When you perceived a significant power imbalance did you try to level the playing field? How did you do this?


Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you retain your impartiality while helping to level the playing field, or prepare the parties for negotiation?

Answer:
We identified neutrality (impartiality) as part of the process and a part of the services that we provide. We began using the word impartiality, if my memory again serves me, at about the late 1980's when we began to focus more on table negotiations and looking more at written negotiations. Up until that time, we were doing shuttle diplomacy. We've always felt very comfortable about what we were doing and we had that innate ability to maintain neutrality with both parties. It is only when we looked at it more deeply and we were looking at table negotiations we decided that it's really not true that we're neutral. You're neutral for the process, but you bring certain skills and talents and in certain cases, even your race, and that cannot be neutral. What we say in our training is that if you put a vehicle in neutral, it doesn't go anyplace. It's only when you put it in reverse or put it up on drive that it goes. So, we have a history on this issue. In table negotiations, we explain to the parties that if at any one time they feel that we have crossed the line of impartiality in any way whatsoever, then they need to point that out to us. Once we do that, it doesn't come into the picture that often, or if it comes into the picture, it is on a one-on-one basis. Because they happen to have a different agenda. And so, we're able to quickly learn that it was not our impartiality that was an issue. It was something else that was an issue.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
I appreciate the effort. You mentioned something a few minutes ago about leveling the playing field and you can talk more generally now. You don't have to stick with the Olympic case. How did you handle situations or how did you level an unequal playing field?

Answer:
I don't necessarily view that as my role every time. There may be times when I don't consider that to be a significant factor but if I want to try and level it and I think that's something that a mediator should be doing in this particular case, then there's a number of ways you can do that. One of the ways you can do just that is you can communicate nonverbally your support for the person who is on the low end of the playing field. There are a number of little tricks you or things that you can do like the use of body language to send a message that will indicate something to someone. It creates the appearance that I'm on this person's side and I'm here to help them, so you're not just dealing with that guy now your dealing with maybe two.

Question:
For example, non-verbal?

Answer:
Oh, moving physically closer to the person, having eye contact with them but not with the other person. Not that I don't want to look at them, not that I'm afraid to look at them because they are not important enough to look at. Anytime you start doing these body language things, you have to know what the hell you're doing. You have to be able to do this, but you learn to do that. By using pitch and inflection, you know sort of like talking more calmly and rationally and an even tone to the person you're trying to help. More aggressive and louder with the person, you are trying not to help. You know, there are all kinds of things you can do by using body language, and even by using tonality and inflection and those kinds of things. Another thing you can do in terms of leveling the playing field is to do some caucusing. You have to be very careful here that you don't screw up the neutrality of the way you're doing this, but what you do is try and direct the person who hasn't made it up to the level of the field, try to get them thinking in terms of how they can improve their position. You might recommend that they read something or they do something, or that they check into something. You don't tell them to do it, you just say this is something you might want to think about. It's usually best to do that by throwing out something else also, here's another option that you might want to consider. So, you're not telling them here's one thing to consider, you're telling them, here's 2 or 3 things to consider, so that there's options on the table. But you use the caucus period to point that person in the direction that's going to help them. When you caucus with the other side you know you're doing something that's not the exact opposite but what you do is you try to get them to lighten up a little bit. Or you can let them know in a subtle or maybe not so subtle ways that you know what's going on, and as a mediator because you're neutral you may not be able to do anything about it directly but I want you to know that I know kind of thing. The playing field doesn't necessarily have to be completely level, it's just the system, the process works better when it's level, and generally speaking I feel better about what's going on when it's relatively level. When it's relatively level then if somebody hurts themselves in the process, it doesn't bother me as much because they were both about the same level, and if they screwed up, I can't do everything all the time, but it should be a level playing field.

Question:
So you said that when you see a large discrepancy in the power you feel the need to sort of level the field, as level as it can be, that's relatively speaking, but what are those specific things that you're looking for that tells you that this group is not on the same level?

