Were you able to detect when an internal conflict existed within a party that was inhibiting progress?


Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you able to detect any internal conflict that existed within the various coalitions?

Answer:
A lot. Yes. Typical of any group that has not been together, there is initial venting, a lot of agendas of which I had no knowledge, constantly hearing people tell me this individual has this agenda to do this or to do that, and what happens in those meetings and in those types of relationships is that you learn a lot. You're (in this case) the media expert. I learned a lot about the community and the individuals and what they bring to the table very quickly. Sometimes they do indeed have different agendas and because we know more than all of them put together, particularly the dynamics that are going on with the dispute, we're able to convince them to go different routes.




Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

However, we did have to address the conflict with AIM. AIM's main demand of the Navajo people in charge of the big fair, was that they wanted an AIM element to be included in the all important parade that kicked off the fair, and they wanted AIM to be included in the rest of the fair as well. Also, about a week or 10 days later, AIM was planning to hold a big powwow on a ranch within the Navajo reservation which was owned by the grandmother of one of the young AIM men. Hundreds of people from outside the reservation had been invited to this event. The main issue with respect to the powwow was the FBI. Remember, this was only 3-4 months after Wounded Knee, and AIM was very worried that the FBI would disrupt the powwow. Some folks might have felt that this was a real paranoia, but this is how they felt. We talked to the AIM leaders and offered to talk with the FBI. The Navajos have their own substantial police department too, so we got with the Navajo superintendent of police as well. He was a very cooperative guy, open to discussion. He didn't feel there was any substance to AIM's accusations, and everybody else denied it, but the AIM folks were very, very fearful about this. They insisted there had been some over flights and they thought they had seen people hiding in the trees of a nearby mesa, so they thought they were being spied on. They thought somebody was going to come down on their powwow either when it took place or before it took place. I noticed out back of the Navajo police headquarters a couple of helicopters and I got an idea. I called the superintendent and asked what would he think if a couple of the AIM leaders and maybe himself and I took an unannounced flight to check out the area. The superintendent of police and the AIM guys agreed, so one late afternoon, the superintendent and my colleague from CRS and I and at least two of the AIM guys piled into one of these helicopters with a BIA pilot and took off. It didn't seem to me we took off very rapidly, but we got up and circled around the mesa top. The trees were so widely spaced that had there been anybody or any cars or pickups, or any group of people, they would have been clearly visible. But no one was there. Mission accomplished, I thought.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did you ever experience internal tensions or conflicts? How did you address them?

Answer:
There was a woman who was being disruptive at the meetings so the minority group wanted to exclude her. For example, when we had a private meeting with the group, she was objecting to a lot of things in the police response and suggested we should just go in there and walk out. I talked to her and I talked to the group about trying to understand her, because they're blaming her for causing some people to stay away. The group put it on the agenda for the next meeting, and this person walked out of the meeting, I couldn't be with them at that meeting.

Question:
Was she initially part of the group?

Answer:
No, she wasn't. She came in later and she's not a minority person. The group was trying to portray itself as inclusive, so how can you be inclusive if you're going to throw her out? Find ways of working with her. She can contribute. She's extremely smart. She may upset the police chief, the way she says things, but look at the overall contribution that she's making. You'll find that there are more pluses than there are negatives. Just work on educating her as to what approaches she should take.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Anyway, a group of black and Hispanic prisoners got together and wanted to meet with me. We sat down and went over the things they wanted, their concerns. I said, don't call these demands, because you're never going to get a thing if you start talking about demands. You don't demand anything. You're not in a position to demand anything. I spent the night down there and then I wrote down their issues and concerns. I always made them turn things around in a more amicable way. I told them, you can't demand things. I let everybody know that. I said, "You've got some things that you're concerned about, and we can address these issues. Then, maybe we'll be able to maybe effectuate some change. So, why don't we write these things out and work together?" By getting them to write these things out, I was able to ease the tensions among the group members themselves. Because they didn't have to go about fighting somebody from another group or another race, they were going to do each other in, simply because they had a problem with who was going to be the leader in that situation.

Question:
How were you able to detect that internal conflict?

Answer:
Easy. All you have to do is listen. Once you listen to the discussions, you can identify who's hostile and who's not, in most instances, and what their concerns are. Then you come to the conclusion that, "Hey, these guys are not together themselves, so how can they blame anybody else for any shortcomings that may exist?"




Renaldo Rivera


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Have you ever found yourself intervening within a conflict or party? Where one of the parties is split.

Answer:
Yes, I have but it doesn't work out that well. If within a party they are split and they are fighting with each other and you intervene, that's fine. What you're better off doing is getting a third one from that group to help the two that are in conflict process their issues. You are much better off. I've tried it directly, but the focus can come on me so directly, so easily or I can appear to be taking one side or the other because I'm trying to help them to keep their issues on the same table that the one who feels devalued winds up more problematic or not contributing at the full table, at the first table negotiations later. I've found it easier when I have these parties around or when there are problems or when they've called a caucus and they have their differences of views, to try to raise the group process. "I understand what's going on, this is what seems to be happening to me. What do other people think?" That lets the rest of those parties, at least, have input into it and then they'll break off and deal with it most of the time. At least the major part. Then by the time I get to speak to them, an antagonist or protagonist like this, I'll say, "I know that its hard for you and this is difficult, I say can you live with what the other members are saying to you, or is it too difficult to continue and if it is why don't we talk about that some more." It keeps me out of the primary role. In other words the interventions happen without me being in the primary role. It winds up much more effective. I think it takes a little bit more skill around the group process stuff and permitting others to take emerging leadership roles, but it winds up more effective from my experience.

Question:
You said first table is when everyone is at the table. What about "second table."

Answer:
With each of the parties and whatever constituent groups they represent.

Question:
Is that different than a caucus?

Answer:
It's really similar to a caucus. It's that sometimes the people in a caucus also have to go back and talk to their community memberships, so that's why sometimes it's described as second table. Because the caucus doesn't comprise the entire community constituency, it just has representatives.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Often times you have families that make up tribelets that make up the tribe. And they're often are very dysfunctional and at odds with each other. That proved to be the situation in this particular case. The university felt that if they negotiated with one tribelet, they may be attacked by another tribelet for being excluded or disagreeing with what was done to the remains. The only way they would come to the table was if all of the different tribelets and families unified and had reached consensus on the treatment of the remains before they came to the table. So that really meant that the Native American Heritage Commission and CRS would spent months going into sweat lodges and homes over weekends, meeting with all the different tribelets, to make sure that, first, they would participate in pre-meetings to prepare for the negotiations, and second get them to come to some consensus.

Question:
You were working this alone for CRS?

Answer:
I was working this alone for CRS and the Native American Heritage Commission -- they do mediation particularly in this arena, but asked me to work with them because of my relationship with the Ohlone People. There were at least six different divisions among this particular tribe that we had to bring together. Very strong feelings. Some of them had their own burial grounds and wanted to have the remains given to them so they could have them put into a mission burial ground. Others felt they'd like to have these things hidden away because they didn't want anybody to disturb or desecrate the remains, and they all wanted them to naturally go back into the Earth. That's the spiritual way that most Native Americans believe that remains need to be returned naturally back into the Earth, so that their spirits can rest in peace. So, we met with the tribes, and it was really difficult just to get consensus among the tribes; there was a lot of distrust. We knew that we had the basic common ground of reburial. I think that whenever I conduct mediation I'm always asking myself, "Is there enough in common interest to balance it off the differences on the issues?" Common ground was the sacredness of the remains, and the need for the ancestors to return to Mother Earth. So we kind of leveraged that idea throughout the mediation process. "If you guys don't come to consensus, then what's going to happen to the remains? They're going to stay there. We need to figure out what you've got to do. Something's got to give here." We constantly leveraged the common ground against the different tribal interests.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In that process we learned that there are these Korean victims' associations formed where they are all vying for leadership. There was a great deal of turmoil in between the different groups of Korean leadership trying to consolidate their power and status. The reason was because money was coming from Korea to try to offset some of their problems. They wanted to be power brokers. There is a great deal of that within the Korean community, of what is your status in the community, and if you can be the controller of millions of dollars coming in relief, you gain a great deal of status and cooperation and benefit. So all of a sudden we had these organizations vying for this leadership of the Korean Relief Fund. There was a lot of politics taking place within the Korean community.

Question:
You had learned the politics of the community, the culture of the community over a period of time?

