When did you begin working as a mediator or conciliator for
Latter part of 1968.
When did you leave?
I left December, 1988. So it's been a while.
What did you do before joining CRS?
I was with the war on poverty program a jobs program called SER. I was the state director
for SER for the state of Colorado.
What is SER?
Service, Employment and Rehabilitation. It was a manpower program under the war on
poverty program. You trained people to prepare for jobs, we gave people typing skills and so on.
And we got into all types of training for employment and helped people phase in from our
program to employment. Then the employment agencies would call us and say, "Hey do you
have anybody that might be ready for employment and has a work ethic already" that we've been
working with? then we branched out into very skilled areas, not only typing, but maybe
electronics, or something on that order that person would be semi-skilled before he goes to work
for the employer.
Ironically, the director of CRS for the Denver region came into the
office one day, saying that his secretary was ill for a couple days, and that he needed something
typed. So I said "sure, my secretary can do it." So she did the work and I started talking to him
because we were long time friends and I asked him, "What's going on?" He said, "well I'm
getting ready to open up an office in Dallas. And we're going to have Denver as a field office.
And Dallas is going to be the regional office, so that's great. "So are you recruiting here," I
asked? I just happened to mention it and he said "yes." I saw an opening, because I'd already
been in civil service before, so I thought "well from here I can go back in and then build my civil
service retirement on that." Not thinking of retirement really, I was too young then, but just
building. Sure enough, I was selected out of a group of five people. So that's how I got into
When you were at SER did you do any kind of conflict work,
conflict management, or conflict resolution?
No, not really, it was more just management and budgeting, time keeping, working with
private industry for employment opportunities for the people that we were preparing, and
working with the community groups in and around Denver in the area of employment. So you
had to keep in touch with the community groups pretty much.
So you had a feel for community organizing and working with people?
Well, I had been with the GI Forum for a long time and we always got into a lot of things,
employment, housing, and education issues. A lot of them were police issues, so I had a kind of
a feel for that sort of thing. So what I did in CRS was what I was doing for the GI Forum, only
with CRS, I was getting paid We basically had the same issues coming up in the
What is the GI Forum?
The GI Forum is primarily a veterans service organization, veterans rights and so on. It also
expanded into education, employment, and civil rights. They established SER, the Service
Employment, and Redevelopment program. In some cities SER is still going on through the
department of labor.
Let's focus on a particular case. When you think back on your work with CRS , can you
describe a fairly "typical case"- how you became involved, what did you do then, how, why, and
I think the one case that comes to mind is close to home here,
though we'll talk about many others, is a shooting in 1979, where two young men died at the
hands of the police department. This is the background on it: Two young men gave the finger to
the officers, and they probably made a few comments as well, and the officers didn't take it
lightly ,so they went after them. They stopped them, then a scuffle ensued, and during the
scuffle, one of them died at around where the police cars were, and their car was stopped. The
other one became frightened, obviously, and he took off and he ran across the street and the
officer chose to shoot at him. They weren't under arrest, but the officer shot and killed him.
So naturally the community was really up in arms.
The way we became involved, or the way I became involved, as it
was a team effort ,was another person at CRS, told me about it and we met after we heard about
it. There was going to be a protest, so I met with the chief of police
and the city manager.
We tried to explain to them what CRS was all about, and said that
perhaps we could try to reduce hostility and tension in the city. But by the same token, we could
try to seek a solution to how and why this occurred and develop some alternative ways for the
department to handle such problems in the future. We thought we could reduce the hostile
nature of the community at that time, if they would allow us to do so.
Of course, they were seeking answers; they didn't have answers. So
they were seeking somebody to come in and be of some help. They didn't have enough
communication with the Hispanic community, at that time you called them "Chicanos."
So what I did is I asked the chief to name a few people that had
already approached him, because I didn't know anybody. So he gave me a few names and from
there I contacted those people and I had a meeting with them. We had a round table discussion
like we have right here, maybe fifteen or twenty people. More active individuals, and they
expressed concern about what had occurred.
My job over there was, again, to explain CRS, and to explain that
perhaps by opening the door with the police department and the city manager's office, maybe
they could air some of their concerns in a stronger way. Maybe they could put things on the
table that the chief and the city manager would better understand, rather than having a large
group with everyone talking at once, and nobody really getting a feel for the concerns.
So I suggested to them they at least initially get together as a smaller group, because then they
could have their open community meeting later. I knew that was going to turn pretty hostile.
They agreed, and at that time we identified the leaders of the community group.
Later on there was a requested community meeting and it was,
indeed, pretty hostile. It must have had about a hundred twenty-five people. The chief of
police was there, the city manager was there, some of the consultant people were there, and I was
there. At that time, the chief of police and I handled the meeting.
We identified the people to speak, in an orderly fashion--if we could maintain an orderly
fashion. It went along pretty well. There was a lot of name
calling and so on.
But after the meeting, the chief said that he wanted to talk to the
smaller group, and to proceed accordingly, and to rapidly try to lessen the hostility that was
occurring. So we let the smaller group to begin to talk and the larger community group
accepted the smaller group as their representative they let the small group go ahead and speak
In the meantime the families tried to file a lawsuit and go that route, so they weren't involved in
this dialogue with the police chief, the city manager, and the small group, which called itself "el
Let me back up a little bit. How did you identify who the
who the other participants should be?
Well once the chief of police identified a few people, and we
with those few, they formed a group. Then we knew who was taking a leadership role there.
There were a couple of people who took on a leadership role. There was a mixed group, women
as well as men, and young people as well as older people. So that formed el Comite. It was
about nineteen to twenty people total. They
were the ones that pushed and kept going after the department. At that time they didn't know
exactly what it was that the department ought to do. In other words, they were protesting what
had occurred, but they didn't know how to fix it. Yet they didn't want to leave it up to the
department as to decide what they were going to do either, because they didn't know.
So, based on our experience, we decided that maybe an assessment
ought to be made of the department. We would not conduct the assessment. The assessment
would be done by consultants that we would identify, that was agreeable with the department
and the community group. The community group didn't have any problem with this
approach. Because this was all foreign to them. Therefore they were willing to accept that
process. And the chief accepted it too.
So we identified five people. We had a consultant that we identified
from CRS, two officers out of Denver, and two out of San Jose, California, that had assessed
No. They were consultants to us. Of course we identified them, but there was only one
consultant we had used over and over again. The others were not used before, but we knew of
them, so we felt comfortable that they could come in and do a very good and impartial
assessment. So they came in.
When you talk about coming into the situation and the chief has
given you some names of people and you went out and made contact with them, can you talk a
little bit about how you and your team member assessed what was happening with the
community or maybe this was before, how did you assess what their needs were?
The way we did it, once the chief had identified just the few that had contacted him and met
with him, then we met with the group, and the group then expanded. Now what their needs
were, actually, the one thing they had in mind is that the family had to file a lawsuit. That's all
they had in mind. They didn't have in mind other areas that came up later in the assessment
because that was foreign to them, they didn't know anything about that. Or that hadn't come to
mind. So that's basically where it was. In other words, it was loose, it wasn't firm, they weren't
looking for more, but they weren't aware of what was going on in the department. The chief
certainly wasn't going to tell them. So there was no way for them to be aware of how the
department was structured, if it was weak in one area, who was in charge at the time of the
shooting, was it the right person or not the right person, and that's where the assessment began to
point all that out.
It's interesting that the community member would work with you and it sounded like you're
coming from the police chief's suggestion.
Well, I was coming from the police chief's suggestion only for identification purposes. He
was the one who had identified the people who had approached him.
They didn't identify you then as part of the police?
A. No. Because when we approached them, we mentioned to them
we did conciliation work and mediation work, and our sole purpose was to assist them to reach
whatever goals they desired and that perhaps we could assist them with the resources we had to
reach those goals, not knowing what their goals were. We had no idea.
And it sounds like you're saying they didn't quite know either what their goals would
Not at that time, no.
When you went there, how did you actually make contact with the community people?
Once the chief identified who they
were, I went I called them and made an arrangement to meet them. That's when about
three, or five people met. Then we just talked. They were reluctant at first, of course, because they didn't know us. But being
Hispanic, or Chicano, and them being Chicano made them feel more at ease. They felt that"
maybe this guy can help, and maybe this agency can help." They were totally
unaware of what CRS is and why is it connected with the Department of Justice. But once the
Department of Justice is mentioned, that helps a little bit, because they feel that there's some
validity there. Or there's some strength there. That's how they began to accept us. Then it didn't
happen at one meeting. It didn't happen right away. We had to come back a couple times. In the
meantime they talked among themselves. Then we'd come back. So this whole effort took at
least a year and a half. Things were happening over that year and a half, before I exited.