Answer:
Well, I don't know what to say here, as reluctant as I might be to make assumptions, I think you can generally assume a community group that's not really associated with a national organization. They're working at a hindrance when they're dealing with officials who have tax dollars, and all the time in the world because that's their job. The officials have access to data, and very likely although not exclusively, but very likely they are better educated. They just gain common sense, it just kind of tells you that officials are in a better position than our community leaders. Now if you're talking about a NAACP even though that chapter might be unsophisticated. When you're coming out of rural Arkansas, you know, they're not that well educated, they just don't have the sophistication level, because they've never had the opportunity that the mayor, the chief of police and all these people have. But what they do have is their organization, so they can bring in the legal defense plan. Even though that young group there is unsophisticated and may not be at the same level, they have a support mechanism they can bring people that were not on their level of playing field, and bring them up to power.

Question:
So in those cases did you sit back and let the community group access their resources and work with the flow?

Answer:
I may be different than a lot of people, but here is how I view some of the stuff. I take a very clear view that if you're going to raise an issue, then you need to know what you're talking about. If all you have is a high school education and the mayor's got a law degree, that doesn't necessarily make the playing field uneven. But, if you're a community organization or a community group, if you're going to raise an issue then you better have done your homework. My job as a mediator is not to do your homework, or do your work for you. My role is very simple, I'm just here to help you try and figure out what the answer is, I'm not going to come up with the answer, I'm just going to help you figure out how to do it. I expect if people want to raise an issue, then they're prepared to raise it and defend it. So, generally speaking I don't feel a great need to level the playing field. When I feel the need to level the playing field is when clearly I'll just stick with the example of obsidian community organizations. Clearly the city is acting in appropriate ways, that's not my job, my job is not to let that guide me because that takes me out of my usual stance, but I'm not stupid, I can see the writing on the piece of paper.

Question:
QUESTION UNKNOWN

Answer:
Because I know that that's happened and I want to maintain my neutrality. How do I do that? Well, the way I do that is by very indirectly coming to assistance of the community group to bring them up to where the playing field is level. I see that as a role of a mediator. I think we should have as level a playing field as you can get. Everybody should be starting at about the same place. So when I see that that needs to take place and I think that's a legitimate function. I mean it's an "iffy" kind of thing, cause you're still trying to maintain that neutrality and see if everybody's helping somebody else. There are times when it's just got to be done.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The police, they had a curfew and the police have a way of enforcing curfews among black folk. white folk can go on about their business uninterrupted, right? And yet the police run around, and every time they see a black, a car with a lot of blacks in it, they are running up there questioning that. Sticking their shot guns in the window and these kinds of things that provoke not only mistrust, but great anger. So I had to tell the governor, Rockefeller, at the time, and I said, "Governor, tonight I want you to go out in the black area with me." Naturally the rest of the staff hit the ceiling. "The governor go out there?" I say, "yeah, I'm out there and I don't know anyone more important than me." I said, "I want the governor to see how the police are conducting themselves." I said, "no mind can tell him, can describe what he's got to see. I'm not asking him to go out unprotected, his cars going to be, I'm sure, packed up with police in there. There's going to be a police car in front of him, unmarked I hope and one behind him. The governor just must see what's going on." And sure enough, he came out that night and I got in the car with him. And right in front of us was a group of blacks, five of them, who were hospital workers, right? They had a need to be coming through there. They lived in there and they got off at the hospital at 11:30 that night. So, the police immediately acted like they were criminals and violators after the curfew. The police stopped the car and, in a storm trooper kind of way, made them get out of the car, and you could hear the language, which was foul. They were called n*****s and all of that. I said, "Do you hear that governor? Do you see what I'm talking about?" He was so incensed the next morning he called together the chief of police, the head of the national guard unit, and all of those. He said, "Ozell persuaded me to get out," you see they didn't know, until then, that the governor was out in the field. Said, "Ozell persuaded me to go with him last night and I was so incensed! I just want you to know that your conduct out of there is just wild, and uncontrolled, and unnecessary." The mayor was there and he said, "Mr. Mayor, let me tell you one thing. I will take over this city. Ozell now told me there was a curfew and telling you and seeing it is a different matter. I will take over this city so quickly it will get you swimming in your head. Now I don't want any more conduct in that manner. I'm going to have the state police all out there where you are. Everybody is going to be reporting to me every 15 minutes, every time you stop a car I want to know what happened." And he talked about it, said, "Well, that group was one man and three women coming from the hospital," and they ran over there and stuck their guns in the window and made them get out of the car and were treated in such a way that nobody would want his wife treated. I am incensed by the whole thing." And the whole police methods changed after that. So I just go around describing it.