Answer:
I can't say I've ever learned it because it is a lot more complex than I could have ever imagined, but I was privy to a lot of meetings and explanations as to what was going on. They used me a lot too, to be candid with you, because once the Justice Department comes in and they would say something in Korean and everybody would go, "Oh!" I knew I was being touted as a representative of the government coming in here. I could never get clear stories from everybody. But they gave us a lot of information; there was a lot of trust and cooperation formed eventually. The older generation was looking at the Korean money. The younger generation was looking at how the United States was going to try to restore their community. Some of the young people felt that -- in Korea I guess when there is a disaster, the government will compensate you and make you whole, you just lay out what your damages are and the government will compensate you. They felt that the city had that role for them. They didn't even know what the federal role was, they were so focused on the city that they refused to be open to other resourcesWe knew the leaders and he was a very cagey guy, but at the same time I think he used us, but he gave us enough information to let us know what was going on. He knew that we would at least insure their safety, because we were playing that liaison between law enforcement, between city hall, the protection service agencies of the city government. So they would give us just enough information so that they felt they were being protected, at the same time they were getting their voice heard. That's when they told me, "Here's our next game plan." And I go, "What are you going to do now?" It was, 'Well, we're going to march around city hall." I was at one of these victim association meetings, and he says, "Steve come over here, I want to tell you what we're going to do next." And I go, "Oh no, what?" And they say, "We're going to march," and sure enough they could turn out 300 to 500 people, at any event they wanted to.

Question:
So that was your alert?

Answer:
That was my alert. I was the team leader for the Korean liaison. I had a team of three other people who were stationed temporarily in Los Angeles for the Rodney King incident.

Question:
What did you do?

Answer:
Well we knew a demonstration was going to take place. Since we know the leadership of the Korean community and felt we had a fairly good handle on them, we decided to meet with city hall.

Question:
That's what you did in this case?

Answer:
Yes, we met, with city hall and the police to let them know what the Korean demonstrators intentions are, what they're going to do, that we're going to be on site, that we have the leadership and we want to know who's going to be your leadership and how we can continue to communicate at all times, because we just don't know where this is going to go. After we met with the city hall police and let them know this demonstration was going to take place, we had to let the LAPD know because there are multiple jurisdictions. The other law enforcement agency that we didn't contact or develop a working relationship with was the parking enforcement police. We later had a problem with them. So we learned that we had to look at all the law enforcement agencies that were going to be involved. So once we touch base and let everybody know what's going on, we position ourselves as the liaison from the leadership to all these other entities. We're constantly talking to the leadership as to, "where are you going to be, how are you going to set it up, what's the organizational plan, how many people," as much as we can get because having all the parties know is diffusing. It's the unknown that hurts you in these situations. As long as we say, "We're going to share this with the police, they need to know because if they don't know, they're going to over react, they're going to put more police out there, they're going to be upset because they put more police than necessary, or other scenarios. "We try to give them all a picture of what's to be expected and what our role as liaisons and mediators will be during the demonstrations. That's the position that we normally always take. And usually, in all the demonstrations that I control, I always try to assign somebody to the leaders of the organization, almost like a shadow, because you know if anything comes up, he's going to make the decisions. All the information is going to flow through the leader, so having a conduit; you can keep the pulse of that demonstration. We always try to have eye contact with them, if not a shadow, depending on what they will allow us to do. We also, if we can, try to position somebody in a command center, or whatever the counter-operation is, or at least have him know who that liaison is. In this situation we only had four people, so we really didn't have enough to station people away. We all needed to be marching with the 500 people because you have other elements around City Hall. You have, of course, workers, but you also have some clients and homeless out there.. So there's all these potential levels for altercation and conflict.

Question:
As you were preparing, were you working with the Mayor's people to encourage them to meet?

Answer:
We had already passed on the request and explained to them what they wanted to do, but we were getting no response. The mayor had a Korean worker on his staff, and she was our liaison for a lot of our pre-negotiations with the mayor. She was a key person who really helped us into the Korean community from the very beginning.

Question:
But the mayor wouldn't move on it?

Answer:
He just didn't feel that he wanted to face that animosity and the blame and the anger. He didn't think there was going to be any real benefit from it. That was his position at the time. I think he, we, all under-estimated the Korean community. Being of Asian-American ancestry, I don't think the Chinese and other demonstrators had the kind of vigor that the Korean community had. But I think people never realized the loss the Korean community suffered. There were families that were devastated. What most people never understood about the Korean community is that people who had come here had pooled their money together as families, and bought businesses, and had an obligation to pay back to that family, organization, or friends. Then they took the collateral from their business and bought another place. So they were spread very thin in a lot of situations. Once one place burned down or was damaged it had a significant effect. It has this domino effect on many of the families in the Korean community. It was really devastating. We had a number of Koreans leave the country and say, 'Forget it, I'm out of here, I'm going back to Korea.' They just could not ever dream of becoming whole. So when you face that kind of devastation, there is definitely a sense of hopelessness and in some ways, it was therapeutic to march and demonstrate. They didn't have any problems getting people out because at least it gave them a focus and a direction and some hope. So these demonstrations were vigorous. They didn't stop.

Question:
And your role during those demonstrations?

Answer:
It was to be right there as a liaison. When they said we're going to be here from this point to this point, we were there at that point to make sure that we were going to be there for that liaison between the leadership and the police. Constantly serving as liaison to diffuse anything that may come up. And things came up all the time. Fundamentally, our role is to insure that the first amendment rights of any American to speak freely and to demonstrate are protected. CRS by maintaining open communications lines open is able to diffuse tensions and mediation conflicts that may arise.

Question:
For example?

Answer:
The Koreans had a pickup system. They would bring these vans in, and hundreds of people would line up to get into the vans to go back to Korea town. It seemed to not be a problem, but then some of the bus drivers started complaining that they're blocking the way. So the law enforcement parkers decided to come in and give tickets. Well, the Koreans already felt hurt; they had already lost too much. They said, "We're not paying tickets!" and several Koreans began to tear the tickets up right in front of the officers. One of the law enforcement parking officers went berserk on us. He started calling, cussing, and arguing with these people. He called for backup, and all these midget cars come in from parking service like it was a showdown. And I'm going, "I can't believe this." So we go in and intervene and say, "Wait a minute. Stop! What are you doing?" We could tell by his behavior that he was a non-compromising skill kind of guy who was going to get his way, or else. I said, "I want to see your supervisor." So we had to flash our DOJ identification, tell him who we are, tell them what we're about and say, "We need to see your supervisor. You don't need to talk to these people." We waited for the supervisor, Meanwhile all these cars are flying in on us. It could have gone crazy right there and then. We finally get a supervisor and explain to him what's going on, and he says, "Okay, don't worry about it, drop the ticket. Let me get my guys out of here first." I said, "Okay, please." It just takes somebody with a level head that understands the dynamics that will say, "Look, you guys are being inconsistent. You let them park here for several days, and now you're enforcing parking restrictions all of a sudden. We gotta work this out. This wasn't fair to the Koreans." So we were able to negotiate a different route and work all that out.

Question:
And that was typical of what you were doing?

Answer:
Yes, it was conflict after conflict all the time.

Question:
How long did the demonstrations continue?

Answer:
Well, we didn't make the whole 30 days, I know that. I remember getting to the 15th day and saying, "These people are obstinate, this is amazing." I just didn't think that it would be sustained. Around the 17th day I think they decided, "We can march all these days, but they don't get it." That's when they decided to go into the building. It was interesting because they kind of played with the doors, to see what the reaction was going to be. They'd stay around the doors until bottles were thrown on them. They would hang on these doors, then start marching again. The police would always meet you right at the door and say, you can't go through here. The police were adamant, they were not going in. I think one day they found a back door, or some way to get in, and they went right into the city hall. Now we had 300 people right in the middle of city hall, blocking the whole main floor, demanding to see the mayor. I told the sergeant, they're coming in. And he says, "Wait, wait, hold them off." I go, "I can't. They've asked for this meeting." So now they are panicking, and willing to do more all of a sudden. The message came out from the mayor's office that he would meet with a delegation. "Figure out who they want, how many people. He will meet with you this afternoon, but you have to clear out." So we convey the message and we negotiate all this. I don't think they trusted the mayor. I think we stayed there. The mayor said, "Okay, let's move the meeting up, get your people." So now we're helping them. "So, who are you going to get? You only get so many people." " No, no, we want more people." And it was all right there on the floor of City Hall, all this chaos.

Question:
The mayor set the limit?

Answer:
The mayor set a limit. They tried to raise the limit. They cleared the floor. I think this was a little bit of a compromise. We got a few more people in, and they made their selection and they went in. Then it was a matter of, "Let's go over the agenda. What are you going to talk about? We've got to get some framework to this. It was amazing to me.

Question:
Did you bring that to their attention?

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

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

Answer:
Yeah, he didn't want to be there at all, but he didn't want to be in the middle of it either. He wanted somebody else to be at the head of it. So I could see the politics that he was playing. What amazed me at the table was that the Koreans, I thought, didn't raise all the issues. I had to remind them of some of the other issues. I had to say, "Aren't you going to talk about this issue?" I knew they weren't going to have that many opportunities. If you didn't get it on the table, then they're going to want to come back. It behooved everybody, I thought. I didn't want to be an advocate, but I certainly didn't want to leave the table without their issues being addressed. Otherwise we might have to revisit this whole scenario again.