Did you design a plan for handling
No, really not. Once they began to ask a few more questions though, and the people began
ask questions or say " we don't like this, or that, or the way the department has handled things
before," then the only plan that I had in mind was for me to be able to sell them on the idea that
we need to know more, and the way you're going to know more is through a police assessment. I
told them that we could handle that for them and bring that team together on behalf of the
community and work with the chief to make sure that this is done. And they thought that would
be a very good idea, since they knew very little about the department, they thought this would be
very helpful to them for the long range, for later on.
So we had that done. And the chief agreed on that. He wasn't reluctant at all, and that's one
good thing about it. Had we had a very stubborn chief of police, it would have been more
difficult. There would have had to be greater protest and for a longer period of time. The protest
didn't last that long. Things were beginning to move in the direction that the committee felt
would be helpful. The chief then was looking for something that would help him. So it would
help both parties.
How did you build trust with the police chief and with the
community? Did your race affect your ability to do that? For example, why do you think the
police chief felt comfortable and confident with you?
I think they knew they had made a mistake, number one. They
already knew they had made a mistake, and he felt that if there was somebody like our agency
that could help, that would be good. Because there was some publicity on it, our involvement
would be helpful to the department. I'm sure he already checked with the city manager on it, that
they felt that if they could keep the hostility at bay while all this was being done, that was a plus.
Which did happen, we kept things at bay while things were developing. El Comite was getting
stronger, it was growing, and we had the assessment team being named, all that took a little time.
So I think that's why he went along with it. I think the chief himself
felt that they hadn't had a
self audit among themselves and most departments don't, and here's somebody that can do this
for us that will help us in the long run, we think.
Were you personally involved at all in the assessment process?
No, we weren't. This was all done outside.
How did you determine who would be best to do that?
Through word-of-mouth communications with other departments. We knew that the San
chief of police was an extremely good individual. He brought along another party, and then we
had a CRS consultant we had worked with before that had done some assessments for police
departments, so we brought him in. Then the other two were from Denver, not the Denver police
department, but from the suburbs of Denver.
And were the locals, either el Comite or the local police involved at all in deciding who
people would be?
No. They accepted our decisions, since we were paying for it. I think that's why they
accepted it. And, you know, chiefs of police talk with one another all over the country, so they
know what's going on. So when we named that fellow from San Jose, I'm sure the chief of
police here knew of him, and was more than willing to accept him as one of the team, and
knowing him, even without knowing the others, it closed the deal.
The assessment took how long?
I think it took pretty close to three weeks. The time they came in, the orientation, and then
they began and then they finished it off and then the report came back in.
What kinds of things were they looking at?
I think they were looking at police structure, chain of command,
also the chain of command pointed out who was in charge that evening, and the person in charge
that evening should not have been in charge because he didn't hold rank. Also what type of
training they had received, how long their training has been, what is the relationship between the
department and the city managers? Are they in conflict or not, what's going on? Especially
what type of human relations training the officers were receiving after their police academy
training. Because all the recruits for the department go through the Colorado State Police
Academy. So they wanted to know what has followed up since the academy training. Also the
size of the department, should it be larger or smaller? They also looked at turnover. Were too
many officers leaving, and coming in and so on? If that's the case, why, so they look at all these
little problem areas that the department has, and see if it's happening too often or if it's pretty
stable. That gives them an idea of maybe why these things do occur.
Then they share this information with the community?
With the chief first?
El Comite, the chief and city manager at the same time. And the community.
The community in a public meeting, or was it a meeting of El Comite?
With El Comite. They came into city council chambers, and they went over it. El Comite
accepted it because the report said that they needed more Chicano officers. They were lacking
the Chicano officers. They felt that perhaps more Chicano officers would be helpful. Also
because there are some people that don't speak English, they're trying to find some bilingual
officers. In this area, you won't find bilingual officers. You'll find people almost like myself,
you speak so long you forget your own tongue. You kind of have to search and look for
So that was one of their main concerns, as was human relations training. What are you training
the officers, how do they know how to treat us, and why don't they treat us better? What is
going on? So those are the things they really focused on. As far as command was concerned,
they weren't too much interested in that. But they were interested in the human relations, and
recruitment of officers.
Does El Comite and/ or CRS have a say in what the structure of the assessment was going to
be, what questions were going to be asked, or was that pretty much determined by the people
who were doing the assessment?
The people who were doing the assessment. What probably was helpful though, that person
we had used before, the one person who did police assessments, I'm sure that he knew what to
look for or how to lead the committee into those areas that might be helpful to the community vs.
some other areas that might not be helpful.
Can we explore this trust issue a bit more? How significant
you say that trust was in this case--how did that affect your work?
It must have been good, I'll tell you, since the chief accepted the assessment quickly, and he
did then implement the assessment. I think there was only one item, and I don't remember what
it was, but there was only one item he didn't quite go along with. All the rest he did. The
community then, because of this trust and everything, got beyond it too. Not only did el Comite
go beyond the incident, but they even went into political arena. One of their members ran for
city council and won. So they got a city councilman in there and he was a very astute
individual. Whether they still have a city councilman or more than one, I don't know. Then the
group remained as el Comite and to my knowledge, it may still be in existence, but it remained
for a long time, anyway, and they got into employment issues and education issues and well as
keeping their eye on police issues. I guess I could say the trust must have been there because
they developed into a good committee that was very helpful to the community.
Can you talk some more about what you specifically did in
building trust, particularly among el Comite?
You have to learn how to get along with the people. You can't
sit down with them, and immediately expect them to talk to you like you're one of them.
You're trying to lead them in a direction, but you can only push so
hard. So what you do is just listen mostly. You listen and you converse, and if need be, you go
to the lounge and have a beer afterwards with one of the leaders. And they begin to
build trust. Then you provide information and resource information
that would be helpful to the group. We have a lot of that in CRS. So you provide that
information. Then they feel like you are, to a degree, on our side. They know that we're on their
side only to provide that information. But you don't tell them "you must do this or you must do
that." Or "I'm going to tell the chief that this is
what you're going to do." Because whatever they tell me, they tell me, and that's where it stays.
Whatever the chief tells me, I don't tell them, they can search that out themselves. If
they desire to push, then it's up to them to push, not for me. But anyway, I just established that
rapport over a period of time, over weeks. We got along fine, if they
needed resources for education purposes, I brought that along and we talked about it and they
formed groups on that and they formed groups on employment and then they went on for their
election. Just like any community group that wants to do something, they want us to be
active as they get into various things. This Comite ended up doing that.
Earlier, you mentioned the idea of same ethnicity, how do you
think that factored into the trust level?
I think it does. That isn't always the case, but in this case it did. I guess because you're
familiar with the same thing, what I mean by that, you're not talking about food or those type of
things, but you're familiar with people. Like Corky Gonzales who's a real active person in
Denver. I knew of him and they knew of him. Other leaders in the community, we knew of
them and they knew of them. So because you know them, and you mingle with them ,and now
you're dealing with this group, they feel that the trust begins to build. They don't say "wow,
because Manuel knows Corky we trust him." No, it's because they way you speak and the way
you talk, what you provide and because you're there at all the various meetings that trust begins
to build. Because you're taking an interest in them and you're there.
Now, if I didn't show up at many of the meetings, well I would lose
that trust pretty quickly. I don't care if I am who I am, you just lose it. So you have to make
that extra effort to always continue that relationship, no matter how hard it is on you, or where
you're at, you just have to do it.
Now going back to this case, how did you identify what all the
issues would be?
I didn't really identify the issues, the assessment identified the problem areas within the
department. Now the issue for the community was that they wanted more Chicano officers,
number one. The other issue was the family should file suit. The other issue that surfaced was
also in the report, that evidently the officers don't know how to treat Chicanos, so therefore they
ought to have a better training program or a human relations program, something on that order.
They may not have identified a human relations program exactly, but they said "better
treatment" and "better treatment" means better training and better human relation contact, better
communications with the people. Those were the things that were foremost in their minds.
Especially recruitment. That needed to happen quickly, because new officers take time to train.
They have to go to the academy before they go out on the street. They felt that if they could
begin the process soon, they knew that eventually they'd have somebody there. And then
perhaps that officer would treat them a little bit differently than the other officers that were not
Hispanic. But you and I know that's not always the case. You can have Hispanic officers that
are bad people. But hopefully, these officers will be a little more considerate as he does his job.
You mentioned at the beginning that the community was relatively unsophisticated with how
to proceed how to develop a strategy, were you satisfied with the goals they came up with?
If I recall I was, because what they were looking for were recruitment and human relations
training, and I though that would help resolve some of the problems they faced right along. So I
thought those two things would be very helpful to them. But I also know that police departments
are constantly being trained, and we had conferences on human relations, and these things still
happened. Unless the chief and the sergeants really take hold of it, it may not work. Those are
the ones that are in command and keep working with the officers that are on the street. If they
don't believe it, nothing will ever be done. . To get back to the question, though, I thought they
were going after the right thing. The suit the family brought didn't gain anything. I'm not sure
why, maybe because they didn't get the right attorneys or whatever. It just didn't happen, or to
my knowledge it didn't happen.
