Agency-related information


Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In the end, all of our work is moving toward ending the discriminatory practices or perceived discrimination and in building relations between and among people.



Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

That was why right from the beginning when we set up the conflict resolution program back in 1970-1971, we pulled together all the types of experiences we had as an agency and codified them so that we had a more uniform and proven process. Then we buttressed that by referencing in writing, "We did this in X city or Y city." Even though the individual mediator or conciliator has not had all that experience or gone through that particular conflict, he or she can cite what the agency has done or what we're doing. The more current the experiences or examples of CRS effectiveness, the better impact they have on both authorities and the community.



Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Is CRS the only federal agency that addresses race relations in this way?

Answer:
Well, I think that CRS is the only one that deals with race relations in a prevention and response type of capacity. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission does investigations and hearings and comes up with educational products. They have not been as powerful in race lately as they were at one time.Most of the civil rights resources in the federal and state governments are for enforcement. And enforcement is the corollary to ours, the hand maid. You have to know and believe our laws are going to be enforced. So there is a backstop. They need to be there so that they give a signal to police departments and to others that our laws are going to be enforced. But the most important aspect of civil rights in any country is compliance, compliance with the law. That's what we are, we're a compliance agency that's getting people to abide by the civil rights laws of this country. In doing that, it involves getting at what are the underlying ways by which people are being discriminated against. It's often very difficult to prove in a court of law that it's there: when we have segregated communities giving out messages they don't want minorities; when we have schools that still don't outreach to kids of color; or when they're in there, they don't provide them the necessary support and assistance. All these forms of discrimination that are out there perhaps cannot be dealt with by laws. Laws help us in setting parameters of what is allowed and not allowed, but the vision is something which people like Robert Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had regarding race relations. And I think Clinton tried to put it out there. But we don't have the support across the country to do that. That's where we're failing as a country, even though we're so much further ahead than some of the other countries that don't have the structure to deal with discrimination.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

At the time, the agency was more involved in providing technical assistance to communities in the forms of economic development, education, law enforcement, and one other area. In cases that existed before our group started coming into effect, they would respond. But it was the kind of response where you went and you just hoped you did the right thing. There was no background training to this. I think that whatever we each brought from other agencies, we sort of applied it to what CRS wanted to do. Then with our group, we developed a mediation training program for six months, using various people already in the field, like George Nicholau and St. Louis University. At the time, they had a pretty good outfit.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But about 1972 or 1973, the axe fell and we lost a great number of staff people. Nationwide, I think we initially had roughly four hundred staff people, and we were cut down a lot. When we got chopped up, of course they went by the amount of time each person had with that agency, so I lost my position and stepped down to Conciliator.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

From then on, until about 1986, I feel that we did a good job in staying true to the purpose for which we were originally created. From 1986 on, as the agency became even smaller yet, my own feeling is that at that point, we got interested solely with numbers.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Oh, the high profile would probably be less than ten percent. And at one point, when we started actually looking at dispute resolution, which was in 1973 after the agency was reduced from two hundred and fifty to about a hundred and twenty five or so. And we started looking at a dispute resolution program and at that time, we looked at it simply as a conciliation effort, we didn't look at mediation until perhaps the early eighties, I guess, as something that we wanted to do. We also looked at mediation as a way of promoting our people. Our highest grade at the time was a GS-13 (Government Service pay level) and we wanted to promote people to a GS-14, which meant an additional $5,000. We also wanted a sort of a deputy, because we were so small and people had stayed with us. We wanted to find a way, and so we created the position called mediator and we specifically trained those people to be mediators and their outcome was a written agreement.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Very few times did I ever work with anybody else.

Question:
Is that typical for CRS?

Answer:
No, just circumstances. I was out here by myself, a lot of times I had colleagues, they had their cases, I had mine. And the other part of that is that we've been so short of staff, CRS hasn't been up to staff numbers, whatever that is, in thirty or forty years.

