Descriptions of CRS institutional programs


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.



Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Let's talk now about the media.

Answer:
Well, the media project wasn't necessarily a conflict, though it sort of was a conflict. The way we started this whole thing was back in 1969 or early '70 a previous CRS person noted that the Hispanic community was being totally left out of the media. CRS was working on special programs at the time, so he started a media project. He suggested that a group of media people and Hispanics get together to talk about ways in which Hispanics could be represented more in the media. But then he was transferred to Dallas, and I got his job. I followed up on his starting work. So I identified agency people -- because they're the ones who had the resources -- agency people that might be interested in understanding what radio and TV is all about, the FCC regulations and so on. We came together at the post office in downtown Denver and we had at least forty people there. They were interested, so I brought in a person that knew FCC law to explain it to them further. He explained about the citizens' rights -- that the airwaves belong to the citizens and not the companies and so on. They were very much interested in it because they were concerned about lack of employment opportunity for Hispanics in radio and TV. The group was formed immediately because they were so interested in the issue. They called it the Colorado Committee on Mass Media of Spanish Surnames. I brought in a professor from Metro State that was interested in media, and then we brought in people who knew even more about media in Denver. They had a round table discussion on it and then the committee spread out to go to the various TV and radio stations to look at their licenses. At that time the license renewal was every three years. At that time the community had the right to protest. Now I think it's seven years, or nine years, or twelve, they've extended it so much. However, it was only three years then, so the committee members went to the various stations and looked at their licenses and found out how many Hispanics they had working for them. They found that there were hardly any Hispanics at all, on or off the camera. So they came in and they went over the whole thing again and talked about strategies to approach the problem. There was another group in Washington D.C. that was even stronger than the group that we had identified initially. It was called "Citizens Communication" and they had attorneys helping them. Also, the United Church of Christ was much involved in communications at that time too. So CRS paid for some people from Citizens Communication to come in to Denver and to explain how they could help the Denver group, what they could do for them. Then they returned to Washington to begin preparing some documents -- they already had a boiler plate of something they could do. In the meantime the group had a conference on mass media in Denver. So they ended up with two conferences -- one followed the other. At the second one they broadened the constituency group: the Indian group came into it and the black group came into it. The first conference was primarily Hispanic. Because they're the ones who were leading it. By the time of the second conference, the larger group was about ready to file a complaint. By then it was a mixed group -- even the American Indian movement was there. We had it at one of the colleges there in Denver. So we had a large group and a lot of publicity on it and the Colorado Broadcasters Association became concerned. They even had their own meeting, saying who are these people, and what are we going to do, because they're really beginning to challenge us. Sure enough, we did file a lawsuit. That happened because one company was going to purchase five stations and there's something in the law that one company can't dominate the media. That company had publications and everything else, and now they were trying to purchase five radio stations too. One was in Denver, and that was the wrong place to choose it, because we had the media group really going strong then. They were also purchasing one in San Diego, one in Bakersfield, one in Indianapolis, Indiana and one other place that I don't recall. But our group, along with Citizens Communications challenged the purchase of these stations and filed complaints against these stations for their lack of minority participation. And we also filed a case saying that the company could not purchase five stations, they could purchase three. We won; the court went along with it. From that time then, all the stations began to open up and say, "Well what can we do?" What happened with the company, is they only bought three stations, not five. Also they identified a person who coordinated their activities with our Colorado committee. That coordinator became like a spokesman for them, and he provided resources to the Colorado committee. So he became a little more knowledgeable about what was going on in the stations. In the meantime the stations formed Hispanic committees, and black Committees, and the TV stations did too. All those established committees and they would meet with those committee people and they would foot the bill for everything. Those committees began to explain what their priorities were what their objectives were for changing the media in Colorado to be more inclusive.

Question:
These were made up of citizens?