Question:
Were you able to do this without appearing to be an advocate? Or were you an advocate? Was that okay?

Answer:
I don't think I appeared to be an advocate because I didn't speak for them. I basically reminded them that we had an agenda and there were issues that "you" wanted to bring up. "If you don't talk about it now, you won't have a chance." That type of approach. I don't think anybody perceived me as being an advocate. We didn't get a written agreement. It was more of a conciliation. They had to hear from the mayor exactly what powers he had and what his intentions were, and what he could and could not do. The mayor, as politically as he could, said, "We're not the vehicle for relieving you of your problems. The proper vehicle is the federal government. We have the Federal Emergency Management Agency here that will be looking at all those issues, and looking at what your damages are and trying to rectify with you. He didn't say they were loans, he said, "They're the vehicle." I looked at the Korean community and they go, 'You don't do that?" We had told them all along that there were these different ways of doing that, but until they heard it from the mayor, they weren't going to accept it. They thought the city had some obligation too. The city did tell them what they could do and what they were working on, and what kind of business support they were going to give and so forth. They needed to hear all that. So that was a point of clarification.

Question:
When you respond to volatile situations, are you ever asked to do things that you can't do?

Answer:
Yeah. They want me to go get the mayor. They expect us to, and in most mediations they want to get their point of view across and they want us to be an advocate for them. We have to explain to them why that's inappropriate for us to do, and what our role is. "Our role is to try and bring both of you together and to work with you to see how you can come up to some kind of agreement to resolve your issue. We're not going to take your issue and fight it for you, that's not our role. What information you share with me, sometimes I share with the other side, and if there's something you don't want me to, you need to tell me, because that's a big part of bringing you both together to resolve it. You guys own the problem."

Question:
Did that confidentiality you promised them ever create a problem? Were you always able to stick to it?

Answer:
To my knowledge, I have. I don't know when I've broken confidentiality. When I talk about confidentiality, you know we have press conferences after some of our mediations. All I'm saying is that, we don't talk about specifics, or what's discussed in the mediation.

Question:
But you've never had a problem telling a party, receiving something in confidence, that you then feel you need to share with the other party?

Answer:
I may feel that it's the right thing to do, but I have not stepped over that bounds, unless they have given me permission or unless they've conveyed it, I don't think I've ever violated that confidentiality.

Question:
When you're in your office and you are alerted to a conflict in a community, how do you tend to respond?

Answer:
What I do is, I look at the source of the referral and I try to dissect who do I need to talk to, depending on the kind of case. If it's an excessive use of force case, I'm looking for who is the spokesperson for the complainant. Usually it is the NAACP, CORE, SCLC, sometimes some community spokespersons evolve. So I'm looking for linkages to the complainant side. My next step is to move out on to the scene and to begin an assessment to determine what the issues are and whether there is an appropriate role for CRS.

Question:
Is that where you start?

Answer:
Well, I'm looking at analyzing the conflict to figure out where or who to contact next. I'm going to look at all sides. What police department, who do I know that knows whom. In Long Beach, I've had such a long association, I've known the last three chiefs, I even think I know the up and coming chief. I have several advisors in the minority advisory committees that I've worked with over the years, and I've worked with the community relations division. So I'll start with the Community Relations Division, and figure out, who's in charge of it, who's doing it. Then I'll hone in on the police side. But the community side is harder to evolve if you don't have a clear organization that's championing the issue. And it isn't automatically in our jurisdiction unless there is some kind of party that represents the complainant. If it's an individual shooting, and there's no organization behind it, it's not jurisdictional to us if it's just an 'individual' complaint. I have to evaluate that immediately as I go along. So that's a big part of our assessment. One, is it racial? And two, is there a party involved? There have been times when I have conversed with an individual family and said, "you know, it's really not jurisdictional to us, unless you get an organization to work with you, I can't work with you directly." And they make a decision as to if they're going to involve NAACP, or some organization to work with them so that we have a legitimate party involved. After I assess that, and determine where to go, I usually call the complainant first, and do my analysis, and try to get that face to face meeting. While I'm getting ready to have that face to face or have that meeting set up, I will call the other side whether it be police, corporation, school institution, university, whatever the other party is. I will call the leadership and say, "I'm from CRS of the U.S. Department Justice, I'm a federal mediator, I'm attempting to assess a possible race related conflict in an effort to reduce or resolve it. I'm in touch with the other parties, you need to be aware of that. I want to meet with you at some time also. So I want to let both parties know that we are there, and that my intentions are to meet with each of them. I usually meet with the complainant party first, because the institutions often don't know what the real issues are. They don't know who the complainants are or what they're planning to do. They often look to CRS in some form to help clarify what's out there. So if I go to the institution first and meet with them, I don't get that much. If you meet with the complainant, you get the details of the levels of mistreatment, the full allegations, the level of temperament, the coalition of organizations. You get a flavor of what the protesting body is about. The institutions usually very much appreciate understanding all those dynamics. So that's why I usually go from the complainant side to the institutional side.

Question:
Are you ever asked not to tell the other party that you're coming in?

Answer:
Well, they probably have said that to me, but I say "I can't, I've already done that. I'm coming in to try to resolve the conflict, I've got to work with both sides."

Question:
Do you ever get asked not to come in?

Answer:
I'm sure somebody has told me that (laughing). The BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) calls me sometimes, I work with the BIA on Native-American issues. They'll call me sometimes and say, Steve we've got these two tribes and two contingents of families that are vying for the leadership of this tribe. It's gotten really violent, we've had shootings over tribal governance, housing, employment, and other kind of stuff. One place, was the Roundtable Rancheria. I went into Roundtable right after they had a shooting. The entrenchment and the level of tension between the two tribal factions was heavy. They told me over the phone, "We don't want you in here. You're just another government agency." I try to explain that we're not the BIA, because some of the tribes have a total dislike for the BIA. When I explain I'm with the Department of Justice, that I'm a federal mediator and that I've come to help resolve their disputes, sometimes they let you in, and sometimes they don't. And that's fine. I mean, if they don't want you in, they don't want you in. I don't think I could expect to force myself into every situation.

Question:
Have you ever managed a case over the phone and not gone onsite and yet provided some assistance?

Answer:
Yes, because during the civil unrest when I was working with the Korean community, I got a call about a riot in a school in Long Beach. The principal says, "Steve, I need you now." I said, "I can't come now. I'm tied up." And she said, "But we've just had a riot, this racial group and that racial group fought on campus during lunch and I don't know what to do. We've suspended so many, but the students are coming back soon. We've still got a lot of tension." I actually prescribed a strategy over the phone to the principal. We talked every evening about where we were. I tell this story all the time because it's amazing. I talk about it in terms of how we can trust kids and when they give their word they mean it. When problems occur, we've got to figure out ways to really empower students to be a part of the solution. What I told this principal was, "Do you know the players, do you know the real players that were involved in this altercation?" She said, "Yes, between the counselors and security, we know who the players are." I said, "Okay, bring them in, one by one. Tell them, you need their help. Tell them 'I want to make sure that we bring this school back together, and I need your help. Will you help me?' You're the principal of the school." And she said, "Oh yeah, just bring them in one by one?" I said, "Yes, see if you can get them to support you." "What happens if they don't?" she asked. "Keep them on suspension."So I called her that evening and she said, "Steve, every one of them gave their word. It's amazing, these are great kids." I said, "Yeah, they are. Have you never met them before?' She said, "Now what do I do?" I said, 'Ok, they're keeping their word, they're helping to keep things calm?" She said, "Yeah they are, but I don't think I can just leave it like this." I said, "Now that they've made a commitment to you, you can bring them together as a group. So bring the Samoan kids in. Remind them they've already made their commitment, that they've individually given their word so that peer pressure doesn't take them to another level. Then talk to them about how we need you all to control not only yourselves as individuals, but also others to help diffuse the tension here. Then bring in the other group and do the same thing." So she talked to them and she said, "They all agree, we're all on the same page. Things are still okay." I said, "You still have some kids on suspension?" "Well, they're coming in," she said, "they're giving me their word." I said, "Ok, you're moving along. Now, you need to decide when, but at some point we can bring them together and we can get them to figure out what the issues are, and to problem solve it and come to some solution on this. Are you comfortable with that?" This is about a week into it. She says, "Well, they've kept their word so far, and I've gotten to know them, and I know the leadership pretty well and they really are working with me." I said, "Then you're ready, bring them together. Let's go."So I did it all on the phone over a series of a week. She and a couple of counselors worked through that whole process with the kids. We did it by phone. There's just no way I could have been there.

Question:
Thinking of communities where you go in unknown, as opposed to those that you know so well after all these years, how do you identify the underlying issues in a conflict when you intervene?