Question:
Did you ever talk to other people, if you were on a case by yourself? Did you call up somebody in another region and say, "I need to play some ideas off against you?"

Answer:
We did that all the time. Then of course on big cases, you were together with somebody else. But in most of these instances you went out by yourself because there weren't two people to go out with you. And that was just it. You didn't have two people. Unless you had the big cases like Wounded Knee, where you took up all the agency's resources to talk about going out with a bunch of people though it's never happen, or very seldom.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS was established under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in 1972 moved into mediation. Mediation training was provided for one mediator and the regional director from each region. We spent two weeks training in New York and Washington, with former labor mediators who had moved into the community field through a Ford Foundation-funded program with the American Arbitration Association. We were trained for two weeks, returned to our offices and the new mediators were assigned a supervisor out of Washington. Regional Directors were told to find one case to "get your feet wet.”

Question:
Now when you say "we,” are you saying the Regional Directors were the mediators, or were the Regional Directors and other people trained to be mediators?

Answer:
There were two rounds of training. The first was for the mediators in the field. The second round of training was for the Regional Directors, so they’d be equipped to do the work as well. Then mediators were told to identify a case suitable for mediation for themselves. The case I found and developed lasted for the better part of the year. It was an extraordinary experience.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You don't think there are places where you could get that now?

Answer:
Yeah, there probably are. But whether these techniques would work there, I don't know. Also, CRS was a little unrealistic because I was on the government payroll, as were my people, so nobody had to worry about who paid us. That's a real factor when you're doing these kinds of disputes and this kind of work outside of a government setting. Who pays you? You need a foundation, you need to find out, and instead of haggling or figuring out who gets what, that adds a dimension that makes it more difficult.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You were saying that there are several documents that CRS has that might be worth referring to on this website.

Answer:
In terms of this becoming a resource to people who are interested in responding to race relations, or racial conflict, there is one little booklet that is just a gold mine. It is just like a little pamphlet that is a municipal guide. It says that in a municipality, you are being pro-active on these elements, you are much less likely to come into racial tensions that are going to escalate into violence. You are going to have difficulties, but you are going to have a way of responding. If you are pro-active, you put systems in place to respond. Then your reaction to some incident could be, "It's okay, we understand that's a problem. This is where you go to get redressed for that." A couple of the cases generated publications that were guides to racial tension on campus. There's one on lending practices for community banking groups. There is a notebook that was put together to kind of capture the history of how the agency has responded, like riot or boycott situations. Basically, the whole thing is generated on responding to violence and then the different kinds of ways that the agency has been involved in that. There's a handbook on developing housing and responding to discrimination in housing. That looks at the HUD law that was in place at the time. It would have to be reviewed for updates, but it had what was in place at the time and what the community should do in order to have good redress for housing discrimination. So there are several documents like that. They may not be appropriate to put on the web, but it would be appropriate to say in responding to civil rights violations, that these are some resources the agency has. You can contact them for help, because they are really internal tools. They are tools of the trade the agency uses.

Question:
Do they hand the pamphlets out?

Answer:
Now they do, the municipal guide is a public document. And again, I can give you that because it is a public document that was generated and sent out to the public. But most everything else I described were internal tools to help new people see the history and the basis of the work. We did training based on that violence notebook to bring the veteran staff and the new staff together and let them teach and learn from each other. It was a really nice mix of that material, plus the veterans and the new people learning from each other.




Renaldo Rivera


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Was that an agency policy to look for that climate, that environment?

Answer:
It had been in my prior experience, but it is in the agency work. I think there is a two-step process in the CRS manual for conciliators set up many years ago, which has recently been updated, but it's in there as well. I had the good fortune of when I came on board of having a chance to look through the old stuff. These are good materials, so it had been there.

Question:
At that first meeting where you presented the CRS text, how did you get information about the community?