Answer:
Citizens of the minority groups. I thought that was great -- and that's why you saw all sorts of changes all of a sudden. There were programming changes and personnel changes and so on. I still don't think they did as much as they could've done, but nonetheless they got something done. And they got results and even though CRS didn't mediate, per se, they provided enough resources and enough consultants to educate the committee. And the committee, since they were agency people, understood it quickly and moved quickly on it.

Question:
So this is another instance where CRS empowered the local citizens to help themselves.

Question:
Now this description makes it sound as if CRS was playing more of an advocacy role than a neutral role.

Answer:
Yeah, under the program activity. I think you're right, I think that's probably why they decided that maybe we shouldn't do project programs. Later they decided that perhaps that would not be a wise thing to do and maybe they got too far away from the letter of the law of CRS, that's probably what happened. Also, the media doesn't like being challenged. Nor the newspapers. I think they might've said something and that might have brought it to light someone said to CRS, "you can't do this". Or "you should not do this." They didn't scold us but they eliminated.

Question:
Was this before or after mediation was introduced?

Answer:
This was after. In other words mediation was is according to the law. Mediation is there already, and this came after. I think the directors felt that perhaps projects like the media one would help prevent conflict in some manner. In other words if there was a housing project or a housing program that you could implement, that would limit future conflicts. Even if there wasn't a current conflict, if there's a way to improve it and have a stronger citizen group in that housing project and money flowing properly, then problems can be avoided. But like I said they later decided not to proceed with that whole area.

Question:
That came down from Washington?

Answer:
That came down from our office. If it was from up above we wouldn't know, but our office said that we're going to eliminate that. And then the reduction in force occurred, and we didn't have enough people to work on projects anyway. We went from three hundred people nationwide to only a hundred and some. So then all we did was mediation.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

For example, if it's just that you can't get a job, that's one thing. But if you get shot by the police, that's a high level of disparity. If it's that your kids don't get into the Talented and Gifted program, that's bad, but if all of them end up in special ed, that's really egregious. Again, if the people don't perceive any disparity, it doesn't matter. There's not going to be any violence. They have to perceive the disparity for it to be potentially violent. So we created this instrument, called the Annual Appraisal of Racial Tensions (AART), out of these dynamics. Gill Pompa was the one that initiated it and when he was gone, a lot of the regional directors hated doing it, so it died. But it was a good instrument. We did good research in getting it together and it was a good indicator. The only thing was that there were no real standards how many factors, how high does it go? We could say, eight of the nine systems don't have redress, so that's pretty high potential, but we never could get beyond low potential for violence, moderate or high. There was no real way in grading that any closer than that.



Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS put out a publication, "Desegregation Without Turmoil" in the mid '70s. That was our approach. In the South we developed "Project 81." CRS did that in 1969 when we sent teams to communities throughout the South to assist them with the desegregation process when the Supreme Court said in 1969, "Desegregate now." We recruited a number of new staff members and sent a number of teams to the South. This infusion of new staff helped build our agency while CRS helped the desegregation process to take place with a minimum of resistance and violence. In the North, before I came up here to Boston, CRS had assisted Prince Georges County to implement the court-ordered desegregation of their schools without problems. There was a lot of political opposition, but we reached out to the opposition, reasoned with them, and said, "You may be against school desegregation; but if you resist, someone's going to get hurt. You don't want to have that." We helped build the environment around that common thread-avoid violence. The ideology might not have been there in that they didn't think it was the proper process. But most of the communities, like Prince Georges County, accepted CRS's approach of avoiding violence. They accepted CRS assistance and we helped them implement the desegregation process, by and large, without violence or turmoil.



Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

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.






Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

CRS is an agency with ten regions. At that time field representatives worked in about five basic areas. Doing conflict resolution. At that time, the director took the position that if we could improve economic development, education, housing, administration of justice, and other areas, we would resolve a lot of conflicts within the minority community.

Question:
When did you start?

Answer:
1971, as a field representative. We were the foot soldiers, who were out doing all these types of things. But, there was not just an emphasis on conflict resolution, but on total specialties, housing, economic development, so forth.




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."







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