Question:
Was that a long lasting kind of change?

Answer:
Yes, because after the crisis was over the governor was insisting upon it.




Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So how do you deal with the notion that -- again, this is another thing taken out of the literature -- that in order to be successful in mediation, the parties have to be of relatively equal power. So what’s commonly done is mediators will work to empower the low-power group, and I’m hearing you say that you do that to a degree, but that can then cause problems with the other side.

Answer:
Well, it happens in the very beginning. Typically the way that happens in CRS and most other kinds of mediation where there’s this huge dis-equilibrium of power – and the same thing can happen in organizations, for example – is that you do your power-balancing in the beginning of the process. Let’s sort of walk through a typical process: you come into a community, you meet with the leadership in the community, then you meet with the so-called establishment side, the local officials, the business people, and the first thing they say to you is, "So who have you met with on the community side?” and so you say, "Well, I’ve met with so and so." They say, "Ah. A, B, and C is fine, but D and E.....those guys or those people -- known troublemakers, can’t have them involved in the process.” So right from the very beginning, there’s an attempt, even before you’ve gotten into the formal sessions, to discredit people who, in fact, could be the people who could redress the balance of power in a setting, because they know they don’t want those people there. They don’t want the balance of power. So I think the job of the conciliator or the intervener, just to think of a more neutral term, speaking of neutrality, is to convince the powers-that-be that if they really want this to be a successful outcome, without defining what success is at this point -- because you don’t want to do that -- then they need to be here. "You need to allow us to do our work, to make sure that the discussions stay on an even keel. We can’t promise you that there won’t be some explosions from time to time, but you know, you’re going to have to be prepared to deal with some of this if it happens." So, there was that aspect of it, right from the very beginning. And then, running throughout most interventions, you could say that at the beginning, but there would be these kinds of recidivist fall-backs to the same kind of attempt to slowly disempower people that they didn’t want to be at the table. Either in this particular forum, or others. Something that we don’t give enough credit to in general, is that parties in disputes or conflicts are pretty sophisticated. We think they look only at these particular issues, but in many cases, people in communities are thinking about, "What are the implications of this as an outcome for future relationships?” And read into that, "future power relationships.” So if they’re successful in this issue, we know that coming up next year there’ll be a bond issue about such-and-such. So they’re looking way down the line, in some cases much further than the mediator is. They’re looking at externalities that the mediator is not even seeing. So I think that the mediator then has to be able to constantly work to be able to do that. There are several techniques that the mediator, or the intervener, has with which to empower the low-power party. I think that the idea that CRS came in – if not explicitly, then certainly implicitly – to redress the power was certainly known by everyone. But the very fact that parties were being brought to the table, metaphorically and literally, was in fact a kind of equalizing of the power. Jim Laue had an expression, as a tap-dance around this issue of advocacy, by saying that he was "an advocate for the process”, remember that? Well, if you strip away the veneer, you see what he’s really saying. He’s an advocate for social change. If the process is going to bring about social change, then there’s the connection.....

Question:
How did this play with the white communities? Did it generally work?

Answer:
It depended. It really depended. Then again, in the social science field there’s a tendency to sort of demonize white communities. You know, "They’re all one thing or the other”. Well, the truth of the matter is that so-called white communities are fairly diverse in and of themselves. So the fact that you have a white leadership in a community, probably Republican, is supposed to mean, in the popular conception, that these are people who adhere to all the kinds of things that are an anathema to your perspective. You know, they’re right-wing people, they’re conservatives, they’re against affirmative action, so you just name a litany of things and that’s where they are. Well, if you got into these communities, what you began to discover was that when people live their lives in these communities, they articulate a different kind of perspective. It becomes a matter of, "We have to get through this particular situation.” So in some instances, you find some white leadership adhering to that kind of popular line, but on the other hand, you also find whites who say, "You know, we know this change is coming. It’s going to be inevitable; we have face up to this. We may not like it, but our children are going to grow up in this town, and we need to find a way of dealing with it.” It didn’t necessarily mean that they were ready to give away the proverbial shop; it’s just that these realizations and recognitions were there, and a good intervener would find a way to capitalize on that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Some of the 32 would participate as observers behind the table, but if they wanted to speak, they could move up to the table. That gave us workable numbers at the table. We then conducted the elections which were absolutely wonderful. The greatest leadership qualities came out in some of these cellblocks. Young men encouraging their fellow inmates to participate, "This is your chance to have a word, a say on how this place in run,” they implored. We found that the prison residents wanted more then anything else, to get out of the box, and this election would give them the chance to get out of their cells. Also, they want to confront "the man." They were going to sit across the table. They were going to elect their representatives, they were going to caucus, set up agendas. They all finally came together when we had everything set. They had the elections, paper ballots, the whole bit. It worked. The place was just running like a top at this point. There was a high level of anticipation and then the group started working on their agendas.