You mentioned early on that when the community got together
they really didn't know what their issues were. Did you help them in any way formulate those
issues, or did they just muddle through on their own and come with these?
I think when we started out the word "training" came up during conversation, and I said
many times officers don't have the proper training that is needed. I said "I'm familiar with the
police academy because I was on their board." I told them after they do their training at the
academy they come out to the department and then onto the street, and many times that training
isn't enough. So I think they had an idea that training was one of the areas they wanted
changed. In other words, they were naive about the structure of the department and what they
wanted but some of the people there were very bright, so they figured out what they needed
pretty quickly. Of course we might have touched on them lightly, but I didn't want to direct the
people to anything. I'd rather it come from them. Because if you push too hard, too quickly, then
if it goes wrong, they say," well you told us to do that." So you can't push.
What were the techniques you used to help the community
members look at issues differently, either in a broader perspective or to modify their positions?
I think really the approach I used was primarily talking to el Comite as a group. As we talked
about it we would identify many ideas, we wouldn't stay with just one thing. We would identify
training, I'd ask, "what is it that ought to be talked about within training. Human relations?
Proper handling of firearms? Meeting with the people? What an officer ought to be doing, not to
be too much of a stranger, what are the things we want when we say training?" They would
begin to identify those things.
If they got off track on something, then I would try to bring them back on. I would try to draw
them out, get them to be more specific. It's kind of a touch and go, it's confusing, but eventually
it begins to iron itself out, little by little. And even by then, I'm sure that they didn't touch on
everything they would like to have, but remember that the community was in a turmoil and they
wanted to move quickly on whatever it is.. And of course with the recruitment that came after,
they began to be satisfied that things were happening in the right direction.
So the initial desire was to get a lawsuit happening, but over time the group began to focus
training and other areas of community relations.
And then they went on to political issues, and their own other agendas began to form as well
I know I'm asking picky questions, but I want to make sure I
understand exactly what you're saying. At the beginning, how did you decide when and how you
should meet with?
Well really both of the initial meetings were with the Comite. Then every once in a while we
would touch base with the chief of police. He wanted to know
how things were coming along, and are the people saying anything particular that we ought to
look at a little bit closer. We never gave him the true answers, we wanted to be a little hazy
because I don't think he had to know exactly what they were saying. I figured that the
assessment was going to show him that truth, and I didn't want him to believe that the people
were ready to lower the boom on him just because he's the chief. He doesn't want to be
blind-sided. The people were no way going in that direction at all, but he didn't know that. So
you have to kind of sense, is something going to happen, are the people dissatisfied and
something's going to occur again, not deaths, but mass demonstrations or something? Or are
things moving along well enough to avoid any further hostile demonstrations? There was
always fear that in demonstrations someone would get hurt. You always have that. So we
wanted to avoid those, if we could.
Did the two the chief and el Comite ever meet together?
On occasions they would meet, but I think that only happened three times. The first time
they weren't interested in having a lot of dialogue; they just wanted to find out how the
assessment was coming along. They didn't want to hear it just from us, but from the chief
So when you said there were only three meetings, does that count the ones that you were
talking about earlier?
No, those were at the beginning. I mean after El Comite was formed, because it took time to
form, they had about three meetings after that with the chief. And of course after the assessment
was presented, they met at that time too. It was presented not only with the city council and the
chief and so on, but it was presented like an open forum community meeting. The assessment
was then presented from the team officially and in public, so that helped out a lot.
Did either party ever try to put you in a position that you didn't want to be in?
No, I don't recall that they did.
I'm interested in the part where you said you didn't share all the
information with the police chief. How did you decide which information needed to be shared,
and which information didn't?
Primarily, I was really vague because I wanted to maintain
with the chief, and I didn't want him to think I was taking sides. In meeting with the chief, he
might ask, "well how are things coming along?" I would mention, "they have been meeting, and
they are encouraged that the assessment is going on," or "they're still hostile and still moody, but
they feel that it's moving in the right direction." We generally got off on other things, but that's
all he would really ask, "Are they meeting, how are they coming along, are there any new
developments that I have to know?" If there were any new developments, they were nothing that
would affect the department to any great degree. So there was no need for me to express those
new developments, because there was nothing that was going to be hostile toward the
department. If there was going to be a demonstration, he would know that anyway, because they
would have to get a permit. So he would know that there was going to be a demonstration, if
they want to follow the letter of the law. If they didn't want to follow the letter of the law, they'd
have the demonstration regardless, but that never happened.
Was there ever any concern on the part of the police chief, that
maybe you weren't completely neutral or impartial because you were spending so much time
working with them? Instead of working with the department?
I think he probably felt that, I think he probably did. But he probably felt that the group
needed our assistance more than he needed us. He needed us only for the assessment, and for
that he did need us. But otherwise, they're the law, they don't really need us.
You don't see that feeling interfering with the process at all?
No, I don't think so. But you have to remember that we ran across the chief that was pretty
broad minded and willing to work. Like I mentioned earlier, had he been a different chief, we
would have had a hard time. But luckily, they had a chief at that time, even though the incident
did occur, that was willing to work with the people. And that was a positive. I think that really,
really helped. And he allowed El Comite to meet freely. Because in some cities, when groups
meet and it's a small community, the departments can make it rough on you, just because you're
meeting, for no other reason, they can make it rough on you. They'll stop you, say you ran a
light even though you didn't, they'll find your lights were off, they just harass you.
Were people afraid of that?
No. I don't think so because once they got together as a group, they began to feel pretty
powerful. Strong community Hispanic leaders began to appear and that helped--they were there
all the time, but they weren't part of the group.
How did you help that leadership to emerge?
They came along, they came along on their own, once they heard about the Comite. I don't
know that I really helped it. They ended up at some of the meetings, and they noticed what we
were doing, but I didn't do anything specifically to generate leaders. I
helped the Comite maintain some reasonable structure and to run their meetings in a manner that
they could get something accomplished, that I did. The dialogue we
had helped to-- either before the meeting or after the meting, I didn't run off from the meeting
right away, because that's rude ,number one, but there's things people would tell you informally
as you just talk, now you get a better insight. That's the way I did it.
When there was a conflict emerging between El Comite and the
larger community how might you have resolved that?
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.
Did you have to do that at all?
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.
How about el Comite and the rest of the Chicano community?
Since the Chicano community is not that large in that town, they had no problems. And
that weren't a part of it, I'm sure, were observing, and they just chose not to be a part of it.
One of the things that strikes me as interesting about this story is
that it's similar to ones we've heard a couple times already from other people, but those people
were very quick to move the community group and the police chief into ongoing dialogue,
whereas you did much more work by keeping them apart. Why did you choose to do it that way,
rather than bringing them together?
I didn't feel that getting them together was necessary, given what they were doing, and given
that the assessment was going on. There wasn't a real reason for them to meet with the chief at
all. And the chief was being cooperative with them. I think if anybody from El Comite would
call the chief, he would answer whatever questions they chose. There weren't twenty people
there and the chief and his staff here sitting at the table and arguing back and forth and
discussing things back and forth. We never got to the point. That hostility was lessened to such
a degree that there was no point for me to bring them together at all. There was no hostile
Now had there been something, I probably would have had to think
this through and say we have to get together, because our dialogue or our communication is
falling apart, so we'd better meet, so we can clarify this. There was nothing to clarify, there was
nothing falling apart, they got along fine. If there was a need for them to meet, they
could've done it on their own; they didn't need me. If I recall correctly, the chairman of El
Comite did say he had talked to the chief one time, I think it was about a meeting location. It
wasn't even about the incident, because the incident began to die out, and El Comite took on
other objectives. The incident then became the property of the family to file the suit. But El
Comite was there to provide assistance to the family, if they so desired. I don't think they
requested help, they felt they could proceed on their own.
So you did not personally did not arrange the first public meeting with the police and el
At the first public meeting El Comite had not yet formed. At that time, there was only a
hostile group who said that they wanted a meeting with the chief and he agreed.
And what was your role then?
My role I was working with the chief of police, because we chaired the meeting, but in the
meantime I had already met with the group as well as a small contingent group, but it wasn't El
Comite yet. They already knew me to a degree, and what we could do, but everything was still
hazy in their minds at that point. It was just somebody that came and approached them to see
perhaps if we could help.
You said earlier that the relationship
between El Comite and the chief were so good that you didn't need to bring them together for
communications. Before this incident, how was communication between the Chicano
community and the police?
To my knowledge there was no communication.
So this incident and your involvement really created that communication?
Yes, to my knowledge there was no communication. The reason the chief knew who we
should get a hold of, because we contacted the chief first and met with him, is because a few
people had already contacted him about the incident.
They contacted him as a hostile group?