Answer:
I'm trying to get a good example of that. I'm sure I made a lot of faux pas on a lot of the Native American stuff. But you're thrown in. You have BIA to call, and you talk to them over the phone and you say, let's see if we can come to the table and you get a commitment from both parties and your land on the reservation. Now you're meeting with them. You have somebody arranging for one group and somebody arranging for the other group, and you're going in cold. Usually I'm flying to some place, and then drive forever to some rural reservation. It's not something where I can go in, warm myself up, and really build a relationship before, and come back and forth several times to conduct a mediation. It's almost like we've talked on the phone, and we're ready to go. We're almost there, but I want to meet with you alone first before we actually try to see if we can get to the table. Maybe not today, but maybe tomorrow, certainly not more than a day or two. So, I'll sit on the reservation for a couple days and see whether we can get this thing to move. That's about as cold as I've gotten.

Question:
Do you find the issues that brought you in are the most important ones you have to deal with?

Answer:
I think the issues that they convey to me usually are key issues, but oftentimes nuances come in that nobody shared, and you don't learn about those until you come on site. It only comes through in your private meetings with the parties, and your discussions with individuals. Then in a couple of cases I've had sheriffs escort me for my personal safety and to give me some background. Then, they tell me, "Do you realize what had taken place here? What's the history of this tribe? What the families are like? These guys are felons." And all these things come out when you're just dropped in there and you're on the site. So it's really just becoming a sponge. To me it's like, you're going through the setting, and you sit down with people, and you try to observe and absorb as much as you can. You're just probing, you're reading peoples' behaviors, you're reading their styles, their trust levels, and you're hearing the messages. Then you go to the other side, and they're talking about the same issues, but it looks like a whole different world. As the mediator, you're kind of stifled because you have these broad differences of views on the same relative issue in history of these parties. So it becomes valuable to get other peoples views. For example when the sheriff as an outsider says, "Well this is the way I see it." I'm hearing from different people in the area to kind of get a flavor for what the parties may be withholding, and the way they slanted things, versus the other party. The perspectives of somebody neutral who may have seen the same history and experiences and seen the tensions arise between the parties are invaluable. I just feel like I'm a sponge, and I'm trying to find some sense of the truth there somewhere, because I'm not going to get it from the parties. I know it because they're coming in from such biased perspectives. I often use what I call the Forced Field Analysis, where you look at the issues and you look at them by rank order, and you kind of line the issues up juxtaposed to each other by rank. Then you really take to heart the opinions of those people that you felt were neutral and very objective about the disputed issues to try to see if you can bleed some truth and logic into the sequence and the viewpoints of the parties' positions. So that's the way I approach it. It's very intuitive, but at the same time I'm relying on as many of the neutral perspectives that I can get because I think that objectivity lends some credence to some of the very biased views of people involved in the conflict. That's the best I can do in those kinds of cold situations. Sometimes you need time to bleed out the truth by getting to more levels, in-depth levels. Too often, we just don't have the time to do that, so I have to take that intuitive position and then attempt to work through it. When you get to the table, the biases work themselves out. When somebody makes a demand or an allegation about an injustice, the other side could counter it. The truth kind of works its way out, just by saying, "I don't understand how you can make that allegation, because I see it this way. Can you see the other person's point of view? Does it sound the same? There is some miscommunication here, and I want to see how we can sort this out. Can anybody state that again or reframe this so I can get it?" I'll play dumb and bleed it out until they shake loose and we get some concurrence or interpretation of what in fact took place, and can begin to find a solution. I think it's a very intuitive process.I think it's important to find other neutrals.

Question:
How do you identify them [neutrals]?

Answer:
Well, in any of these groups that we work with, there's a range of personalities on any side. You have the adamant positions, they're wrong, I'm right, I'm going to get my piece. Then you have the hangers-on who don't see it at the same level of compassion and anger, and they tend to be more objective. I look for these people because they are very important in preparing for the mediation process. In our mediations, we usually have 5 to 7 people on either side. If you diagram the personalities that sit at the table, I kind of hone in on who I can depend on in really being my aides and will assist me, who are the ones that are basically just position bargainers, and which are the ones that I can count on really giving me a more objective insight. So, working with the personalities and the positions of the parties themselves is important in knowing who to go to, who to ask questions, who to diagnose the problems and issues with and who might give you a possible solution, etc. Even within the parties you can find diverse views and position to help the mediation process.

Question:
When you come into a case, does your own race or ethnicity play a role?

Answer:
Well, being of Asian ancestry, I think it has really been an asset in a lot of ways. I'll tell you why. With Native Americans, they respect Asians because we have a strong family values and a high regard for education. When I talk to Native Americans, they say, "Oh, your people believe in family and elders. They hold a high respect and reverence for families and elders." There's a click there. They can identify with that. When I work with Latino community, they tend to be more passive and they tend to have strong family convictions, and they respect that of the Asian population. When I work with African-American communities -- I used to live in South Central -- often I fall into Black dialect very naturally. When I tell them I grew up in South Central, and where I grew up and what church I went to and all that, it takes a lot of tension and distrust out of the relationship. Asian Americans are accepted as minorities that have experienced prejudice, and that opens doors for me in race related mediation. When I work with Asians, they probably distrust me the most. I remember one case when I was dealing with African Americans and Koreans. I met with a former African American Vietnam Veteran, and he looked at me like, "What are you doing here." So I explained that I was with CRS and I'm a federal mediator, and I've read about the dispute you have here, and understand there are several complaints with regards to this Korean swap meet. Really, my role is to try and bring you and the owner of the swap meet together and see if we can come to some resolution other than violence. Then I started talking about where I grew up, what things I had experienced when I was young, and I said, If you have any discomfort with me as an Asian American, that's no problem, we can always get you another mediator. He says, "No, you're okay with me." And I remember at the table, one of the things I did on that particular case, knowing that both Koreans and African Americans value religion and have very strong Christian ethic in both communities. I naturally picked a neutral church in the community to be the place for our mediation. It really took the thunder out of a great deal of the animosity. But at the table, we had a big language problem. The Koreans has such strong accents, I couldn't understand them. The African Americans couldn't understand them. We had one African American who worked in the swap meet who was our translator. It was just amazing. The candor of the discussions and the open realizations that African-Americans went through and that Koreans went through and their thankfulness that they shared their real feelings as people about why Koreans followed African Americans around in stores, why the Koreans look angry and then now to smile and other nuances that they didn't understand. What one culture felt was a better alternative to a real demeaning and discourteousness act, was found to be a taboo or idiotic thing to do in another culture. I had an easel and I wrote the agreements that they came up with, I wrote them out because we knew language was a real barrier so we wrote out everything that they concurred on. Then I went and asked the Korean community if they understood each issue and proposed resolution, and would ask, "Are there any questions?" I went through tediously pointing out exactly what the exchange was, what the agreement was piece by piece. But I think race has not been a problem for me because I grew up in a multi-racial community and I think I have strong interpersonal skills and for that reason it hasn't really come up. In particular, communities often say we like your people because I know they are really looking at me as a cultural person.

Question:
Do you help parties prioritize their issues?

Answer:
Do I help them prioritize their issues or do I take their issues and put them in priority order?

Question:
Help put them in priority order. How ever you want to define it. Help them prepare to come to the table.

Answer:
What I think I really do is I listen to them and I take their priorities as they give them to me, as I see them. I analyze them against the other parties' priority issues and then when I write the issues down I try to manipulate them so we work from the easiest to the hardest. At that point, I share the issue with each of the parties one at a time and gain their concurrence. The parties are also given a chance to add or delete issues. I generally do that all the time because I want them invested in the process before we get to the real hard ones. I've had situations where I've put hard ones on the front end and we couldn't get through them and there wasn't enough good will established to get through that issue. I've always found if I put the easiest issues up front that by the time we hit the lower issues they are either never going to get there, or they would feel that they've invested so much that they would work through the more difficult. So I've always used that approach.

Question:
What about issues that maybe they couch as non-negotiable or that you think to be non-workable. Would you help them to reframe them?