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What about in the context of the case? Do you do any training, especially with a minority group, in order to somewhat level the playing field?

Answer:
I would talk to the establishment and the minority group about learning how to clarify issues, and begin to strategize. I'll coach and train them. I'll sit in private with them, in kind of a teaching mode, and explain to them how to respond to a system and get what you need in a productive way. If you're going to do some destructive things, you can do that on your own. If you want to be productive, then I want to help you with that. A lot of the coaching, teaching, and technical assistance was not behind the scenes because I made sure everyone knew I was doing that. It wasn't undercover, I wasn't sneaking around and helping. Some of the establishment people weren't any more sophisticated about the issue than the community groups were, so I'd do the same thing for them. Generally, the issues were being generated out of the community because the establishment says they don't have any problems. The teaching and the coaching on the establishment side was to help them understand the dynamic of perception. I didn't feel like I had to make them fess up and say, "Yeah, we violated this rule," or, "We've not done all we can do." If you have to get them to confess, you're not going to get them to the table. If I could get them to say, "Sure, we could do better," then that's what I was after. My next goal is to help them emphasize and say, "We're not doing that. But, if they believe we're doing it, I understand why they're so frustrated." That was my next indication that we were moving in the right direction.

Question:
Can you verbalize how you moved in that way?

Answer:
It took time establishing that trust relationship. The community would be saying the same thing, "They're not going to be fair or honest. They're not going to deal with us with integrity, they never have." To be able to come to some point and say to the community, "They have assured me that they're coming to the table in good faith. Now I'm going to take them at their word. Are you going to at least give it a shot?" The same thing with the establishment. It was a matter of being able to verbalize for the community at first, this is how they feel. "If that happened to you, how would you feel?" "Well, I'd feel awful. But we didn't do that." "Well, I'm not saying you did. But if they believe you did, they feel that." That worked.

Question:
You're doing this before the group meeting?

Answer:
Yes. Right. One of my decisions about whether they were ready to meet at the table was whether or not I could get any glimmer of empathy from all sides, however many sides there were. If I couldn't get some awareness or sensitivity to other party's position, I was reluctant to go to the table. I might continue shuttling back and forth and come up with some kind of an agreement, but if you can't create empathy, you can't have a relationship. Without that, mediation is not going to work. If there's no reason for us to relate, there's no reason for me to empathize with you.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was this a power issue? Did the different perceptions occur because of differing power levels, and if so, what did you do to try to level the playing field?

Answer:
I think power and balance is more than just numbers. And certainly to some extent, just having that translator there was a way to level the playing field. And again, it wasn't just to make sure that everybody understood, but it was also a visible part of putting everybody on an equal level. So it had symbolic value as well as helping with communication. So the symbolism and I'm just saying it was just a gesture, but the gesture itself, aside from the value in communicating and so on, of making sure that nobody has the advantage because of language.

Question:
Was that your recommendation?