How do you think that you turned that hostility around? What
the things that you did to turn the hostility into something productive?
I think the beginning to turn that around is when we chaired that
first hostile meeting. They saw us working impartially or working with the chief to try to,
number one, control the meeting. Also, I tried to identify the people I had met by name. I had
met only three or four, but if I knew someone, I'd say "Bill why don't you speak now," or
something like that. That began to build that slight trust. Remember, the people didn't know us
then at all, except for the small group I'd met with. Then, of course, when they set up a meeting
I was present. I was at practically all the meetings that followed thereafter. So I met with them
One of the other issues was that there
were funerals going on in the meantime. The police were saying, "How are we going to handle
situation?" They were afraid that the community might get all upset during or after the funeral
and trouble would start again. So I met with the police chief and assured him that the group was
going to be cooperative, but they needed a permit. And I asked if he'd have police officers
at some distant points, and also asked that a police officer come in in advance to talk to the
group to say "I'm the one you contact in case there's any problems." I wanted them to know
someone in the police department directly. I forget who the chief selected, but he was a
redheaded guy, and really nice individual. Had good character for the funeral purposes. So in
case something happened during the funeral, they would get a hold of him. The chief also
identified the officers that could work with the community to go to the funeral. The
community met with the officer-- it was five people still--so they would know what the officers
were going to do. The church was almost downtown, in fact it was close to the police
department. So that's the kind of thing we did. He helped establish communication, to gradually
build trust. After awhile, I almost felt like I was part of El Comite, a member myself. Which I
was not, but they almost begin to treat you that way.
Did you feel that you might be losing some impartiality or
Probably pretty quickly, because I felt empathy for them and the situation that occurred.
Even though I was losing that, I still felt that I had to maintain contact with the department. And
El Comite asked me to do some things that you can't do. Like they asked, "Is the chief going to
be hard on us in the future if they arrest anybody, what do you think?" I would tell them to my
knowledge, especially now, because of the recent hostility, I think you could almost feel
somewhat comfortable that's not going to happen. Because it'll just create another incident.
Naturally the point about CRS is that you don't have to be totally
neutral to get things accomplished. In other words, you can lean one way and still accomplish a
goal. You don't have to be so strict on neutrality that everybody that's looking at you on both
sides will say you're neutral. You just go down the road and see what happens. A lot of times
when you're working with minority community groups, you have to lean in their direction in
order that they then can gain the strength to deal with the problem or to meet the structure over
here so they can be effective. I find myself leaning to their side all the time, so they can be
stronger when they meet the problem directly. I help them prepare. Otherwise they're back, not
How far did you have to lean?
I really don't know how far I went, but I guess I leaned enough to get them to accept the
assessment process. Because they totally were unaware that we could do that. Some of them
knew about a self audit, so I told them it's almost the same thing as a self audit. But they didn't
know that an assessment could be made of a police department, that would point out those things
that are lacking that might be helpful to the community at large, not only to the police. So I gave
them that idea, and then they adopted it as their own. That's leaning in their direction, that's
telling them what they could do. So then they went to the chief and said "this is what we ought
to do." But in the meantime we had already dropped it on the chief as well. Perhaps he ought to
look at that.
Is that how you presented it to the chief, "Perhaps you ought to..."
Oh yeah. See, I think he was already going in that direction.
So you didn't have to lean on him.
No, I didn't have to lean. He was just a good person.
Do you have to lean toward the
minority group more if you're dealing with somebody in the majority, a police chief or another
authority figure, who isn't as forthcoming, who's more dogmatic and set in his ways? Do you
have to take that stronger advocacy position then?
I don't know whether it's stronger, but I definitely would work
more with that particular department or individuals to show them that in the long run they can
resolve the issue, if they cooperate. I would push them harder. Much harder. But I would also
provide resources that might be helpful to them. I'd try to convince them. You can't push some
of these people too easily, but you just have to be able to provide resources for them, in other
words you push but you provide resources at the same time. I think that they can see the value to
it. If they can see the value in what you're saying, I think that you'll make some headway. If
they can't see value, they just won't assess it, and then you're stuck. You lose.
Let's say in this case ,the police chief hadn't been very responsive, and that as a police
they would have more resources ,more information, than the community. How might you have
looked at the power differences between a strong department and a weaker community?
A greater inequality?
Right, because it sounds like to me as if you worked to make the playing field more level.
You provided some information, some facilitation, support to the community so that they
could deal with the police force, and you also said that the police chief was open and receptive.
Suppose it had been, for lack of a better word, an oppressive police force where that equality
wasn't there. How might you have looked at the power difference?
Like I mentioned, we would've had to try to convince the chief on why it was important for
him to try to resolve that issue. In so doing, we would've had to then meet with the city
manager and try to convince him and the chief why it's important. And also if there was city
council people, they might be receptive. In other words, we might have had to go to the
authority structure and try to be more convincing. We'd say, "look, this is possible, and if you
don't do anything, this is what you face." I would have to go up the ladder a little bit more.
Did you give any technical assistance or training to the committee
beyond what you've been describing already?
No. I never did. Other than trying to
lead them in their discussions to make them a little bit more fruitful, because they would get
off on a tangent sometimes, or somebody would get upset or mad, so we'd have to bring it
back to whatever we were talking about. That I did because when the El Comite first started,
they wanted me to sit almost as chairman. But I told them "I don't want to be the chairman,
you pick the chairman or the president, and that person is the one who should lead it, I will
assist your president, but I won't chair the meeting."
Would you ever choose to do that, or is that outside of CRS' role?
No, I think you could do it, but I've never had an occasion where I would chair it. I always
want to identify a person in the community, even though that person may not take a real active
role initially, because remember it might be hazy for that person. Then I might do more than
what I should early on, but later on the community person selected to chair will do a better job
and will improve. But I'd rather not, because it's too easy to make a mistake. You don't know
the power forces within the group. Even though the group is there, you don't know that X, Y,
and Z do not agree, and so therefore you might play into a situation that you didn't expect. So
I think that would make it more difficult. If there's frictions within the group that you don't
know, they'll show up and you played into that process. It's better to be away from that
How would you analyze the power forces within the group? How did you analyze what was
I think mostly in a group like El Comite, the strong people surfaced. I didn't really try to
analyze what was going on.
Did they ever have any significant internal conflicts that you
needed to deal with?
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.
Did he ever try to do anything independently?
Let me ask you another question about neutrality and
impartiality. When you found yourself in a situation like this case where you had feelings
about what was happening, what techniques did you use to manage your own emotional
Well mostly, I had to control what I said. I thought at times about things I would
want to say, but I wouldn't say them. Because if you said them you'd blow your neutrality. If
you say what you totally want to, you could get into the situation where you could no longer
perform the function you were supposed to perform, at least not very well. You can't get to be
too much a part of the conflict.
I think one of the things was I would have protested a little harder,
not with the chief of police, but with the city manager. I think they could've gotten more out of
him. But I couldn't tell them that. And the other thing that I think they could've done better is
that someone should have worked with the family that filed the law suit they should have been
more aggressive with that family and maybe gotten the ACLU involved, or the Colorado Bar
or some other strong organization. I was disappointed that the family probably got nothing or
pretty much got left out of the process. But it was not my role to push that. Maybe I could
have moved them in that direction a little more, but I didn't. It didn't cross my mind until you
asked the question..
What assurance did you make to the people about confidentiality
on either side?
A.I assured everyone that everything they said was confidential.
You said that verbally?
Yes. That's one of the things that we have to say.
Let's talk now about the media.
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
I brought in a professor from Metro State that was interested in
media, and then we brought in people who knew even more about media in Denver. They had
a round table discussion on it and then the committee spread out to go to the various TV and
radio stations to look at their licenses. At that time the license renewal was every three years.
At that time the community had the right to protest. Now I think it's seven years, or nine years,
or twelve, they've extended it so much. However, it was only three years then, so the
committee members went to the various stations and looked at their licenses and found out
how many Hispanics they had working for them. They found that there were hardly any
Hispanics at all, on or off the camera.
So they came in and they went over the whole thing again and
talked about strategies to approach the problem. There was another group in Washington
D.C. that was even stronger than the group that we had identified initially. It was called
"Citizens Communication" and they had attorneys helping them. Also, the United Church of
Christ was much involved in communications at that time too. So CRS paid for some people
from Citizens Communication to come in to Denver and to explain how they could help the
Denver group, what they could do for them. Then they returned to Washington to begin
preparing some documents -- they already had a boiler plate of something they could do.
In the meantime the group had a conference on mass media in Denver. So they ended up with
two conferences -- one followed the other. At the second one they broadened the constituency
group: the Indian group came into it and the black group came into it. The first conference
was primarily Hispanic. Because they're the ones who were leading it. By the time of the
second conference, the larger group was about ready to file a complaint. By then it was a
mixed group -- even the American Indian movement was there. We had it at one of the colleges
there in Denver. So we had a large group and a lot of publicity on it and the Colorado
Broadcasters Association became concerned. They even had their own meeting, saying who
are these people, and what are we going to do, because they're really beginning to challenge us.