Answer:
I'll give you one story; I do a lot of Native American stuff I guess. I was working with the Irvine Corporation on the Newport Channel Island Development Project. I was working with the Gabrielleno Indians and we had a whole agenda of issues. Right off the bat the Native Americans looked at this particular mound and said, "This is a sacred mound and you shouldn't build here." The developer looked at the Native Americans and said, "Wait a minute. That's not negotiable. That's why we're here. Period. This is a million dollar operation and the only reason we are building here is because of this view looking over the Bay to Catalina. This is not negotiable." Now, what do I do? So I look at the Native Americans and say, "What do you think?" They got it. It's not negotiable. They had a whole list of stuff, so they dismissed it. It's not for me to say, "Well why don't you negotiate half of that mound?" I understood exactly what they were saying. The other thing that I need to convey to you about negotiation in these kinds of cases is there is law behind mediations for historical sites and Native American repatriation. The law says that when remains are found that they need to call the Native American Heritage Commission and they need to call a coroner. The coroner then makes the determination that these remains are Native American and calls the Native American Heritage Commission to determine who the most likely descendants are. Then the most likely descendants have the right and must be consulted with in remedying any process in the treatment of remains. That's what the law says, but it's permissive law. Its not "shall," but "may." So I know legally that the corporations technically could dismiss the Native Americans complaints so that's why if I was to try to press the developer -- I wouldn't do it because it's not for me to do -- but if the Native Americans feel they could press the developer they may more then likely hit a stone wall and lose cooperation on other matters. Really, the corporations are doing this somewhat at good will and for public relations purposes by and large. They could comply with the law by doing very little. I've always felt that the law was too weak in that sense. I guess there have been times when reframing, caucusing, or just clarifying what and why something is non-negotiable has helped to move the parties.

Answer:
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.

Question:
What about the flip side of that. Have you ever had a situation where you felt the government or responding party was coming to the table in bad faith and the protest really did need to continue?

Answer:
I think I've been in situations where the institution was only willing to give up a minimum. They had a position and they were willing to come to the table, but they weren't really reflecting on that decision in any real constructive way and possibly more protests would have changed the attitudes that were possibly insincere or insensitive. I think there have been situations where I've seen that kind of behavior, but its hard to assume continued protest would have changed the outcome. If groups are going to sway bad faith negotiators it takes more than protest. But that could happen in the opposite way too, I'll give you an example. I had a case where beatings took place on television, just like Rodney King, and the Hispanic community was very upset. There were demonstrations and marches. We finally got the Hispanic community to sit down with the county sheriffs. The county sheriffs felt they were in for a shellacking. Yet the community asked for nothing. I thought we had a real open situation where the community could ask for a number of mechanisms and strategies to avoid that kind of beating, poor police protocol, and use of force. Yet, when I got the parties together I wasn't able to clear out the issues. They knew what they wanted, they said, and I was trying to get them into the meeting. But when they came to the table they just asked for an advisory committee to the sheriff 's department as a mechanism for long-term discussions. They didn't want any precise preventions for that kind of act. It really surprised me and kind of flabbergasted me because the institution was willing to give much more then what was asked. That was the opposite of your hypothesis. You can get it either way. Prepared parties for mediation is so important.

Question:
When that happened did you work with the community to help them understand that they could be asking for more?

Answer:
You know, I didn't know if I would overstep my bounds in that situation. I thought it was incumbent among the community to decide what it wanted. The opportunities were there. They needed to say what they wanted and needed and I felt that if I prompted anything it would be perceived that I had lost my neutrality and I was pulling stuff on the table in front of the county sheriffs. I felt they had a much stronger position then they recognized.

Question:
Could that be shared in preparing them to come to the table?

Answer:
I thought I was dealing with a fairly sophisticated group and I didn't think I needed to do that, but it wasn't something I openly shared with them.

Question:
Then the sophistication of the group becomes an important factor in how much assistance you feel a need to provide.

Answer:
Yes. We had university professors in that group and I thought they could champion and knew that community and I didn't feel that I needed to do much more with them, but I guess they weren't street-wise in that situation. I thought they needed to get into some substantive kind of dialogue on possibilities. That was my personal opinion. It wasn't something that I conveyed because I didn't think it was my place to do that. They got what they felt they wanted and it was concurred on by the participants. It seemed to have worked. I haven't had any problems in that community subsequently. That's where a mediator doesn't own the agreement. We bring a process and we facilitate it for them and they've got to own it. I just didn't think it was my place. Now, in another case -- I'm just trying to give you all the dynamics of this -- I had a case where a police department collaborated with the INS to do a series of sweeps in a community on undocumented immigrants. They had done so many sweeps that they unknowingly swept in Mexican-American citizens, maybe 35 or 40 of them. They then faced a $35,000,000 suit. I met with both parties and I could have taken them to the table, but I told the Latino leadership, "I'm going to remove myself from the mediation because this type of violation is going to occur again until you get some kind of principle in law that prevents it. I think you have something to get the attention of the institutions. If you mediate this situation, there won't be any standard by which to terminate this kind of discrimination and I think something needs to be put on the books." I left them with that. You know, you mediate an agreement and that town has the agreement, but they were in the position to really put something in the legal system, in the courts that could sustain some guidance when dealing with undocumented immigrants and sweeps that effect U.S. citizens. At 35 million I thought they would get the attention of a lot of cities and a lot of agencies and I thought it was important to let the case go forward. Little did I know that they would settle this case for a meager $400,000. For me I said, "We could have mediated that!" I didn't know where the lawyers were coming from. Again, it's a judgment call that a mediator makes and I didn't want to get in the way of something that I thought was very precedent setting for the Nation and for their community. Those are the kinds of judgments a mediator can get into. A year later, the New Jersey State Police publicly admitted to profiling against African Americans.

Question:
So in that case you decide to withdraw even though they were ready and willing to go forward with mediation?

Answer:
Yeah. It wasn't exactly there, but I felt I had a good chance. Who knows?

Question:
If you have a relatively unsophisticated group do you sometimes put them in touch with third parties like lawyers or activists who you think might be able to give them information that you feel you can't give them without compromising your position.

Answer:
Again, I was brokering lawyers in that particular case. These were lawyers who had already filed a $35 million dollar suit and they were the representatives of the parties and I was potentially going to mediate their lawyers and the INS and the city that would put the police in that position. So, those were the parties. Again, maybe it was a fault in the sense that I felt that the sophistication was there. You had your lawyers, you had your party, you had your class action suit. These lawyers would know the value of this case. So, again, I thought it was a more sophisticated group and would take it and set that precedence, but evidently they didn't see it or maybe the case wasn't as strong as they thought. I think we have to look at what is our role and get out of the way sometimes for the sake of valuable principles that need to be set. Sometimes mediation can be a compromise we need to get out of the way because what we do in mediation doesn't stand up in the courts and have the same precedence that sometimes the courts need, that society needs. I think we need to look at disputes from a variety of views.

Question:
Have you ever felt so strongly about an issue or situation that you felt you couldn't be impartial?

Answer:
No, I tend to be a very reflective person. I tend to be able to distance myself from my personal feelings and the issues, so far in my career. I know there's certain issues like excessive use of force that I have some biases opinions about. I certainly do have biases and very strong convictions about what I feel to be repeated misjudgments. You get to a point where you feel something more significant has to be done. I'm constantly talking to CRS people about what are some of these other mechanisms. I do feel a sense of emotionalism, but I don't let that cloud what I'm doing with mediation. Just because I have my biases and my emotional feelings that I should not lay my feelings on anybody else. You get my drift? I mean I do have very strong emotions about some issues of our school systems and what they don't give in terms of equity or quality education and yet I can't lay my judgments on the parties and their disputes in mediation. I don't think my objectivity has been compromised so far.

Question:
Are there things that you do to manage the party's perceptions of your neutrality?

Answer:
Besides telling them? I think it's very important to give equal time, to demonstrate equal interest, to facilitate and to not get caught up in judgments. All of those kinds of things I think I have to manage to avoid getting caught up or being perceived as bias in any way. I do a lot of pulling out ideas from people, but letting them own it. I try to stay out of it as much as possible, I think that's the only answer I can give you.

Question:
Have you ever been accused of being partial, not objective?

Answer:
Yeah.

Question:
How do you deal with that?

Answer:
Defensively. I try to clarify where I was coming from. If they claim that they felt I made a statement that seemed to be a biased or an advocacy position for one of the parties, I explain what I said, why I said it and why I don't think it was intended to be in that vain. Usually that clarifies it. It may sound defensive, I don't know. That's in the eye of the beholder and they haven't told me yet. I think it's important that I justify and explain where it's coming from and feel free to say that if it's perceived as bias, that's your perception of it, but I don't think that I violated my neutrality.

Question:
How do you see your role in regard to the fairness of the settlement, in terms of what you think to be fair?

Answer:
Well, I don't get into that. When we reach the final mediation, I say "Okay, I'm going to write this up, I'm going to send it to you. I want you to look at the terms of the agreement, and to make sure that you can live with it, follow it, do it, and then we'll come together and sign it. I'm going to give you a couple of days to look at it then we'll reconvene." So, I want to be sure that we took time, and let them have the last word and let them be able to look at it and conclude "This works, this works for me. I can live up to it. It's a good agreement." Sometimes they say, "We need to come back together." I say, "Fine, let's come back together." So, I don't want anybody to feel jammed, but I want them to look at it with the time and the opportunity to look at what are the consequences of this agreement, are there things you don't want to happen, can you live up to this agreement, is it meaningful for you, does it accomplish what you thought it needed to accomplish? Then they will come to the signing and we will do that jointly. I think that's the way I handle it. We don't all have that luxury though.