Answer:
Oh yes! I wouldn't have done that without a translator. There were perhaps some in the group who could have negotiated even if it had been all English, but the majority of that group would have been at a distinct disadvantage and they would have felt disempowered. So there's no way that you could have done that particular mediation without the translator there. Actually we didn't use caucuses that much, and in some ways I'm surprised because usually this is the kind of setting where I would have expected to use a lot of caucusing. But I prepared everyone ahead of time, so they knew what to expect and weren't just shooting from the hip. That doesn't mean that other issues didn't come up, but at least there was some sense of preparation. So I think that serves to help empower. And I tried very early on in the mediation process to make it clear that I am, in fact, controlling the process. If there's a specific question, I make sure that that's addressed and that's responded to. I make sure that if there is a point that's made that everybody understands it. If I think that somebody might have missed it, make sure that it's either repeated or that the party itself repeats it. Sometimes I will ask questions, not so much because I don't know, but because I think it's important for everyone to hear what the answer is. So I'll do ask. I'm very good at saying, "Call me stupid, but..." Sometimes you can see that one side or the other is puzzled, but you can also see that they don't want to ask. So I'll play dumb at that point and ask the questions that I think they want to ask but won't. I have no problem being the person who needs the information because I just don't understand. So I think all of those help in that particular setting.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Let's talk a little bit more about the issue of power disparity between the parties, and CRS's role as a neutral. Even though you say you are a neutral, you also, in a sense, try to empower the low-power group, do you not? How do you balance that?

Answer:
If you mean how do I justify that, let's start with that piece first. Very easily, because I don't think I can do an effective job of mediating between two parties if there isn't some balance there. So unless I help bring about that balance, mediation won't work. Of course, you can't necessarily assume that because one side is a minority community that it's the powerless community. That's another issue. But let's assume that, in fact, there is a power imbalance. Unless I can help balance that, and empower each party to effectively participate at the mediation table, we're not going to have an effective, successful mediation. So I explain that to the institution and I offer pre- mediation training to both sides. I also use that as a way to help each of the parties identify what their interests and concerns are, and what they hope to get out of this process. Sometimes, that's particularly important for the institution, because they often start out from the perspective of, "Okay, how much do they want, and how much of that are we going to give them?" They rarely think in terms of, "What do we want, and how much of that are we going to get?" The reality is that they usually do want something from the community, so this helps them become aware of that. This is another trust-building mechanism as well because I'm acknowledging that, "You need things too! What is it that you want? What is it that you're looking for?" I want to make sure that both sides are heard and that we can talk about how each side's needs can be met. I also let the institution know that it's in their best interests to have a well-trained, capable party on the other side because it will be easier to deal with and negotiate with them if they are capable. Part of what the institution is afraid of is that they will have a group of ranting, raving maniacs on the other side that they can't communicate with. So part of what I'm providing is some security, some format which is reasonable from their perspective. I may say to the institution, "Now, you understand that party A is angry and they're going to need to express that. But trust me, we're going to get beyond that, and get to problem- solving." So I lay the groundwork for there being some anger. I hate to call it "venting," because to me "venting" sounds too patronizing. I don't want to be allowed an opportunity to vent; I want to be allowed an opportunity to be heard. So, even though the term "venting" might apply, I avoid that word because it does sound patronizing to me. It has undercurrents of, "They're just spouting off, and they really have nothing to say." In most cases they have a lot to say, but they've never been allowed to say it and be heard before.






Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did I ever finish that question about compromise and demonstrations? That was the thing that stands out to me when I think about the Riverside situation. How long did they need to protest to leverage the system to respond versus would the system respond differently if they didn't do a year of demonstrations?

Question:
How do you determine, when working with a group, how to influence leadership and the appropriateness of it as well?

Answer:
Yes. I'm a true believer that eventually we are going to have to get to the table if we are really going to make a change. I think as soon as we move from anger and blame, we're ready. As long as we aren't so emotionally driven we can't do something constructive, then we are ready to move progressively to some kind of dialogue on these issues.

Question:
How do you move the parties then, toward the table, when they are apparently more inclined to stay in protest mode.

Answer:
In many of my police excessive use of force cases, I use the diagrams on where the parties are on the continuum of a traumatic incident and what the expected behaviors are that demonstrate shock, denial, anger, and blame. When you are emotionally driven and are venting you are in demonstrations and marches and so forth. When you have accepted it you are ready to say what can I do to make a difference in the long run. Particularly in excessive use of force cases. I usually go "Look, I understand that we wish that our loved one (Taisha Miller) wasn't killed, that she could still be with us. But unfortunately we need to accept that she won't and that we can't bring her back. But what do you really want to accomplish?" Inevitably communities will say, "We don't want it to happen again." "If you don't want it to happen again, what do we need to do to make a real difference. Do we need to put a system in place to make sure the police are trained right? Do we need to look at these police officers and see that they are reprimanded properly?" All the possible issues that remedy that point. When they are ready to discuss those the issues is after they come to that acceptance, then they are willing to look at the possibilities of constructive prevention on these shootings.