Sure enough, we did file a lawsuit. That happened because one company was going to
purchase five stations and there's something in the law that one company can't dominate the
media. That company had publications and everything else, and now they were trying to
purchase five radio stations too. One was in Denver, and that was the wrong place to choose it,
because we had the media group really going strong then. They were also purchasing one in
San Diego, one in Bakersfield, one in Indianapolis, Indiana and one other place that I don't
recall. But our group, along with Citizens Communications challenged the purchase of these
stations and filed complaints against these stations for their lack of minority participation. And
we also filed a case saying that the company could not purchase five stations, they could
purchase three. We won; the court went along with it.
From that time then, all the stations began to open up and say, "Well what can we do?" What
happened with the company, is they only bought three stations, not five. Also they identified a
person who coordinated their activities with our Colorado committee. That coordinator became
like a spokesman for them, and he provided resources to the Colorado committee. So he
became a little more knowledgeable about what was going on in the stations.
In the meantime the stations formed Hispanic committees, and black Committees, and the TV
stations did too. All those established committees and they would meet with those committee
people and they would foot the bill for everything. Those committees began to explain what
their priorities were what their objectives were for changing the media in Colorado to be
These were made up of citizens?
Citizens of the minority groups. I thought that was great -- and that's why you saw all sorts
of changes all of a sudden. There were programming changes and personnel changes and so
on. I still don't think they did as much as they could've done, but nonetheless they got
something done. And they got results and even though CRS didn't mediate, per se, they
provided enough resources and enough consultants to educate the committee. And the
committee, since they were agency people, understood it quickly and moved quickly on it.
So this is another instance where CRS empowered the local citizens to help themselves.
Now this description makes it sound as if CRS was
playing more of an advocacy role than a neutral role.
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
Was this before or after mediation was introduced?
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.
That came down from Washington?
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.
Let me shift gears and ask how you saw your role with media in
the police shooting case we talked about earlier?
They received publicity on it. I don't know if I wrote the press releases or not, I don't
remember. I could've helped them, or they could've had press conferences right off, I don't
know. You have to be careful with press conferences though, because if you say the wrong
thing or press too hard, the greater community would react. I'm quite sure I didn't encourage a
press release in fact it didn't even cross my mind to encourage that.
Was there any negative coverage in the shooting case? I can see with the story you told us
that the media could have easily inflamed things right after the shooting. Or alternatively
when the committee was meeting and nobody knew quite what it was doing or who they were
working for. I could see where there could be some suspicious cove. Did that caused
I didn't see that. If there was, I don't recall it. According to the case file that I recall I didn't
see any of that. I saw that progress was being made like the funeral was going to occur and the
department was going to release the assessment, the coverage was good.
How did you determine when to end your involvement in the
I think primarily after the assessment was made and it was accepted by the group, and the
chief of police said he would implement the assessment and city council and city manager, and
then right after that I began to withdraw. But only withdraw to the point of that incident.
So then I
became more of a resource person rather than a mediator.
What kinds of things did they call on you for?
Well I helped them on some education issues, because we have a lot of publications on
education issues, or could I identify a person that could come in and help them on education
issues who had done well in another area. I went to San Jose, CA to view a school there. One
man there turned a whole school around, so I went out and visited there, and then made
arrangements for some Denver educators to visit as well. Those are the little things we can do
as far as resources are concerned. There's no major case; it's a case, but it's not a true
mediation case. I was involved with them quite some time after that on that kind of basis.
Were you continuing to go to their meetings?
Yeah, I continued to go to the meetings. I didn't drop it off immediately, whenever I could I
attended, so most of the time I was there. They didn't hold them that often. As they began to
get results, the meetings began to wind down a bit.
So they actually built other structures to address the issues?
Did you put into place any sort of monitoring mechanism or
enforcement mechanism? So that if things didn't go as everybody agreed, once the assessment
was done and the chief agreed to follow it, would there have been any recourse that you or the
committee could've taken?
Within the assessment there was a paragraph in there that CRS would continue to monitor.
We did very little of that, because as I said it was going very smoothly. But within that
assessment that was stated in there. I don't know whether it was the closing paragraph or
something like that. But it was in there so that the city would know that we're still around, we
can still be helpful, and we can still ask questions and see where you're at. That was in there.
But that was to the extent of it. I didn't promise to come back or check back on any particular
How would you measure success in that particular intervention?
I guess primarily the success was that in fact they did recruit more Hispanics, the
community calmed down, El Comite was formed ,and the chief did abide by those items within
the assessment. I think that was all positive that was all good.
How would CRS measure your success?
I'd have to talk to the director at the time. I think he would measure it by the fact that El
Comite was formed and they were aggressive enough to get something done. And I think that
he would look at that and the assessment was complete and to the satisfaction of everybody.
Was there ever a case, a or situation in this case where there was an impasse between what
the committee wanted and what the department was willing to do?
I don't recall it, but remember, I said I thought there was one item? But I don't recall what
that item was. There was one item the chief did not buy. But I don't recall that item to be very
important, and I don't I know that it caused any reaction from the group.
So you didn't do any heavy negotiation over that?
Did you have to do any heavy negotiation on any aspect?
No, not on any of them. The rapport was established so well, that was the thing. We were
Was this typical that things worked out this well, or doesn't that happen really often?
No. I had a case on a school issue in a small Colorado town that
never was really resolved very well. That was a community group's conflict with a school
system and even the superintendent was Hispanic. But the community group over there never
really was happy or satisfied with any of the results, hardly. We tried to mediate it, but there
was never really a point where the people sat down to really talk about it. We could never get
them to the table. They were always separated, taking pot shots at each other in the newspaper
and so on. The school did change a little bit, but it didn't change as much as the
community group felt it should have. So I never did resolve that one.
Why do you think that one didn't work when this one did?
I don't know, I think the Hispanic leadership was a pretty strong individual, and I think he
just did not accept suggestions or recommendations from anybody. He felt that he was going
to make the school back off one way or another, and he was going to do it himself. That's
probably why, and it lasted a while too. Lasted at least two years. But it wasn't too
confrontational. Once in a while, they'd have a confrontation at the school board meeting, but it
wasn't really hostile. There still was the accusation that they weren't doing enough for
Hispanic kids. But luckily, I think the teachers began to do more just on their own. I think
there was some resolution there.
What about principals and the superintendent? Did you work with them at all?
Yes, I worked with the superintendent of schools, but he was a hard nut to crack. He would
say things, but he wouldn't do them. He just wouldn't do it. He would kind of try to placate
you somehow, but I never could move him, and that's the way it stayed.
How did you get involved in that case?
I knew the people that were protesting.
They invited you?
No, I read about it in the paper. I saw that there was a problem, and I went there. Then we
talked, and he knew the fellow, and but he couldn't be moved. He was the one that was going
to do it, no one else. There were some changes made, but he wouldn't accept any of them.
Neither would the superintendent accept any of them. I heard later there were some things that
were done. The principal was moved out of one particular school, and more resources went
into that school. But we didn't do it, it was strictly their confrontation and their mood that
eventually caused it. I could never get in there.
In listening to the tapes yesterday there are a couple of things
that I would like to clarify. Number one, would you tell us the jobs you had at CRS? When
you started, what were you doing, and did you change jobs later within the agency?
About the only thing that actually changed from the time that I
left CRS to where we were at the very beginning were the projects that we would take on. But
prior to that it was approximately the same. I started off as conciliator, and then later on they
changed all conciliators to conciliator-mediators. But we did a lot of conciliation work all the
time. In conciliation you don't actually get into a mediation case where the parties sit across
the table and you're mediating the case. Rather you're doing conciliation, which kind
of revolves the problem before it even goes to mediation. Or it may never get to mediation,
but in the meantime you're finding solutions to the problem and so mediation is not needed.
We did a lot of that. Actually, I continued to do a lot of that thereafter because many situations
do not need it. It often seems that it gets to resolve itself as you deal with the parties.
In your mind, where did conciliation stop and mediation begin?
It would be where you're not resolving the problem and therefore you could better serve the
community if you bring them together face-to-face and try to hammer out the differences.
Mediation occurs because you haven't been able to resolve it through conciliation. The
situation is still there, the problem is still there.
Would you think of the police shooting case as conciliation or mediation?
I think it would be more conciliation than mediation because the group never really sat
down together. It was more of a conciliation and working with the parties to find a solution to
the problem. So that's how it was.
Would you say that more of your work was conciliation or was more mediation?
Actually it was more conciliation. I handled a mediation case at a university in Colorado,
and I think there was another mediation case in Salt Lake City, where we had a riot that with
the police department and the citizens. Those basically are the two.
