whatever the problem was. That again is involvement in this way.
At the subsequent meetings, before the next season started, those became very important people
to tell their experiences and reinforce this kind of positive action. As they looked forward to
relating this, they became a reference group of those involved in the review of their decisions.
The persons involved in those joint meetings later moved on, tribal leadership changed and so
on. Tribal Fisherman Patrol chief became police chief in another reservation. These follow up
meetings helped to perpetuate the original understandings and most importantly working
relationships, regardless of what's on paper. That's what producing the paper and producing the
agreements created, working relationships. Those small joint committees focused on a purpose.
That's what creates the working relationships. In other words, mediation sessions are just the
beginning. There were people in CRS, when I would relate stories like this, who would say, "Oh
no, that's not mediation. When you finish up your mediation sessions, signed, you're out of there
and that's it." That's a philosophy practice. To me, I think it's the human relations, in addition
to the human rights involved, they're equally important.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Are there any other kinds of situations where
mediation's not appropriate?
I don't know. I think it's probably useful in more ways than are generally thought of. I think
it can be used to provide leadership in a community. You may have incidents that are occurring
in a community, where there's no specific party involved, but mediation would work rather than
leaving it as strictly a law enforcement matter.
There was one mediation case I had at an alcohol rehabilitation program. Unidentified persons
were stoning and breaking windows out of this alcohol rehabilitation program, which was a state
run program, but the community was primarily the minority. And who they were doing it to and
why they were doing it was not known. There was no specific set of demands from anybody,
nobody knew why it was being targeted, but apparently a number of people were involved.
Community tensions were being aroused by the continued incidents that were occurring, and I
was able to arrange a meeting between some of the minority community leadership in that area,
the administrators, and county and local administrators of that program, to come up with a joint
statement to the community. But, it was in the form of a mediation agreement. It was signed
and released to the press. The pre-amble stated the value of this program to this community, and
community leaders were affirming this. The institutional officials were stating that they wanted
to be sensitive to community needs, but we need to know what they are and urge people to come
forward and so on. That was a very minor, small scale kind of case, but I think it's one in which
many people would say for an institution to be targeted for vandalism, that's not a mediation
case. But I think it is possible in some circumstances, maybe somewhat like that, to provide
mediation. Providing a joint voice to the community, that would help to provide standards of
behavior or would work to secure such.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict?
Well, I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines. I might also expound on how
they might comply with these or fulfill these, or react to these in the mediation. But I know that
for some mediators before mediation starts they'll have training sessions with one of the other
parties on how to negotiate, and I've never done that. I felt like it could be difficult to my image
of impartiality. I would always try to do the same thing to both sides, and let each of them know
that I was doing this. We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process
where you ended up in a training session, but that's a little bit different from what you were
We talked yesterday about the training that was given to police officers. How did that come
Well, we arranged for that. You didn't ask this question but I'll answer it anyway. When
have a minority group that has limited resources and had problems with, for example an
institution that has a lot of resources. When you get down to the point of fashioning an
agreement, the last thing you want is for one side (it's usually the institution) to commit itself to
doing all the things and the other party not committing itself to doing anything. So when you
have this situation where your minority resources are limited it taxes the brains of everybody
when they're trying to fashion an agreement and think in terms of each other. What can we work
out that would help you, where you could help us do these things. Cross-cultural training was an
area that seemed to fit into this, so that you know that is one area. Another one was the idea of
promotion of careers in say, the criminal justice area. The minority community might be
alienated especially by the conflict they are dealing with and would not entertain such thoughts.
But if you have leadership that are urging people to get into this area and we will help you fill
out an application for employment or maybe they could generate a scholarship or that sort of
thing, it's a way of trying to balance the commitments.
I just realized when you spoke with us before I was misinterpreting the term promotion, I
thinking about moving up in rank.
That too, well in the area of affirmative action. I was referring to both the recruiting and
promotions of the existing officers so they have a model they can see that it's that there is a
future. It's important for them to be able to see this.
But the other sense of the word was that the minority community would try to get people to
come into police work.
Promote careers in that professional vocational area.
When you provided typical assistance to one group did you always inform the other group
that you were providing technical assistance to the other group?
Yes, I tried to be open and equal in how I would treat each of the parties. I don't remember
any obvious instances where I either did this unintentionally or was accused of that sort of
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Any key lessons we're missing here?
There's one conciliation case among the Nez Perce Indians in Northern Idaho and the State
Department officials of Idaho. There was one summer where there was a confrontation between
the younger travel fisherman who traveled a hundred miles off the reservation to a site near a
state hatchery. Anyway, a confrontation had developed and I knew that it was pending. The
confrontation had developed as the Indian camp, which was along the side of the river, was
invaded by the state department fishers and a forestry specialized team. I won't call it a swat
team, but it was a specialized and very mobile team, trained and well-armed of enforcement
There were about thirty Native Americans, or tribal members, in the encampment in all. Men,
women, and children. About a dozen members of this swat team would make sweeps through
the village, looking for illegally caught salmon that was not in season. These sweeps would
occur at any hour of the day or night, without warning. The agents would go into teepees and so
on. This created a lot of tension. I was there, sort of on the sidelines, because these operations
had been set up and planned in Boise, well in advanced of the season, when the fishing opened
and the run began.