Question:
So you use your chart to drive that point and it works for you?

Answer:
Yes.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I don't have any problems trying to help somebody get through the process by equalizing the playing field and maintain.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Yet in the end, they'd have to accept that the administration was in charge. And they knew that. It's just like when they talk about this bull that the inmates "run the prisons." That's not true, and I don't know who spreads that stuff around. Even the inmates know that's not true, and they tell you. "What do you mean we run the prison? Look at all the guns these guys have. And if those aren't enough, they'll call the National Guard, the Highway Patrol, the resources go on and on." Yet in the end, they'd have to accept that the administration was in charge. So you go in and tell them, "Hey, if they don't want to do certain things, they'll tell you." I saw that as getting them up another notch as compared to the level we felt that maybe the administration was at.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
If I observe that one group is not able to negotiate with another group on a particular level, then we try to bring them up to that level. It'll never occur that they'll be on a really level field, but at least they should understand some of the things that might happen and some of the processes that might take place. Also, you talk to them in terms of the potential for the city or official group to try to buy them and not really do anything to fix the problem. For the most part, whenever I got involved with officialdom, I usually felt that's what they were trying to do. They weren't trying to be of any help.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You just said something very interesting, "You had to work the ethnicity out of it." How do you do that?

Answer:
Very carefully. First of all, by trying to bring equity to the table in terms of numbers -- numbers of the organizations. And one of the things that happened here and it happened in other cities, is bringing back to the table individuals who did not currently have a title with the organization, but had held a title before and were highly respected. We asked them to come to the table and be sort of senior, elder spokespeople and bring unity, and that worked very well.

Question:
Did you try to get equal numbers of each race, or did you try to do something proportionately?

Answer:
I think proportionate to the organizations who actually signed to be members of the coalition.

Question:
And this was open to anybody who wanted to be included?

Answer:
Correct.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

you referred to tremendous power inequity. What did you do and what sort of techniques do you use to make it easier?

Answer:
One of the most powerful white families in Eastern Carolina was the Wilkins family. He also acted as a friend of the court in order to prosecute JoAnn Little. That generated an awful lot of animosity. It already was there because of a tremendous amount of wealth on the land that these people owned. After the trial was over, I got back to the Washington, Buford County area. Her acquittal somehow or another was viewed as a victory and a sense of empowerment to the blacks. So they started holding meetings and one time I said to them, "you know, Mr. Wilkins, it might do well for you to come and listen. You don't have to say anything, just come and listen to these people who are sincere. They're concerned about the school system and about other things here in Buford County. You've just got to listen."

Question:
So you just called him up?

Answer:
Yes. I called him and I told him I was going to be in Washington and I needed to talk with him. He said, "Well, I'll be. I don't have anything on my calendar at such and such a time, come on." From that day on until today -- he's an old man today, but he's different. He had never before been invited to sit and talk or hear what the blacks were saying. In turn, in that part of North Carolina, they had a lot of Mexican day laborers living in dilapidated housing. Even today you can see the difference in the housing they had then and what they have now. Mr. Wilkins employed hundreds on his plantation. The housing that he now provides has air conditioning and everything else. Before some of them were nothing more than old chicken coops that people were forced to live in. He has set a standard. Other whites in that area now see what Mr. Wilkins is doing and they're going to get the message. There were a couple more whites in the area. One family owned a couple of hotels and they start helping a young black get a restaurant started. It used to be that there was one section of hotels which were relegated to blacks. I knew, every time I registered, it was the same section. And you go in the dining room and you have to wait. All that changed. Then you started seeing one or two black state troopers in the area. Different little things. So I thought it might help to show some of this to the richest man in the area. Well, he came and listened and then just said to them afterwards, "You know, I appreciate you all inviting me to come." He said, "Now I heard a lot of things tonight and I am going to look into some of them.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Naturally the point about CRS is that you don't have to be totally neutral to get things accomplished. In other words, you can lean one way and still accomplish a goal. You don't have to be so strict on neutrality that everybody that's looking at you on both sides will say you're neutral. You just go down the road and see what happens. A lot of times when you're working with minority community groups, you have to lean in their direction in order that they then can gain the strength to deal with the problem or to meet the structure over here so they can be effective. I find myself leaning to their side all the time, so they can be stronger when they meet the problem directly. I help them prepare. Otherwise they're back, not prepared.