I was involved in other mediation cases
also, but I myself was not the mediator. That would be Wounded Knee-- that's where Mr.
Cardenas and other people that had more experience in mediation did the mediation. We did a
lot of the legwork to resolve some of the problems that kept coming up while mediation was
going on. For example, if there was an illness in the compound we'd help because, remember,
the compound was surrounded. Wounded Knee was surrounded by marshals and FBI and the
local tribal police. When people needed medical services, I would go in to see what was
needed. We would be checked out before we went in, we had two checkpoints, one with the
U.S. government and the other with the Indian's group, and then they would allow us in. They
would tell us what they needed. We need medical help, aspirins, or whatever they needed --
they would give me a list. Then I would meet someone with a short wave radio, who would
get the word out. Then I'd go back to Pine Ridge, get the medical supplies, and then bring
them back in. Once they told us a cow was going to be shot. They swiped the cow from
somebody and they were going to shoot the cow. So they told me that there's going to be a
firing, expect it at 2:00 that afternoon. So the FBI and the marshals and everybody else
wouldn't be so concerned, that all of a sudden they're firing at us.
Another time was there was a shooting that occurred between the Indians and the marshals
toward the beginning of takeover at Wounded Knee. What happened was a stray bullet killed
an Indian. So then I had to take care of all the funeral arrangements with the family because
they wanted him to be buried at Wounded Knee, because there's a gravesite at Wounded Knee
for what had happened years ago and he wanted to be buried there. They granted it, so all
those arrangements had to be made. We had to arrange for permission for people who were
going to come into Wounded Knee for the funeral. There were going to be so many! I had to
make sure that there were ninety-eight going in and ninety-eight coming back out. Well
ninety-eight didn't come back out and there was no way to control that. You hope that ninety-
eight come out, but I think there were about ten or twelve people who didn't come out. The
government didn't want to increase the population inside; they wanted to decrease the
There were ongoing situations; they didn't ask for something daily, but pretty close to that.
They would have a pow-wow in the evening, and we'd have to be there during the pow-wow
just in case something would come up. Or any of the leadership would say this is what we'd
like or we need gas for the generators or something or other, we had to provide that. So the
government tried to surround Wounded Knee and keep it contained, but did not totally stop
those things that are required so they could continue to at least function as individuals. Food,
gas, medical supplies, on occasion, naturally, food. They killed their own food too like the
What kinds of relationships did you have with the Native
Americans at Wounded Knee?
How did you build those?
By the job we did, by bringing in the things they needed. Such as the medical supplies, gas,
and so on. They weren't talkative. I don't know if it's a Native American trait or something, but
they are not really that talkative. They don't establish a real friendly relationship with you.
They didn't with us, but we got along ok. There was no conflict.
Those are some of the things that you did to help support the climate so that mediation
That's correct. Because mediation was carried on in a teepee in a dead zone between the
government and the Indians. The teepee was here and there was a road that went from here on
in to the compound. Therefore we were allowed to go into the compound and the negotiations
were taking place there, in the teepee.
Later on, of course, to talk about conciliation, they would have
demonstrations say in Sioux Falls and they would call us say, "Hey we're going to have a
demonstration in Sioux Falls, we would like for you to be there so you could help us establish
the relationship between the police department, the sheriff's department and the highway
department because we're going to march from such a place to such a place, and then we're
going to end up at the courthouse, or the prison in Sioux Falls because they're holding one of
our Native Americans there." So we would like you to make those arrangements with law
enforcement so that we have protection.
After Wounded Knee, we were also involved in their pow-wows in other towns.
And this is the Native Americans who asked you to do this?
Yes. They called us and said these are the things that we're going to need because this is
what we're going to have. They were having a pow-wow and there
were a lot of rumors going around. It goes to show you how small communities react. They
were fearful the Indians would get out of hand. I guess they go back to history and they think
of that. That doesn't happen, but that's the way the system thinks. We said "ok, let's set up a
rumor control system at the Catholic Church". Well, being a small community, the Catholic
Church wanted to do that. But the priest was told, "you set up a rumor control center in this
church basement, and we will no longer fund or contribute toward the church." So we had to
set it up at another location.
That was white?
Yeah. All it was was a pow-wow and a conference. It's a conference and they have the
masses there. But there was no drinking allowed. The compound was surrounded by the
American Indian Movement guards and there was no drinking allowed in the compound at all
while the conference was going on. They had a press core there, which I thought was good on
their part, because the press releases wouldn't be going out. They'd get up at noon because
that's the way they handled the conferences. They'd start at noon and go to midnight, or later.
In conferences with us they'd start at nine in the morning, but you can never get everyone there
at nine. They're always straggling in. With them, they're there at twelve and they stay there.
They set up the large tents and everything, but it was very interesting for me to work with them
there. We didn't mingle in their business, we were there if we were needed or to communicate.
If you weren't needed, what were you doing?
Basically we were just in the hotel or just having something to eat.
Is it fair to say that the relationships you built based on the service that you performed at
Wounded Knee then extended to other situations?
I would say so.
You mentioned rumor control. What exactly is involved in
Rumor control, the way we set it up, and we had a gentleman who did that for us in CRS, is
to come up with a telephone number. Then you have people who feed information into a
person or persons at that number, as accurate information as possible. So that if people heard
of something, the community could call that number and say, "Hey we heard that fifty cars are
coming down the highway," and we would verify that and say "yes' or "no". So rumor control
involved getting as accurate information as possible, so that if anybody would call we could
convey the correct information. Because rumors begin when you have something like that and
they are way off the wall, but the person doesn't know that until you try to find out if it's true or
not. The press might call, too. So that's what rumor control was about.
Who was it who called in the accurate information?
CRS people, or the police department, people with authority, not just anybody. Because if
anybody called in, it was difficult for us to justify or check out that information, if any person
just called in. So we would have to depend on ourselves and the police department, the
sheriff's department, things like that. Or city officials, city officials might call in on
Moving to Salt Lake where you were involved in a mediation,
who did you mediate between?
Over there, a theater had a special run on some kind of movie.
And there were a lot of Hispanics at that movie. As they came out, I guess there were some
problems, maybe fighting between one another for some reason, and then the police came in
with dogs. The community felt the police used excessive force. That was their thought, right
off-- excessive force to put down the situation, and they called it a riot. It wasn't really a riot,
because there weren't that many people, but the press picked it up as a riot, so they made it
more than what it was.
So when we went in, we talked to the police chief, and we tried to
find out as much as we could. Then we met with some of the community leaders to find out
how they viewed that situation. We were able to bring in the chief of police, the city manager,
the leadership of the Hispanic community, and we met in the chief of police's office.
They sat across the table, with only a few people, and they began to talk about why this was
excessive force. The police said, "well this is what we did," and he explained why they did it.
Ultimately, they finally agreed that the department needed to better
understand how to handle a riotous conditions. They felt that there was excessive force, and
the police tried to justify why they did it. Those were the problems that were surfacing, and
the friction was going on.
So, ultimately we decided that we did do a partial assessment. We did it, it was just a matter of
talking to the chief, some of the command officers, the community, and within that we made
an assessment of what the problem was, in a little more accurate, rather than emotional way.
The outcome was, finally, that they felt that the university could
carry on a training program for the police department. So the community contacted a Hispanic
professor at the university, and he put a program together on human relations and they then
presented that to the police department. And the police department, after review, accepted
In the meantime we brought in also some consultants to assist in the training. So the
university, and I think there were two people from our department that assisted too. We
provided ongoing training for the police department over a period of six month's time. That's
all we were able to do. The community was happy with that because they were involved in the
development of the training. They thought that was something very worthwhile.
So the piece of that you consider mediation is what?
That we brought them together at the conference table and they agreed upon what to do to
try to resolve it.
Now why did you bring this group together but you didn't bring
the group in the first shooting case you talked about together?
I think over in Salt Lake it was quicker, and there was more
hostility. They were really angry, and they were demonstrating in front of the police
department. Also, I thought that if there was a way to bring them to the table right away, it
would help. When we first brought them to the table, it wasn't mediation, it was just a matter
of bringing them to the table so they could air out their differences. Then an outgrowth of that
is when the actual mediation started. I suggested that we try to work out a solution, perhaps
we can mediate this. But I don't like to use the word "mediation" because sometimes that's
foreign. It's better to say, "Well, let's work out the problem," or, "Maybe there is a way to work
it out". I prefer to use those terms, rather than "mediation."
That's how it happened there. Since the press had played it up quite a bit, I thought it was too
aggravated to use conciliation. It was building up, and if I could bring them to the table
quickly, I could maybe lessen that anger that was there. Remember in Salt Lake City, you
have a whole west side or southwest side that's all Hispanic. They have all kinds of problems,
in fact they still have gang problems in that area. We wanted to lessen that anger quickly.