Answer:
People will tell you, once they've let you in and you talk about what you do. If you're willing to talk less and listen more, people who agree will begin to tell you what the history of that community is. There is very little probing that one actually has to do. People will tell you if you don't present yourself as being able to solve their problem, but instead as being able to facilitate and work along with them and for them to be able to work through their problems, and you're a resource for that to happen as opposed to the expert that's going to tell them how to do it. You're just getting them to make the better decisions and strategies and you're available to them, as well as to local officials. Then, people start telling you about their community. And that's pivotal because the understanding of previous events, racial incidents, or ethnic conflicts in that city and how they were responded to them, gives you a much better contextualization for the current conflict and maybe some of the reasons there is resistance to any progressive solutions.






Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

And most of the guys in CRS did real well. I could come up with name after name of people who were just outstanding. In this agency, I mean say what you want to, but this was one of the best investments that the federal government ever made in anything. The only thing that I regret is that they didn't let us become a Bureau and have autonomy to the point to where you really could have gotten some things done. But despite all that, you have people here who have managed to do so well and put some things together that were incredible. And it keeps a lot of people from getting hurt, seriously. We could have had a lot of genocidal stuff going down if it wasn't for CRS, and that's the bottom line.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Could you briefly tell us if there's an area that you feel CRS was most or least effective in and why is that? I remember you saying that CRS, given the right tools, could have done, could have had a great impact on society. Why didn't they?

Answer:
Well, sometimes because of budgetary constraints, we had to cut certain things short. We had to leave a situation because we had put too many man hours and dollars into it and so it was time to get off this case. There was a lot of money being spent on some cases. But if we were allowed to stay and the funds were, while maybe not unlimited, at least a little bit more extensive, we could have been more effective in certain situations. And in training, we were allocated so many bucks for training in a certain situation, if we had had more time and the money was allocated just a little bit more liberally, we could have done some good training in certain areas. Like I trained here a lot, but there were other communities that asked me to come and do some training in the area of conflict resolution and corrections, and we didn't have the money for that. Now we did get to Eagle County and did the kind of training that they wanted, but there were other places we didn't get to. Not only did you get requests from officialdom, you got the request from communities. And the other thing was that I thought that we could have spent more money in letting the overall community know about the role of CRS. Some people, no matter what you've done or no matter how long you've done it, "You're with the community what? And you did what?" And if you tell people about what you did sometimes, they don't believe you. Not that I really care, but I think we should have had more, people should have become much more educated about what we did. They know about the FBI. They should have known about us. Why couldn't we spend more money on public relations?

Question:
Did all of the regions have the same budget?

Answer:
Well each region might have been allocated, some regions because of a certain situation that might have been going on in that region, might have been allocated a little bit more. For example, there were occasions when we were allocated more money because of Wounded Knee, for example. But none of us had enough money for public relations. If we had allowed the opportunity for people to at least become aware of what we did, we could have gotten more money because people would say, "They're the group that really resolved that thing up there."




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Yeah. I had started with CRS in March of '72 and then in '73 CRS underwent a major riff. Before '73 we had close to 400 people and then in '73 we went down to just a little bit over a 100. So all of our field offices were closed, there had been about 40 of them, at least one in most of the major urban centers. But we had to shut those down and go down to only 6 regional offices instead of 10. But Boston and Denver, which had been field offices before became regional offices to coincide with the traditional federal regions. The only reason that I survived that riff, being the new kid on the block in New York, relatively speaking, was that I was willing to take a transfer to Boston.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Do you have the resources to do that?

Answer:
No and yes, as an agency, no, I don't think CRS with four conciliators are enough to adequately serve four states --- Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada. Spending too much time in any one school is difficult. Each conciliator has to weigh his or her caseload and determine where one's time has the most impact and need. Yes, in the sense that , if you collaborate with other local agencies and build their capacity, CRS , at times, has been able to often cover multiple cases.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

In Region 9 we cover Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and California. California being the largest state, and Los Angeles County with 10 million being really the most concentrated area, which is why we're located right here in Los Angeles. The headquarters has said we need to empower and build capacity of local communities, and that's one of the only ways we're going to be able to properly provide service because you can't be everywhere. If you build the local capacity of a community to have its own ability to resolve conflicts, then we will basically go to the key crisis where they are big and wide enough that our services are needed.