Question:
How far did you have to lean?

Answer:
I really don't know how far I went, but I guess I leaned enough to get them to accept the assessment process. Because they totally were unaware that we could do that. Some of them knew about a self audit, so I told them it's almost the same thing as a self audit. But they didn't know that an assessment could be made of a police department, that would point out those things that are lacking that might be helpful to the community at large, not only to the police. So I gave them that idea, and then they adopted it as their own. That's leaning in their direction, that's telling them what they could do. So then they went to the chief and said "this is what we ought to do." But in the meantime we had already dropped it on the chief as well. Perhaps he ought to look at that.




Ozell Sutton


 [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.

Question:
Yes, so you are strengthening their capacity.

Answer:
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.

Question:
Hold that place and lets back up to empowerment. What are some techniques that you use to empower community members?

Answer:
Knowledge and know-how-- the ability to assess.

Question:
You taught them that? What did you teach them and how?

Answer:
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 system. 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.

Question:
So knowledge of, as well as involvement in the system is important.

Answer:
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.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But if this group over here is expecting you to be their enforcer, you can forget it. That's the way I see it, at least. You're not going to get anything done. Because they're going to see over here, "Hey. Just what we thought. He's the establishment," or what have you. And then they're going to shut down. Haven't you ever seen that before? They shut right down. So the thing to do is to try to maintain at least some degree of equilibrium, because they're going to test you. They are going to test you, number one, by being loud and aggressive and uncontrollable a little bit, okay? And the establishment isn't going to want to put up with it. Really, it becomes a hassle just getting everybody to the table. Getting these people here, the cops or whomever, you've got at the table. The community group expects to get dumped on and the establishment thinks that this is a bunch of BS because you're meeting with a bunch of savages down here. And when it's over with, that's what they go in and say. And so how do you get some sincerity going on? You want to flush out all of that. In other words, as a mediator, as far as I'm concerned, I'm flushing all of that BS out.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But if this group over here is expecting you to be their enforcer, you can forget it. That's the way I see it, at least. You're not going to get anything done. Because they're going to see over here, "Hey. Just what we thought. He's the establishment," or what have you. And then they're going to shut down. Haven't you ever seen that before? They shut right down. So the thing to do is to try to maintain at least some degree of equilibrium, because they're going to test you. They are going to test you, number one, by being loud and aggressive and uncontrollable a little bit, okay? And the establishment isn't going to want to put up with it. Really, it becomes a hassle just getting everybody to the table. Getting these people here, the cops or whomever, you've got at the table. The community group expects to get dumped on and the establishment thinks that this is a bunch of BS because you're meeting with a bunch of savages down here. And when it's over with, that's what they go in and say. And so how do you get some sincerity going on? You want to flush out all of that. In other words, as a mediator, as far as I'm concerned, I'm flushing all of that BS out.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You’ve talked off and on about empowering the low power groups. Are there any other ways that you do that, that you haven’t mentioned already?

Answer:
I think a large part of our work was empowering, even though we’re doing conflict management, even though we’re helping communities find peace. Our mandate is to help communities to resolve problems, differences, and disagreements. The whole thing is empowerment. You’re bringing a group together, you’re helping them find ways to come together. You’re educating, growing on the experience of the mediator on the scene, and educating people as to how you behave to get better results, helping them understand that you can only get so much based on how much power you have. Helping them understand the factors that go beyond "you.” Mediation really was an education process for people at all levels, from the most sophisticated local leadership to grass roots community members who were trying to boost up their organizations and get things. It isn’t always that way; very often the groups that we would work with would be very sophisticated.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Changing gears completely again, we’ve talked on and off about giving technical assistance to parties. You’ve talked quite a bit about what you would do with the minority parties, but did you bring technical assistance for the majority parties, the authority figures?