And it's a bigger population than the other case was. The other case was a little more spread
out. Over there it is a little more contained. I thought the hostility was greater there.
You thought the potential for violence was also greater?
Is there a general rule that you had during your practice, for example, is it true, to say that if
a situation seemed like violence was imminent, or the hostility was greater, that in those
situations you would bring people to the table more quickly?
I don't know whether it's a general rule, it's just how I feel the situation is, how I understand
it at that time.
What factors do you consider to be especially important?
Well, I guess if we break it out point by point, there is the hostility which includes anger,
what are they saying, what are they doing, all of that relates to how angry the community is.
Also, in working with the police, what are they saying, and how are they acting, because they
become fearful themselves, to some degree. They become more on the alert, and then they
might do something that might create another situation. So I guess what comes to mind is how
the community is acting, and how are the police are acting. Also what is being said in the
press, are they picking up something that's adding to it, or trying to bring the focus down on it.
In Salt Lake I thought that more was being said, and there was more activity, and there was a
more hostile atmosphere. The whole east side was really angry.
What did you do to try to diffuse the hostile atmosphere when you got the two groups
together? To keep them from screaming at each other or throwing things at each other or
Initially, of course, when we first brought them together, they were hostile. We took a
break after they aired off. I suggested we take a break, and then we'd come back together that
afternoon. While we took a break, I talked to the group, and I said "in order to find a solution
to some of these problem areas, we're going to have to go back to the table with the department
and have more of a dialogue in specific areas of your concern. I realize that you're angry about
this, but there has to be more specific information, so that the police department can more
accurately respond to some of your concerns."
So they did. They agreed they would come back. In the meantime, what they had done
already, is identified some people at the university who could come in and help. The
university people came in and they had cooler heads and a better understanding of what has to
happen, and I think that helped lead them to sit across the table with the department and try to
work out some kind of solution. And it wasn't that there were a lot of items that they wanted to
discuss. It was just that the police department had to somehow respond to the Hispanic
community, or patrol the Hispanic community in a more fair manner, rather than in a picky
way. The Hispanics felt that the police began to pick at their side of town. For example they
would stop a car because it was suspicious, or stop a car because a light wasn't working, or
stop a car for whatever. That was part of what I felt was picking on that area, which then led to
more hostility. So that's why I thought it was so important.
But anyway, to get back to your question, once they came back, they were more ready to work
with the department and the department was more ready to talk to them. I also met with the
department earlier and said "this is what I'm going to do while we take a break," and they said
"that's fine." The department was really ready. They were ready to say they goofed up, they
wanted to know what can they do to remedy the situation. They wanted us to help them find a
solution to that.
Were they willing to agree that they were unfairly targeting this
neighborhood and they were harassing Hispanics? Did they acknowledge that?
No. They never did. They didn't acknowledge it. They said well, I forgot what the term
the chief used, but he said "it does happen," or something like that. Beyond that, he didn't
Did they make any sort of statement they would try not to do that in the future?
The way I understood it, he asked the command officers to review what they were doing. I
think that's the way he left it. He didn't say "no you can't," but "review what you're doing," if I
Did you follow up with the training?
Utah has a Hispanic representative or Hispanic aide, so we
started working with the police department and the Hispanic aide, and the Hispanic aide then
worked closely with the chief. So he became our contact, he became our source of
information, how things were going. Without our necessarily being there. That office played a
significant role after things quieted down. He was under the governor's office. He or she
works throughout the state. He became our contact thereafter, and we didn't even know that
existed until we went in on that case.
So is it also accurate to say that in this case and the first case you described, that you built
relationships with people that you maintained afterwards as part of your follow up?
Primarily, I kept a strong relationship with that Hispanic aide. He's supposed to know
what's going on in the state, and since Utah has only three or four major cities, large cities,
that's where most of his work was. If you read his job description, he basically was doing what
we would do. We got into some education problems later, and he identified who to work with,
what professor to work with at the school or what teacher to work with at the school.
Other concerns surfaced. For example, there was a city north of Salt Lake, where there was a
housing problem with migrants. There was inadequate heating and the homes were sweating
on the inside during the winter. It was bad construction. The people were complaining, and
there was no resolution. He then began to identify problem areas, and asked us to help them
figure out what was going on.
So you build a mutually supportive network.
In these cases it also sounds like you spent a fair amount of
energy empowering, or identifying resources and doing conciliation work with the people who
might be labeled as "victims," the people without the power. Was there that same amount
effort spent in building the police up, empowering their community?
I don't think that we changed the departments that much, in those two cases that I outlined
to you. I do feel that the chief in the small town did a lot of changing, because he's that type of
individual. Now the Salt Lake City chief, I don't believe really changed that much. We did
not nourish that group to the degree we were nourishing the community group.
I don't know whether it was lack of resources, or that we just didn't do it. Sometimes you
don't feel comfortable, you don't seem to be getting through, regardless of what you do. You
don't seem to be making headway, and if you're not making headway there's other areas that
need to be serviced, and you just don't have the time. You don't have the time to go all the way
to Salt Lake from Denver to find out that you're not making any headway.
But the I thought the training that the university put together with
the human relations office, was well done. What I liked about it was that we were getting a lot
of response from the officers and our recruits. In some human relations training, the officers
don't really take part in it. I don't know whether they feel uncomfortable, or they don't believe
you, or they say "I'm forced to be here," or "I don't pay attention anyway because I know my
job." That's it. They feel that they know their job, and you don't know my job, you're not here
everyday with me, you don't see what I see, I don't believe that you have much to tell me that I
don't know. It is true. We don't see what officers see everyday. But by the same token, they
have to open their eyes a little bit more and be more compassionate and try to understand what
is being presented, so that maybe they become even better officers.
I want to go back again. I'm still intrigued with the notion that we were discussing earlier
that in the Salt Lake City case you moved to mediation more quickly than in the other case.
Other people in CRS we've talked to would say you've got to do more background work and
move to the table slowly. I'm wondering if you did any sort of background work with the
Hispanic group before you brought them together. Did you talk to them at all about what
process you were going to use or what things they could be thinking about or anything?
We had some meetings after I identified who the players were. We did have some meetings
prior to coming to the table. But I don't know that I remember cluing them in to any great
degree on anything in particular.
Who did you talk to first when you first went into that?
There was a gentleman in the community who was something of a leader. He wasn't
involved in the situation, but he was the one who began to speak for the community and he was
the one that I talked to initially, so that I could try to get a little better handle on it.
How did you find him?
The press, he came out of the press, and then I tracked him down. At that time we
didn't know anything about the governor's aide, and then I talked to the police, and the police
knew of him. He had been vocal in some other areas before. So they helped me find him.
A lot of times when I go into a situation, even though it was the
reverse here, I'd rather talk to the system first, the police, the city, the schools, or whatever,
than talk to the community. Because they're they ones that ultimately can make the change.
So if you deal with them first, and they get comfortable with you, or at least they know you're
there, even though they're not comfortable with you, at least then you've opened the door
somewhat, so that the community then can come in. Then you talk with the community, if you
have the community clamor first, the door may not open as easily. So I'd rather go the other
I think the city fathers, police, educators, they want to know you're there. And they want to
know who you are and what you do. So once you open that door, you're better able then to get
to the problem and work with the community. And the community won't condemn you for
meeting with them first. I never had been condemned for it. But in Salt Lake City, I went to
the police, but then I immediately went to the other gentleman, without a lot of dialogue with
the police department. Maybe I should have proceeded as I normally do, but I thought it was
too hostile. I thought I'd better get to that gentleman first.
How much time are we talking about when we say "immediately?"
The same day. The initial day I went in there to talk to him, but
he then wanted to get back to some people. So I think I had to go back again. I had to go back
another time, as he wasn't totally sold. Remember, he was pretty active himself. He wasn't
totally sold as to what we could do. He wanted to meet with some people, and let us know.
That's how we started.
So you went back to Denver for a few days and then came back to Salt Lake?
Yes, but it moved pretty fast after he made the contact. I think within about three months
total we were able to begin to at least come up with something, which is pretty quick,
considering departments don't move that fast and the community takes time. They're all
working and they have their agendas. But we got them to the table within a few months.
How long was it between the day you first got there and when you had the first meeting
with the group where the community was hostile?
I'd say that was about a month.
So what was going on meanwhile? If the situation was hostile, I'd think there'd be a chance
for incidents to occur.
I gather the gentleman was actually getting the group together as
a group. Remember at the theater there was no organized group, just a bunch of hostile people.
So he was trying to develop an organized group and decide who was going to represent the
group, so they could meet with the department as I had suggested.
And there weren't any further incidents during that month?
No, except that possibly some more police problems may have surfaced. To my
knowledge, they said they thought the department was picking on them.
So this incident forced the community to organize in a way that
they haven't been before.