Question:
Do you have techniques you use for reducing tensions between the parties?

Answer:
Sometimes they get hot and I have to watch the parties and see what level of tolerance one has of each group. I read the behaviors and decide whether to ask them to calm down. Sometimes I call for timeouts and ask for caucuses. There have been times where I've said, "Wait a minute, we need to review why we're here and what tone and ground rules we've agreed to abide by. If I sense some discomfort by some of the people, I'll say, "By the behavior of the individuals there seems to be a need to take some of that tone out of here," or "Could we take a time out?" At that time I can meet with individuals to draw out that person and speak to that person directly and say, "You know you're creating a level of hostility. Do we want to move forward in working towards a solution? We're not going to cut you out of getting your voice and what you want to accomplish, but the tone is going to possibly harden the other side, so it depends what you want to accomplish here. Think about that as you convey your issues. You could be passionate, but don't get to the point where you're so aggressive that it harms the process." I think those are the kinds of techniques that I have used.

Question:
How do you deal with parties if you sense they're only giving lip service at the table and aren't serious about making concessions or changes?

Answer:
Well, one way is to go to the opposite party and say, "Did you hear that? What did it mean to you? What did you hear them say and whether you felt if that was a good suggestion and how do you feel about that?" And let them speak for themselves rather than me getting into it. I may caucus and say, "They gave up a lot more than you gave up, are you going to meet them half way or what?" I may caucus and say something like that. But I think it's better if the parties hear it. There have been times when I say, "What did you think about that?" and they say, "That sounds all right with me." I go, whoa, what am I dealing with? That's a whole other alert that I've got to say. Now as a mediator, I think we are looking at the agreements and saying "Do we really give something in value and do we come up with a good agreement? You know an agreement that will really resolve the problems or will it just be a temporary Band-Aid that will come back at us?" So that's where I think we have to beg the question sometimes and maybe prod a little bit in terms of well, let me paraphrase what I think he said and say it in such a way that it's slightly demeaning and see whether we can prompt an understanding of why it might be a very artificial kind of offer. But I think the party has to see it themselves. I think we'd get into danger if I were to say, "I think that's a nothing statement you made."

Question:
You talked about how you build trust with the parties. How about building trust between the parties?

Answer:
Well, I think agreement is that process. The other thing I wanted to mention about tension is I think it's always good to bring humor. I have a very light humor. They always say something that you can play off on that you can stay within the context and still be light enough but bring enough humor to defuse some of that tension. I think humor is a very valuable tool. Some people know how to use it and some people don't. It's tricky, I know, because you can get hurt with humor sometimes, but I found humor to be a very meaningful way to relieve tension and a valuable one.

Question:
Do you have any examples or guidelines for humor?

Answer:
Well, now you're asking me. I can't tell jokes, I can't remember. Maybe, the things that you play off on are things you hear and the misinterpretations we have and using yourself as the vehicle for humor versus any of the parties. But, everybody will say something and then they'll know it's a miscommunication or it's a faux pas of some type and you catch it and you go "Did you hear that one?" Just a light playoff on words sometimes can relieve a lot of tension. When you see the parties warming up in that vein of a little humor sometimes, it gets a whole lot of invigorated faith in the other person's ability to recognize that the other party is just another human being with needs and interest just like me.

Question:
Do you deal with power disparities in bringing parties together?

Answer:
That's why I think our pre-mediation process is so valuable because we need to, in our own way, have the parties believing that they're going to have a fair shake at the table and that they come to the table with leverage as equals. Certainly when you're the institution and you have all the power and you have a complainant, there's no way to say, "You're all equal." In the same token, you're not armless as a complainant and you have options. We need to level the playing field as we come in and we need to build and organize and at least get them to understand that their issues are valid. They have a right to bring these issues forward and that they should expect some give and some take. It's not a one way street and they have the right to that. In that sense, empower them to come to the table as equals. I think sometimes, particularly with community organizations, we have to spend some time in the pre-mediation preparing them for that. That sense of empowerment and valuing their position in their ability to expect some take as well as some give. (Interview is interrupted by a cell phone call for Mr. Thom. He takes the call and then talks about it)

Answer:
Can we pause a moment. This guy runs an office of one of our senators and I periodically brief him on what tensions are out here and what some of the dynamics are so that they can anticipate. They wanted to know what legislation and what learnings they could get out of the police shooting of Tiasha Miller. The patterns that we were seeing were that we were just following the second generation of President Clinton's police hiring and they were hiring faster than they could train. They are also facing a lot of early retirements, so they had people who were in charge of training who only had five years experience in police work. So you have the candle burning at both ends. If you look at some of the recent shootings, officers with only 1 to 3 years of experience have been involved in these shootings. You remember one officer was on probation and other officer who broke her car window, I think was only a first year police officer. So, you have kids that are being thrown into very tense situations with limited sophistication and experience to know how to handle them. I've talked to the senator's office about what intervention things we can lend to the mix to try to avoid these kinds of situations. There are always patterns to all of this and you've just got to diagnose it and try to figure out what you need to do. These options can help. That's why CRS is planning to train police officers in mediation as a possible tool for diffusing violence.

Question:
Tell us about that police officer training.

Answer:
We've decided as an agency to train police officers in mediation. We talked to police departments and looked at the pattern of their training. In terms of tactics and use of firearms and all the mechanisms how to use the nunchucks and how to use the beanbags rifles and how to use all of that. About 70% of the training of police officers coming into the academy are in those tactical techniques. About 30% are in how to relate to people, how to communicate better, how to get people to voluntarily cooperate, all those kinds of people skill tactics. Then we've had officer experts tell us that if you look at the amount of use of policing tools, that 97% of the time you're using your presence and communication and about 3% of the time you're using any tactics, techniques or weapons, and that the training that is provided to police officers is backwards. We need to give officers more interpersonal skills and techniques on the front end. Police officers see problems first in our society, so why wouldn't we give police officers mediation skills to diffuse tension on the front end? The history of racial tension and policing relations in the 1965 and 1992 Los Angeles riots points to a need for proactive tools to address community disputes. When people of color feel unheard , uncared for, and helpless violence becomes a viable alternative. We also say that having mediation skills is really for police safety, because every time you go to a situation, and they're used to problem solving, they tell disputants what to do, they say, "Look, you go away for a few hours and cool off and you stay here and don't bother him any more. Don't get into any more trouble, that's it. Got it?" And everybody goes, but when they get back together, a police officer will more than likely have to return. They didn't solve anything and the cause of the conflict is still there. What I'm saying is, "Every time you have to return to a repeated conflict, you're allowing the problem to escalate. Somebody's going to get hurt or somebody's going to get killed and sometimes police are going to walk in the middle of it, and they're going to be the target." And that's true, particularly in long term emotional disputes that have been allowed to fester. Another thing we have found is that -- I've done a lot of police training lately in mediation -- we find two patterns. One is that police are often trained to take control and to tell people what to do, and after they tell people what to do, they just want to leave. Where we think we need to focus for police officers is you've got to give some of the power to the parties to learn to come up with solutions, because that's the empowerment. If disputants can come up with options to their problems, they have choices and they make decisions, and if you make decisions, you have power to overcome obstacles. You are not helpless. Then police need to learn how to get a good closure. You need to have some way to say, "Look, do you agree to this, do you agree to that? If you can both live up to your word then we could avoid this dispute in the future. Can you do that ? At the same time the officer has taught the disputants how to solve problems. Do you think you can do this by yourself next time?"

Question:
Are police departments buying in to what you are describing?

Answer:
Yes and no. Well, of the ones that I've done, I've got one police department that says "We want you to train three times next year. We want you to get all of our police officers as soon as they come out of the academy." You can tell, they see the value of mediation right away. They recognize how powerful it is, what it can do for their police officers, particularly on the front end. The old guys that I was training were saying, "This is great training, but I've been in the field so long, now I've learned to do these things. I use a lot of these techniques. Who doesn't have these skills and who doesn't have the experience are our new officers and we need to get them trained on mediation earlier in their careers." So, I think, to me that says that they recognize the value of it and then something needs to be done. I've been asked to train eight times for the California State School Resource Officer Association. They see the value of it, they recognize that it's a valuable tool, and they're anxious to join us as partners of trainer-trainer, because we will eventually do a trainer-trainer program. I've done other police departments. Some are just looking for the post-training, the post credits (the accreditation) and some are looking for a certification, which we're not planning to give. That's going to be left to the States. That's an interesting problem, dilemma that we have, but when I've talked to people about certification for mediators, you know the states have been fighting over who should certify and everybody wants to be the power broker. Some people said that it would be great to have federal certification to just solve all the problems, but now I think there's some reluctance to get us in a position where we were certifying it from the federal level involved. So, we probably won't get into that at all.)We're getting excellent evaluations from the police trainings. It's full of role plays. It's a real tight package. It's 16 hours on the basics and a practicum and then an advanced where we pick up all of the nuances of the experience and where they're going.