Question:
How do you do that?

Answer:
Well, there are a couple things that I've done. I looked at what infrastructure there is within the states. In California, there is an organization called the School Law Enforcement Partnership Cadre. It consists of 50 law enforcement related positions or officers and 50 educators and school administrators, who work collectively. They are spread out geographically throughout California to work on addressing school violence, and violence prevention. They are excellent partners for me. When the shooting happened at Santana High School in San Diego County -- I think there were 13 shot and two killed -- my inclination was to first go and meet with people who work in the School Law Enforcement Cadre. I have an excellent counterpart there with the San Diego county office of education. He works in the area of violence prevention and intervention. So I moved to his operation and very quickly got a briefing on what's going on, where's it located, how do I get there, what's the circumstance, what's his position, what's their role at this point? Then I move on to the scene and relay back to his organization what we need, and begin to organize our whole crisis response to that situation. Having these partners throughout the State is really helpful. And I've trained the Cadre in different things that we do, to give them the skills to help empower school districts address some of their own racial conflicts. I've also joined the board of the California Association of Human Relations Organizations, which is the state network for all the human relations commissions in the state of California. Again this is a critical resource in terms of knowing where the human relations commissions are. They give two training seminars, one in Northern California, one in Southern California, which I try to participate in or network, so that whenever a situation occurs, we have partners to work with and we can also train these organizations. I've trained the Riverside Human Relations Commission in mediation. I've trained them in dealing with Study Circles dialogues as diffusion tactics and techniques. We took our SPIRIT program and trained the human relations commission to work with, Students Problem Identifying and Resolving Issues Together (SPIRIT). Programs like SPIRIT can be provided within the schools; it enhances their capability, and it also means that we're touching more people. That's the way I try to respond. There's a question that you ask: What is the long term benefit that we try to leave a community when we go into a situation? One of the objectives of CRS is to leave a mechanism to address the conflict and to try to give them the capability to resolve the conflict on their own. So that's a big part, I think, of what we attempt to do. By honing in the skills of the local community, we in a sense, give them a long-term mechanism to resolve conflict.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What percentage of your work time do you put into school districts and school cases?

Answer:
I'm probably doing close to 50% of my casework in schools for a couple of reasons. One is because of the network that is out there referring things to me. Two, I was a teacher. I worked for the Department of Education and I believe that if CRS is going to bring systemic change to race relations in our society you have to take advantage of a captive audience and you have to work with young people at an early stage, early enough to change attitudes, values, and relations. I just feel that if CRS is really going to make a change we have to get into the school systems. And then in this area, if I were to do an analysis of where race relations turns to violence, it's going to be in the high schools. The elementary school kids don't care. Most of the time they just want to play. They want to do what they want to do and so forth. Junior high school they're beginning to realize their ethnicity and they are starting to act it out, but they are more want-to-bes than doers. By the time you get into high school it's not about play. It's about you either do it or you don't do it. That is where the action has been. When you get out of high school and you're an adult you are either a thug or you are working, you're surviving and doing those things to improve your lives. The racial behaviors are not as provocative and as violent and they work in different ways. They know the other systems and resources for fighting discrimination. So when CRS attempt to assess where it needs to deter racial issues, the high schools are probably a strong candidate. During the civil unrest of 1992 we actually went into the schools and did strategic debriefings of high school students to talk about what options they had in terms of their behaviors, after, say, the O.J. Simpson trials. We had just faced the 1992 civil unrest and we had to have students aware of other options, more constructive ways of getting their message across other than going into the streets and causing conflict. We went into a lot of schools and did that kind of debriefing. We also did an assessment as we went along and we wrote up an assessment of what the attitudes were in the different schools and what was the likelihood of students participating in violence, what were the gangs doing and how destructive they were. We gave a briefing to the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) about our findings and since then the LAPD does a lot of work with the high school students in terms of assessing community tensions.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.





Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS has survived, but the actual work hasn't. Now it's solely a kind of thing where the agency provides what they call technical assistance and maybe something that might relate to what was known as mediation, but there's not the same kind of involvement. Maybe the times are different.



Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Yeah, we wore CRS caps. It was a blue cap with a yellow CRS on it. And they wanted us to wear those silly jackets with CRS emblazoned all over them but we didn't.

Question:
When you say "we"...Washington?

Answer:
No, "we" is my partner and I. But Washington was insistent on it, not so we could be identified so the cops didn't shoot us, but to advertise that CRS was involved. So we, when I say "we," I can only talk for me and my partner, I don't know what the other ones did. I suspect that most of them didn't want to wear them and didn't. But we refused to wear them. You know, get the cap so that someone can see that there are some officials involved. I usually wore a T- shirt like this and at night I wore a white one, not a black one and during the day, color so that you're visible. That's all we did as far as special clothing.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

At the time, I think I need to point out, as I suspect others have, that CRS had very little in the way of training programs. At the time, the training programs consisted of an individual going to Washington and visiting the various offices and various individuals telling us what they did and the type of programs we were carrying out, and the fact that you were hired and that you brought certain expertise and that you were going to be a member of that team. That was it.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So now would you say that it's typical of CRS to find their role in various conflicts now, as opposed to in the past, that organizations and groups have come to CRS and asked for their involvement?

Answer:
Some of that is CRS itself. CRS, first of all, has never had sufficient resources with which to provide the service. Currently, with only 41 people, and even when I was here I had a staff of nine people, we would pick and choose. Now you really have to pick and choose, and pick and choose only those situations in which you almost have to prove to yourself or tell yourself, or come to some conclusion that you're going to be successful. That's all you can do. There's just not that many people on staff.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

So over a period of time, were there any cases that you felt CRS should have been involved in, but didn't become involved in because of resources or time, or other reasons?

Answer:
A lot of cases, particularly those in smaller communities, in Indian country, where it costs a lot of dollars just to travel to those areas. We could fly to the Dakotas for $200. Now it's $900 to fly to the Dakotas. To Montana, $700 to $900. And this is the government fare. So that impacts how we work. If we make the trip in there, we want to make sure that we're going to be there two or three days, or be there five days and handle five cases.

Question:
Were there cases in which CRS was involved where you felt that they had no business, or had no role, or really no impact?

Answer:
There were some cases, not a lot, but there were some cases in which clearly race and ethnicity were not issues. Sometimes, it was a black on black, Latino and Latino, white on white, and we just didn't belong there. Sometimes we were misled in that we would get a call from a Latino or a black or an Indian, and we assumed that because they knew who we were and we had some type of history, that this was a case and sometimes we'd even be on the scene and then we'd make a determination that there's nothing that we could do.

Question:
And how quickly were you able to assess that?

Answer:
Generally, very quickly.

Question:
And were you able to remove yourself simply by excusing yourself and saying, "Hey, we really don't belong here"?

Answer:
No. We'd tell them, this is not within our mandate, and given our resources, there's no way we can. But, I think we would identify somebody who might be able to provide the resource.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS has always had a media policy. We've always also had a media team of no fewer than two people and sometimes more than that. And the policy generally is that the publicity associated with the dispute belongs to the parties and it's up to the mediator to work out a system with them as to how they're going to handle publicity. Sometimes the mediator will obtain permission to be the spokesperson all the way through to a resolution. And typically say nothing. Other than, "We met today and we looked at issues," and "We're making progress," or, "We're not making progress." And that, eventually, when we come to an agreement, when there is an agreement, we will help them, through our media specialist, for a news release, or help them do a news conference. At the same time, they will handle the interviews and we will also counsel them as to how much to say and how much not to say.



Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Do you see the role of CRS as being an advocate for the minority community?