Answer:
There was less of a need, but yes, we would put them in touch with counterparts and other communities who had experienced the same things. Sometimes you would do that for your own credibility, but sometimes they would have useful advice for their colleagues. Sometimes you would provide a police chief with firearms policies from other cities, sometimes you would bring a consultant to a police department from another city’s police department. That was very popular. I mentioned that I did that at the Minnesota reformatory. I brought in a corrections commissioner from another state. Sometimes we provide training for either party. You’d work with police or you’d help people put training programs together that would bring the minority community into the training process with police.

Question:
And what about technical assistance for the minority community?

Answer:
Sometimes it was advice based on your experience elsewhere, sometimes it was paper based on things they could be doing or things other communities generated elsewhere. Sometimes it was people, bring in a consultant to work with them. Sometimes it was putting them in touch with people from other communities. That was typically what the technical assistance was comprised of. And sometimes training. I guess you could call the types of things you just do in your day-to-day work technical assistance, even though it wouldn’t be labeled that. It’s helping them sort out their organizational matters when you’ve developed a relationship that enables you to do that.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I had no idea. I just knew nobody told us about it. AIM leader Vern Bellancourt told us "We want someone from CRS to stay down here tonight. We don’t trust them. They’re going to fire in and we want a couple of whites in here." They believed the government would be less inclined to fire into Wounded Knee if whites from the government were there. So we assured them that would happen, and I made plans to spend the night there with Burt Greenspan, a young white conciliator. Doug Hall was there that night, a civil rights lawyer from Minneapolis, who was providing legal counsel to AIM.



Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The mediation team for the community group was totally students of color?

Answer:
Yeah, ALANA.

Question:
Did they have any advisors during this process, the mediation?

Answer:
No advisors, per se, at the mediation sessions. The advisors to the students never manifested themselves directly. The administration had the president and the chancellor, vice chancellor, director of community affirmative action, and the director of student life, and the campus police chief.






Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

One of the things we've been talking about a lot with other people are power disparities between the minority community and the majority community and how CRS helps the minority community build up power. Did you do that in this case?

Answer:
We call it balancing the table so that the table is even and there is recognition about the power and the stature of the parties. Up until then, there was no such recognition. The organizations, individually, did have a lot of history, but collectively, the groups had never come together. I don't believe they had never thought that there might be strength in coming together on this particular issue.

Question:
The key thing that gave them power was bringing them together?

Answer:
Yes. The CRS conciliators spent a lot of time coalescing the community groups. But they did a tremendous job.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

If it's a minority group that feels disempowered, a lot of times, they themselves will say, "We have no power here except the power of numbers, and we're putting ourselves out there." If nothing else they'll put their bodies out. Others in society may call a person with influence, they can call somebody to help them work things through, they can call a congress person, they can call a city official, they can call a city council member, and they speak on their behalf and the problem gets resolved. But sometimes minorities feel that they don't have those resources or those avenues, so they just put themselves out there. We give them access to those environments where decisions are being made or can be made. Access that they didn't have before. If that's empowerment, I don't know, but we're giving them access, they themselves can then negotiate to resolve the problem. For some reason they may have not been able to do this before.



Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
In these cases it also sounds like you spent a fair amount of energy empowering, or identifying resources and doing conciliation work with the people who might be labeled as "victims," the people without the power. Was there that same amount effort spent in building the police up, empowering their community?

Answer:
I don't think that we changed the departments that much, in those two cases that I outlined to you. I do feel that the chief in the small town did a lot of changing, because he's that type of individual. Now the Salt Lake City chief, I don't believe really changed that much. We did not nourish that group to the degree we were nourishing the community group.

Question:
Why not?

Answer:
I don't know whether it was lack of resources, or that we just didn't do it. Sometimes you don't feel comfortable, you don't seem to be getting through, regardless of what you do. You don't seem to be making headway, and if you're not making headway there's other areas that need to be serviced, and you just don't have the time. You don't have the time to go all the way to Salt Lake from Denver to find out that you're not making any headway.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How do you deal with that situation -- by shuttling rather than having them together? Oh. By shuttling you can keep personalities down and out. You have the benefit of not having somebody on the opposite side really be stung by the anger and hostility that might be coming out when you're going across the table. A lot of times, if you're talking to somebody in authority and you don't say things a certain way they may pretend to be fair, but then they still go after you in the end.






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