Question:
Some cultures have indigenous types of mediation. I wonder if you ever use any elements of those traditional types of mediation?

Answer:
I'm familiar with what probably is the most overt type of mediation that's more indigenous to any group. I've trained under a guy from Hawaii. He was an amazing guy but he uses a lot of shuttle diplomacy because of the Asian hesitancies to participate in face-to-face conflict. But I don't want to compromise that. In those cases, you do a lot of private meetings before you bring them together and you even move the agenda, but at some point you've got to come together. I feel strongly that you have to do that to reach where you can come together. That's probably the only one. All the mediations that I've been involved in are so multi-ethnic, so western predominantly. I haven't been into any international things where I would feel required cultural variance . Even though we may work with some first generation, like Vietnamese mediation, we usually work with the one-and-a-half generation because of the language barrier. Unfortunately, too often when we work with some of the different ethnic, indigenous populations we're really dealing with a western hybrid because of the language barrier and so they become the brokers for the traditionalists in the mediation process. So I haven't had to use various techniques other than being very sensitive to the time factors that Native Americans act out, the reticence of the Native American at the table. Some of these general guidelines that I'm aware of I think we want to be sensitive to, we want to move it at a pace that they're comfortable with. I don't recall any thing more unique than that in the situations I've had. Were you thinking of something particular?

Question:
I remember a mediator some years ago saying in the Asian community where he was working the parties often wanted the mediators to commit themselves to staying with the case after the resolution was reached. They felt the mediator had an obligation to the remain attached to the case.

Answer:
If I was in that case, I would say, "There are time constraints on me, but at the same time my objective is to empower you and I want to give you the mechanisms and the tools to work through this and hopefully you won't need me but I certainly would have no problems communicating with you and assisting you if you needed further assistance." But I have not experienced that request personally.

Question:
Have there been occasions where you've helped parties save face either by becoming a scapegoat yourself or in some other way?

Answer:
Well, I think we are always saving face out there. The whole process is a face saving process in a sense because we're allowing people to speak and empower themselves, to get their points across and not to be dismissed. I think that's face saving in its own right. I will take the heat for something. I've admitted that I may have misunderstood or that maybe, "I pulled you together too soon." I have to accept that the timing, the organizing, the convening, the statements that I make or even, the way I said could be offensive. I'm sure I've gotten into situations where I've embarrassed somebody. I remember we had a Head Start mediation and there was just too much heat going on in this session. I think I attempted to move it with some humor and there was some objection to my humor. I sensed it and said that maybe that was inappropriate at the time and I want to apologize for that, but that doesn't dismiss my intentions to help resolve your problems. If somebody said something that they felt they'd lost their honor in some way, and I picked up on that person's reticence, I could easily, and I'm trying to think of a situation where I've done this, I think we would need to be able to graciously say that's okay and we know you didn't intend to embarrass any one or yeah, I do that myself. I don't have any problems trying to help somebody get through the process by equalizing the playing field and maintain.

Question:
What do you do when you see a conflict within one of the parties?

Answer:
Every once in a while you listen to the same party negotiate and they're talking about different things and that's a cue that something's wrong over there. Sometimes you see these expressions like, "What are we talking about?" When I see that kind of disruption within a party, usually that's time for a caucus. "I'll meet with both sides and make sure everything's okay. I try and give them about the same time. I might say, "Let me give you an example of what I heard you say. I didn't know where you guys are coming from. Do you need to pull this together? Let's look at this issue again and make sure that you're together on what you're asking for and why you're doing that? Is there a reason? Are we talking about two different issues, Are we talking about the same issue? I didn't know?" Of course we try to frame it so there's a spokesperson for each group so we can get them to conduit their information. That's theoretical. We start off that way saying who's going to be the spokesperson for this group so we get a leader. Inevitably, participants chime in on the discussion and so once in a while you need to reestablish the leadership role so that we have a funnel for whose really going to speak on the key points so that we know who has control over the secondary chime in and then make sure that they collectively agree on where the party is going. I think again it's a regrouping. The other technique that I use often is just to summarize. "Let me summarize what I hear you guys are saying," and pull it together for them in front of the other party so that we all get, and correct me if I'm wrong.

Question:
How about conflicts before you get to the table, when you see factions within a coalition?

Answer:
We talk all the issues out. I've had situations where I've had groups of the same organization, all parents, all taking different stances and trying to say, "Wait, wait, wait. Do you want to negotiate all things? What are your principle issues?" It's pretty much like the Native-American tribelets because you end up having to get some kind of consensus of what you are really asking and what is of value to you. If you don't, then you can't go to the table at all because it's just chaos.






Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were there ever any times when there were differences of opinion within the student group?

Answer:
They didn't manifest it at the table. In '96 there were some contentiousness because of non-racial issues. In '92 what they did, like with the Columbus Day issue, was to let the Native Americans take the leadership, and they supported it.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were there any differences among administrators that were evident in the mediation?

Answer:
Not at the meetings, but there were differences. That was part of our working with them. There were some things they needed to work out. Part of the problem was that they had cut back programs. Outreach to the community, training, the numbers of faculty and the recruitment of faculty all had been reduced. They were unable to carry through a lot of the things that were promised to the students, because the legislature had reduced the budget of the university.






Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You mentioned some of the conflicts in the black community among the various parties. I am curious about whether or not you also saw cracks in the white community's side? Were there internal conflicts?

Answer:
In the white community people would say, "I am going to say this but I can't be quoted." They didn't want others to know what they really thought. They'd say, "I can't be quoted, but she's not guilty." Or, "I need to talk to so-and-so." They wouldn't say anything until they found out what was approved to say. Or, they would point you in the direction of some other people with the power in the white community, or point out people who you should avoid. Then you would begin to find out that a lot of the blacks that you thought were being supportive of JoAnn Little hadn't been that supportive at all. The whites would tell you, but then again you'd find out for yourself. Don't take their word for it because they may have a personal reason for saying what they do. You have to find out for yourself .




Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there ever any problem, conflict, or disagreement within one side? Landowners not being able to agree on what they are going to present, or the Native Americans for that matter. Were there internal conflicts as well as external?

Answer:
I can't remember anything specifically, but whenever a party lacks unity around a key issue, as we all know, real negotiation stops at that point until it's sorted out because they're not going to deal with those issues openly in front of the other parties, so I always call a recess. Then I speak to those who are experiencing this kind of problem. They would go into a caucus in private and see if they could work it out, because I don't think we could move forward if there's an issue. But as I said, I don't recall either of the parties having a problem in this particular case.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
When there was a conflict emerging between El Comite and the larger community how might you have resolved that?

Answer:
If there would've been conflict, I would've had to identify from the larger community where that conflict was coming from and then meet with them in order that they could better understand what the other group was really all about. We do that kind of thing to control rumors. I would have to tell the larger community "well, this is their effort, there's nothing to fear, this is what they're trying to resolve as a smaller community group within your community..." I would've had to do it that way.

Question:
Did you have to do that at all?

Answer:
No. And the reason for that I believe again, is city manager was with it, and the chief of police was with us. Because the chief of police was with us, the city manager had to go along with it, as they weren't going to be in conflict. And they're talking to their constituency.

Question:
How about el Comite and the rest of the Chicano community?

Answer:
Since the Chicano community is not that large in that town, they had no problems. And those that weren't a part of it, I'm sure, were observing, and they just chose not to be a part of it.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did they ever have any significant internal conflicts that you needed to deal with?

Answer:
There was only one individual that I thought felt that they weren't getting anything done, and that was only one person. That person was part of the group initially, but he ended up not participating later, he fell out of the loop with the group. He was the only one, though.

Question:
Did he ever try to do anything independently?

Answer:
No.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you see at any time conflict between the organizations?

Answer:
Of course.

Question:
How did you address that conflict?

Answer:
There was conflict between the ministers and the labor union, which represented the sanitation workers. They had authority going beyond them. All the way up to the top of the labor, ASME -- that's the union to which they belonged, and that was the union that was waging the battle. Then there were the preachers, there was the NAACP with its leadership, and the Urban League with its leadership. The NAACP was very strong and had some powerful leadership that was not ministerial. Maxine Smith, who was the executive director of the NAACP and a member of the national board of the NAACP; there was a guy named Jesse Turner, the national treasurer of the NAACP, who was a CPA, but a member of the board, the Tri-State Bank in Memphis, and the insurance company in Memphis, Universal Life, and that was the money. Universal Life and the Tri-state Bank. That's where the movement would put their finances. Then you had the Invaders.

Question:
The community.