Answer:
Only by the fact that our mandate states that services will be provided by CRS in racial disputes. If there was violence in the street and the issues were not racial, then this government would have formed a CRS-like organization that would have served everybody. We solve disputes through law enforcement, we solve them through education and through all of these other systems that serve our society. It is only when there is a community- wide racial dispute that an organization such as CRS has the mandate to respond. And government officials obviously don't see it as that high of a priority because you only have 41 offices throughout the country.




Julian Klugman


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I knew Ben Holman, he was a personal friend of mine, that's how I came to CRS.

Question:
And who was Ben Holman?

Answer:
Ben Holman was the director of CRS for 8 years. CRS was a project of Lyndon Johnson's. The idea was to set up a mediation service to deal with problems that had come out of the 1964 Civil Rights Act regarding interstate commerce. They thought when the hotels and public accommodations integrated, they were going to have a lot of lawsuits, a lot of problems. Lyndon Johnson had been Vice President. His way was mediation, although the '64 act was really bi- partisan. There were more Republicans voting for the act than Democrats. People don't remember that. It was Senator Dirksen from Illinois, and the majority of the republicans voted for it, not the democrats. You had the southern Democrats who at that time all voted against it. But they broke the filibuster and passed the '64 act. But what happened, basically, is that businesses in the South, with a few notable exceptions, complied. They knew they would have to do it; it made good business sense; they did it. The young students had gone out there and made it very clear they weren't going to put up with anything else. These were real heroes, the people on the buses. I lived in Little Rock in 1957 just before the Governor got up on the steps of Central High School. CRS was formed in 1964 and a year later the Watts riots in Los Angeles in 1965 changed the whole ball game. Leroy Collins was the first director. CRS was put in the Commerce Department because they thought it would handle public accommodations, and when that didn't happen, they moved CRS over to the Justice Department, and Collins was promoted up to Under Secretary of Commerce. Then they brought in Roger Wilkins who was the nephew of the head of NAACP (Roy Wilkins). He became director and he was the protegee of the Deputy Attorney General of the United States. Then Ben Holman was hired. I met Ben when I got out of the army in 1957. I moved into Prairie Shores in Chicago, which was really the first high rise integrated building. Ben was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and we worked together in the Independent Voters of Illinois. We were both very idealistic and we became close friends. Years later Ben became director of Community Relations Service. I had just gone out to Seattle, and he offered me a job. So I went to work for CRS.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there ever a time where you were used as a scapegoat for one of the parties?

Answer:
Very seldom. I wouldn't allow it. Now there were times when I was willing to be the scapegoat. There were times, not just me, but there were times within CRS, when we had allowed ourselves to be the scapegoats for certain things that happened. It wasn't just my situation, but us mediators all over the country, sometimes we foresaw that it was best to have people put the blame on us about a certain thing. And so regional directors like Salem, Bob Lamb, Ozell Sutton, and Ed O'Connell, wrote that into the scenario. After we discussed strategy with the regional director, they might say, "Let them blame us for that." And that's the way that went. You listened to your director, and your director would make sound determination that, "Hey, we're going to be used like this. We're going to allow this to happen." It all depended on the situation. Like in Wounded Knee, there were certain things that happened that we were blamed for. We were blamed for babysitting the Indians. We were blamed by the law enforcement and stuff like that for being babysitters and things like that.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there ever a time where you were used as a scapegoat for one of the parties?