One time, when they made the sweep, the Indians chased them out of the village with clubs, not
firearms. But, they were chased up the hill to the road where the truck of the troopers was there
to pick them up. This was all on foot. Well, as they approached the truck, the Nez Perce Indians
caught up with them and cut them off from accessing the trunk. They had their cars parked in
this area, the tribal members did, and they were unlocking the trunks, but not opening them.
Several obvious guns were in there and it was clear that they were on the verge of a firefight.
The state enforcement officers had shotguns and they began to chamber their weapons. They
were almost surrounded and backed up against their truck. The Indians were moving in on them,
shouting, with clubs. With the weapons that were obviously there, I felt that when it came down
to it, the last resort was that I had to walk over between them and tell them to stop. "Somebody's
going to get killed here, and none of us want bloodshed if it can be avoided. Tom, I want you to
select one or two persons. And Bill, I want you to select one or two persons with you, and in
two hours from now, I want you to meet me over at my motel. We're going to work out an
alternative to settling this thing. In the meantime, you have your people turn around and go back
that way, and you have your men get in that truck and go back to your camp." And it worked.
A couple of hours later that evening, we worked out an agreement that would establish a process
that they were willing to follow in establishing communication and in inspecting the camp.
They were calling it a sweep, but it was "inspecting the camp" for these purposes. "It will be
done at these reasonable hours. And when you approach, you will wait until one of these
designated persons comes to meet you and escort you through." And that seemed to defuse the
There was a television camera team on-site from Boise, that filmed the confrontation. The
governor saw it that night on the evening news, and he sent his legal representative up. There
were some state patrolmen involved there, too. Highway patrol. The governor has authority
over highway patrol, but not the Commission of Fish and Game. He had no authority over them,
but he sent legal council of the state department of law enforcement up by helicopter that night,
and it landed in the field out there. There was a big stir and he had the captain in charge of that
state patrol unit order them back to the barracks. He did not want the state troopers providing
support for the fishery enforcement personnel. The legal council of the tribe, and the legal
council for the state department of law enforcement, and the tribal chairman, and I got a group
together representing both sides. Together, we realized that we did not know what the law
provided and what the law did not provide.
We decided to meet at the University of Idaho, at the Law School, and have a conference and
invite representatives of other tribes. It would be co-sponsored by the Department of Justice
Community Relation Services, Nez Perce tribe, State Department of Idaho, law enforcement of
Idaho, and the Law School. We had about a two day conference, Indian Law and Jurisdiction
was the title that we gave it. Other tribes sent some people in, because they had similar
problems. Not necessarily fishing, but traffic control on the reservation. That was very
successful in establishing a collaborative approach. This developed relationships, trust building,
and so on.
The following year, instead of meeting at the university, we went to Spokane. There's a large
convention hotel, and we had 300 or more people attending from all over the Northwest. Some
were there from other parts of the country, experts on Indian Law and Jurisdiction, conducting a
seminar on fishing and other law enforcement jurisdictions. It was very successful. That all
grew out of that. Guys involved in that confrontation jointly sponsored Native American and
official agencies. That model was unique in the country. You've had one party or the other
holding these conferences at universities while we're here, but not a jointly sponsored,
That was also the model that we used in the Northwest Coalition. Officials and Civil Rights
Groups together, making a collaborative program, and forming approaches to those hate issues.
The same thing in these Native American fishing issues. Both of them were unique and there
had not been that kind of joint collaborative effort in either area previously. Well hey, I didn't
realize it was going to get into all of that, but some of these, which may seem to be a little, fairly
limited, area of mediation will channel conflict to the table. At the table, we don't have it all
here either. "We better involve some other resources and do something." It kept growing and
growing until it developed to that scale, and a lot of that seemed to put a cap on a lot of those
confrontation issues. The sponsorship in the second of those Indian Law Jurisdiction
conferences was very broad, with the Northwest Tribal Law Enforcing Association, the State
Department of Law Enforcement, for 2 or 3 states, the Northwest Indian Treaties, the Northwest
Indian Tribal Council and so on. They were authorities from all over the
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Did you do that by providing any type of training or other technical
We said we would assist with some training that they were doing for street cops and ended
not doing it. I don't even recall why. Our input was emphatic on the need for training not just of
crowd control, or those technical kinds of things, but in how you effectively interact with people
who are culturally different from you for example. How to better communicate with people.
Those kinds of things, more the touchy-feely stuff as opposed to technical definitive kinds of
Did they welcome your input when you say that touch feely type stuff that law enforcement
not generally used to? Did they welcome that part or was there any sort of uneasiness about that
Well there wasn't any uneasiness about it.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
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.