Answer:
Yeah. The group of young militants. They always carried crazy names, one name was Cabbagehead, one name was Sweet Willy Wines, and these names. Cabbagehead was the overall leader, Sweet Willy Wines was less of a leader but a leader nonetheless.

Question:
They were young people?

Answer:
Yes, young black men. All 18, 19, 22. All very young.

Question:
So was the conflict between the styles and how they communicated? One group was more militant than the other group? What was the actual conflict?

Answer:
When you came to the Invaders, that was the problem. They didn't believe in non-violence; everybody else believed in non-violence, but the Invaders wanted to use whatever means were necessary to make their point. That was the attitude of the Invaders. The rest of them were where Martin was, in terms of non-violence. But petty jealousies occurred. For instance, the ministers always had lime-light because they were always the ones speaking at the mass meetings at night. Several thousand people were present. "Who's speaking? The preachers are speaking."

Question:
Were you asked to mediate that tension between the two groups, or did it just exist?

Answer:
It just existed, and I was able to move around it. I didn't have time to be trying to heal things between them, because it didn't cause that much of a problem. Most of it was sort of petty jealousies that always exist in conflict situations. I'm used to it, and I expect it. As long as it doesn't last to the point of great division, then you just go ahead and do something else. Anytime three black folk get together, one is contrary, sometimes two.

Question:
Would you say what you did to help it not get to a point?

Answer:
I really didn't have to deal with that very much. You see, it all depends, in these situations, on how present the enemy is. If the enemy is so strong that you don't have time to differ with one another, you have to keep your eyes on the prize and they did that. They knew where the enemy was. They may have different techniques, or differences "Whether we ought to accept this, or not do this, or not do that," but the enemy, in their mind, is so strong and so eager they didn't have time for that sort of thing. I didn't have time for it either.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
I organized a group in Little Rock and they're still a primary organization among blacks in Little Rock, the Leadership Round Table. Now, why you remember the story of the round table and going back to King Arthur, and nobody gets into all this crazy stuff but Ozell. But again, that King Arthur had, you remember, he had a kingdom, a fictitious kingdom, of course, in literature and history, called Camelot. And King Arthur was a just and righteous man and presided over his kingdom with those attributes. And he put around himself a group of stout young warriors, whose job it was to execute justice and righteousness within the kingdom, and they were called the Round Table. They were called The Round Table because there were no superior and inferior, the table was round in that sense and they called themselves the Round Table and they were King Arthur's. And I used the term, and the table round, and sat down. And so the organization I have organized in Little Rock, the Leadership Round Table, would be totally inclusive of all black Leadership. And not to get into the business of pulling people down, because maybe they didn't have the skills to address the situation on a moral basis and they were pleaders. Or, if they were more militant than I was, I said, because there's a time when you need militancy. So, what you do is, you take these groups and you let them perform their function that needs to be done at that time. I sat down with the executive director of the Urban League. He couldn't be a militant, because half of his staff and half of his board are white. That's his trend. The interracial nature of the league. Now that, so you can't take the league and make a NAACP out of it. So I called in the NAACP, the war department, and the Urban League, the state department, negotiators. I said, now there's a place for all of them and that time that we have to go to war, we turn to the NAACP for war.

Question:
And how would you teach a group like that to appreciate the strengths of the others?

Answer:
It's not easy. And even within the group, it rises up sometimes. I remember a couple years ago, they invited me back to speak for their annual meeting and I relayed the times when each one of the units, like the pig and the giraffe played the major role. I said, when George Henry, who was from the Urban League, and I was director of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations at that time, and when we were leaving the sit-ins, we deliberately took two different roles. I was the militant. And sometimes, my only words were, "no". No, no, no, no, no. Sometimes I'd say it ten times. I remember when the whites finally decided to desegregate, but they wanted to do it in stages, right? I jumped up and acted like a cheetah. Beat my breasts and said, "What do you think I am? I do not have the right to tell black folks to postpone their exercise of their legitimate rights. I will not stand for him to go that way." So George Henry came right behind me and we had agreed on this. He said, "Nobody understands Ozell any better than I do. We were in college together, you remember Ozell? We worked at night and I was working at this paper company and you were cooking downtown about three blocks from me," and he goes back into our history. And I said, "Do you remember how we used to catch the bus together and do this together?" So he made this identification. But then he said, "But, it may be that we can do it in stages. Everybody in this room knows that it is quite something for me to differ with Ozell. That's not our character." He said, "But let's do it in stages, Ozell. On Monday, let's desegregate the restaurants. On Wednesday, let's do the hotels. On Friday, let's do the movie theater." Now they were talking about months apart, right? He comes forward with this plan to do it all in one week, but in stages. And they couldn't help but buy it, because this stage business was what they had recommended. But to do it all in one week? So they bought it, because George was so much more conciliatory than I was in that sense. I said, "Well George, I am agreeing to this only because of our personal relationship and because of my love and respect for you. I still don't believe it ought to be done that way." We were so glad to get that deal, right, it wasn't even funny, and we went out of there just laughing.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In the building trades the group couldn’t move, wouldn’t meet, because trust levels were so low. But there was something going on in that coalition, in the building trades coalition, that prevented them from moving forward. That had to be worked out internally without outside intervention or interference. They had to work out their own power struggle internally before they could move forward.

Question:
When you say without outside interference, does that mean without CRS assistance too?

Answer:
You bet. There is a limit. You may be able to help, but you may not. If you are lucky someone will say to you, "You are just going to have to give us time on this.” After a while you learn. When you make a call, and no one responds to you, you know something is going on. People behave in certain ways and you come to recognize it just from having done it. You are calling somebody and they always return your call and now all of a sudden you don’t get a call back. That was true with the St. Cloud situation. I knew something was going on up there that had to be worked out.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there any problem with coordination between the agencies or internal conflicts between the agencies about who was doing what?

Answer:
There probably were, but I can't give you specific examples right now.






Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There was a guy who was very difficult! Even his own clients wanted to kill him. This guy just had this attitude about him that was very disruptive to the process because everything he said was right. And he also had this, 'I'm from New York and I know all about it' attitude. And I don't know if anybody at the table liked him. That's an interesting factor in mediation. I prefer to do mediation without attorneys but you can't always do that. They can mess up a situation as opposed to help the parties. They even had their own clients just really going at the table.

Question:
What were some of the conflicts here? Obviously that's an example of internal conflict.

Answer:
It was almost all attitude. It was that, 'I know what is best for you' and so I'm saying that the police department has to do "X." And the black police officers we're saying "Well we don't have to go that far. That's not necessary. We can do this, and that's going to deal with the problem and that's going to get us where we want to be." And this guy is saying "No, that's not good enough. This is how it's going to be." Not this is a point for discussion. He was saying this is how it's going to be or we're going back to court. So we were constantly stopping and taking caucuses, you know breaking them into four different groups, because of the conflict between this guy and his own clients, the people from the black police officers organization. There never was anybody there from the NAACP, the local chapter. It was always the legal defense from the NAACP representing the black police officers organization. I remember the mayor's guy said, "look we're just going to leave and give you a piece of paper. You write out the agreement. We'll sign it in the morning." Just irritating. Everybody just lived with it through the thing. I mean eventually, I don't know, common sense won out. His clients would talk to him. His co-counsel was always talking to him. The mediators took him out and we'd caucus with him and tell him lighten up, lighten up, lighten up because you are going to screw this thing up. And everybody kept pounding at the guy and eventually just overwhelmed him I guess or something. You know you just want to kill somebody. And he had that attitude.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Were there ever internal conflicts within a group?

Answer:
Well, there would have been in terms of whether they should continue, get involved, or to what level. I couldn't read those. They didn't come to my attention. I'm sure there were certainly conflicts among the African Americans as to whether they were going to get involved at all. There was never enough cohesiveness among the white general population to call it a group. The members couldn't form a group. The attacking group just disintegrated, people drifted away. I think people liked what was going on. They got out of the box, they could sit across the table from "the man," and some better things were happening. Even if they were only creature comforts, and weren't the most important things in their lives, by the time we were done they got some attention to some of their critical issues as well.






Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever run into trouble where the people who were on the designated team were not accepted by the other people outside?

Answer:
I think there was care enough in putting the teams together by the group that I don't recall that happening. CRS followed a process of closed sessions. I remember once we were about to convene the first session with a tribe and the sheriff's department. In addition to the five or six team members, a tribal council member who was a very articulate, strong person but who wasn't on the team, insisted that she and one or two others be allowed to sit in. I did my best to explain that everybody has come together here on the understanding that these were going to be closed sessions, and I pushed for abiding by that understanding. But the tribal council member didn't buy it. I think I suggested a recess, and asked if I could sit down with the tribal folks. In a caucus we talked it over, and she was allowed to sit in. I guess I must have talked to the sheriff's folks too-- their team of three or four. It was decided it really wasn't worth excluding that good lady.







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