Answer:
Very seldom. I wouldn't allow it. Now there were times when I was willing to be the scapegoat. There were times, not just me, but there were times within CRS, when we had allowed ourselves to be the scapegoats for certain things that happened. It wasn't just my situation, but us mediators all over the country, sometimes we foresaw that it was best to have people put the blame on us about a certain thing. And so regional directors like Salem, Bob Lamb, Ozell Sutton, and Ed O'Connell, wrote that into the scenario. After we discussed strategy with the regional director, they might say, "Let them blame us for that." And that's the way that went. You listened to your director, and your director would make sound determination that, "Hey, we're going to be used like this. We're going to allow this to happen." It all depended on the situation. Like in Wounded Knee, there were certain things that happened that we were blamed for. We were blamed for babysitting the Indians. We were blamed by the law enforcement and stuff like that for being babysitters and things like that.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think his fears were similar to what most institutions’ fears are. He was afraid that they were going to be diminished. It was looking like they would have to get somebody in there to do their job, and that was part of why this worked. We didn’t take credit, and that's why the CRS organization has such a hard time selling itself to congress. You can’t sell the fact that we avoided a riot. You can’t sell the idea that we now have students on this campus who feel like they have redress. You get lots of money flooding into Los Angeles when there’s a riot. But it’s hard to get them to appropriate money to avoid a riot. Then the commitment of the CRS mandate was that we would do this as low-profile, and it wouldn’t work otherwise. If we were showboating and taking credit then the institutions would have to worry. Their interests wouldn't be protected, and they wouldn't be as forthcoming. But if we really are there as an instrument of change, with everyone’s interests at heart then you have power to make things happen for them. If your interest is to get credit, then their interest is diminished and the next leader is not going to let you in. It's really a catch-22 and I'm not sure what the good answer is.



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You talked a couple of times, off tape, about how you assessed whether a case was worthy of your time. You said that one aspect was a potential for violence and another was the potential to make systemic change. Was this AART a tool that you used to make that determination?

Answer:
Yes, as far as the violence part of it. One of the potential goals of it was to routinely go into a community and do an assessment. Like every three years.

Question:
Even if there hadn't been a situation?

Answer:
Even if there hadn't been an incident.

Question:
So did you go into all sorts of institutions?

Answer:
Oh yes. All the institutions were identified, as well as community systems. And it included everything: city government, schools, housing, employment, police, law enforcement.

Question:
Did this meet with any resistence?

Answer:
No, not really. When they realized that it was internal and it wasn't going to become a part of some national paper, that said these are the highest violent cities in the country. You could lose a lot of credibility there. "The long term goal is: how can we help communities be pro-active?" We know these things need to be in place, and we know that the community leadership needs to have confidence in these things in order to reduce the potential for violence. So if we can help you be pro-active in developing these systems and educating the community on how to use them and have confidence in them, then it's good for you.

Question:
How many cities did you use?

Answer:
Oh, hundreds. For the two or three years we used it, we did it all over the country. Every conciliator did at least two a year, so probably a hundred a year. That's one of the reason's people didn't like it. It began to codify and kind of move toward more deliberate responses. Although the history of the agency had been that they perceived themselves as lone rangers, just doing their own thing, a pattern had developed in their methods. That consistency was there when I talked to all of them. But they didn't like the way it felt when we wrote it down.






Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

And I'm serious as a heart attack, because all of us had respect for each other and we basically knew when to come in and when not to come in, and what to say and what not to say to each other as comrades. We basically understood that and that's why we function so well out there. I'd never go into Manny Salinas' case and jump in there not knowing what in the heck's going on. Because I know he'd go, "What are you doing?" And that's that simple. I don't care if he did read the book ["Getting to Yes"] or any of the rest of that stuff. We didn't do that. We respected each other. And then once we began to talk about it, the next thing you know, we ended up developing strategies on how we would work together. And that almost always happened. It's one thing about CRS people: they have internal respect for one another to the point where we always ended up developing strategies with each other, not against each other. And then the next thing you know, somebody had a piece of this, somebody had a piece of that and it was a group activity. That's what we did. Like Wounded Knee. At Wounded Knee, each person had a role, and few, if any, individuals out of twenty or thirty of us running around up there, were not respecting the role of another person. And we debriefed each other at night and discussed what was going on, and made the assignments for the next day.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS was known as sort of a maverick operation, simply because we didn't function just according to the book as to how things would go. Not to disrespect the books, but it was better this way because we had to develop specific strategy based on each individual situation.






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