Around that situation, right. Not that they stayed together, but they did for a
I have a more general question. When you come into a
community, how do you assess what's there, what sort of resources are there, what do people
think, what do people feel, who gets along with whom, who's going to be a help, who's a
First of all, I would try to deal with the establishment. I work
with the establishment and identify myself, and say there's a problem area, involving a school
or the police for example. I concentrate on the establishment where the problem area lies, like
if it's the school, then I concentrate with the school. But in the meantime I would talk to the
police department, because they're the one who do all the enforcement. So they're one of my
first contacts, so they know I'm there. Since we carry the Department of Justice label, they
have all kinds of imaginative ideas about who we really are, are we FBI or whatever? And
we're not, we're not that at all. When it's a school issue, we would end up with a
superintendent. From the superintendent, we'd go down to the principal.
Have you ever run into a situation where some key person, the
police chief or the school superintendent, or a really key person doesn't want you involved?
The only one that I felt didn't want us involved was the one in with the small town school
conflict. The superintendent was talkative, because he knew me from before, but he wasn't
willing to yield anything. He wasn't willing to set up meetings of any type. He didn't think it
was necessary. He had teachers that did basically what we do. Therefore he was willing to
meet and willing to talk, but beyond that, that was it.
So he was willing to meet with you, but not do a general
Did you try at all to work around him, or did you just try to work with him?
Well I had identified the individual that was protesting most of the time, and he didn't have
a strong following. He had a following, but not a strong following. He didn't involve the other
organizations that existed in the community; they weren't interested. So it was just him against
the superintendent, and we were never able to get them together. However, things did change
later for a particular school. They changed the school principal, and they brought in more
communication gear like computers.
If you didn't get the cooperation from the key individual, are you
saying that you would back off?
Well, I would have to use judgment on that, as to what the community is saying or what's
happening. If nothing is happening to a great degree, then I'd back off. If there was a lot
happening, and there was a lot of interest and a lot of concern, a lot of hostility, then I would
be forced to move forward on another avenue.
How did you assess the feelings of the community?
Generally when we would go into various cities, we'd meet with the establishment and let
them understand what we were going to try to do, and then I would then identify in community
organizations who should be involved. They'll be agency people, like G.I. Forum and
NAACP would probably be there, perhaps the Urban League, perhaps SER, the church. I
would try to work with the church to identify community leaders. Sometimes there would be a
Latin American club that would be helpful. You talk to them, just like I did with the
establishment. They have to know that I'm there also. So I let them know that "we have a
problem area over here in this school, and perhaps you can be of some help, or you can come
together when we go further down the road." Most of them would generally agree or would
identify other people who are more aware of a situation. Or they might identify good teachers
that could help.
Did you try to do this in person on-site, or do you do this on the
In person, on-site. Sometimes you can make an assessment through the phone, but I always
found it was better to go on-site. Because it's person-to-person. You can imagine calling a
community person that's not too familiar with this and you identify yourself and you say this is
what you do and you try to work it out and so on and so forth. That person may well hang up
and they won't show up. So it's better to do this on-site.
Did you just show up at people's doors or did you call first?
With the agency people, I would call and say ahead of time that I'll be in the city, and I
would like to talk to them. And this is who I am, this is who I work for, and so on. Most
agency people naturally say "sure, come on in." Now the community people will be a little
more reluctant. But you don't talk with community people until you're there. I prefer to talk to
community people in person. Agency people are more astute and more aware, so you can talk
to them via phone. Then, ultimately, you meet with the agency people anyway, to get a better
handle on their views, and you can have more dialogue when they take you out to have a bite
to eat. So you establish a good, strong rapport.
So with the community people, you found out where they were, and just went and knocked
on their door?
With the community people, once I know who they are, and there's always somebody that's
more vocal than the rest, and that's the one you want to go to. That vocal person then leads
you to the rest. Or that vocal person brings the group together.
How often is the vocal person the real leader? How often does it
turn out that there's somebody quiet that's a real leader?
Well it's hard to say. Most of the time the vocal person had been around long enough and in
the community long enough--probably born there--and is respected for that. So I would say
yes, that the vocal person is the person that is best to deal with. Most of the time it's
How do you know when it is not?
If during a meeting, it begins to break down or something, or an agency person may tell
you that he's not the right person, really. "Maybe we ought to talk to someone else," or
something like that. You learn through the grapevine. You can't pass judgment, you're too
You've referred to the grapevine a couple of times. What are examples of what you might
hear through the grapevine? How do people know to include you in a grapevine, and what do
they pull you over and tell you?
For instance, in Salt Lake City after that first meeting, that one fellow talked to me and said
"you know, we ought to include this professor at the university. I think he would be a good
leader and a good person to work with." Those are the things that they try to give. They try to
give you advice about who to talk to and how to find them. I've never had where a community
person might say you shouldn't deal with that person, but I have had agency people say that.
Which advice do you trust?
I think I would trust the agency people, because they're performing a service already in the
community and they have a better understanding of the community. They know who you
could work with and get results.
Did you ever run into a situation where your intervention might
potentially undercut a protest activity that was going on and yield less for the lower power
group than they might get if they continue to protest? Did that ever seem like an issue?
I don't recall that occurring. Now there was a case that Silke worked on in Colorado on
bilingual education. I recall that the community was protesting, but the central protest group
seemed to come away, just because I was there, so the hostile atmosphere dropped down a bit.
Not that they were demonstrating or anything like that, but the protest group stayed and it
lingered a year or so. Then Silke came into the picture and she brought the group together, and
brought in resources. That took a long time and they had meetings, and I was part of that. I
think I might have diffused it a little bit, because it appeared that the school felt comfortable
again, and the group felt that they were expecting more than they got. Just because I went
there, they thought maybe the school will change because the Department of Justice is looking
at it. But it didn't; the problems lingered. Then Silke was called in on it, and I think she did a
lot. We brought in consultants on bilingual education, and there was mediation going on with
the school board, and then some positive things occurred.
How did the changing nature of the civil rights movement and
protest activity affect the nature of your work?
I think there was more awareness, and because of that protests would surface more often.
They were more aware of civil rights activities, and the protests increased, I believe, prior to
You're saying people were more aware early or later?
Later. In other words, after 1964 people became more aware that protest was a method that
could be utilized to try and solve some of those community issues that had not been resolved.
So I think that there was more awareness, and whether it was through the press or the
grapevine, or through better organizational skills like the Forum or whatever, people just
became more aware, and therefore they were able to get things done because they knew better
what to do.
When you started, had Martin Luther King been assassinated?
What year was that now?
68. That's right. For the community groups in this region though, this didn't have an
immediate effect, because the black population was relatively small. This affected more, I
believe, where the black community was the strongest. In this region, protests began to occur,
but it was later, not immediately, as it was in cities with large black populations. As you know
the American Indian Movement's protest wasn't until 1972, Wounded Knee was '72, but since
that time there's been more and more activity as far as the American Indian Movement is
What was the establishment response to this activity? Did you see a change in that over
I think the response was positive. I think the establishment was also concerned about what
was happening. They too were talking about it, and they didn't have to be pushed to talk about
it. I think the universities were talking about it too, so they were aware.
How would you say CRS changed from 68 to 86?
I think we did it more, maybe we could say more systematically. We had a better handle on
things. We weren't as naive perhaps in the later years, because we had people with a lot of
training experience who trained the new people. Early on people coming in had some feel for
mediation but not necessarily the training that would be needed to be able to go out into the
field and feel comfortable. So I believe the training did do a better job.
What kind of training would a new person get?
They had a group out of New York do mediation training for the staff. Primarily what they
did is read situations, and try to find solutions to those situations and then meet head on with a
person in a role play. That person would not be cooperative, and you would see how you
manage to go through the process and find a solution. So that type of role play is what they
presented to us. Also, we talked about who do you deal with, how do you deal with things,
how you go into a community, what you look for, who do you talk with.
Did you have that sort of training when you started?
No. It came about gradually over a period of time. The only one who could give you
direction, naturally, was the regional director. He would sit down with you and say, "Ok,
when you go into this situation, these are the things you ought to consider. Then we would
write reports, so they were aware what we were doing. So they would help you along until the
training came along. They tried to do the training at least once a year.
Did you go out by yourself typically at the beginning, or did you go out with somebody
who was more experienced?
We went out by ourselves. We didn't have the luxury of having too many people because
CRS was pretty small. There were different things happening, so one person would go one
way, another the other, and you had a six state area to handle. So you couldn't have more than
one person on a case.
Did you have somebody to call to say, "what should I do now?"
The regional director for the most part. He would be available. And then as the staff
became more acquainted with each other, we would talk among one another, which would be
Did you ever feel burnt out?
No, I never did tire of it. I think the reason for that is because I enjoyed it, I wanted to do it.
I always looked forward to the day because you'd be surprised how many calls kept coming in
not only for a case, but calls of where to get particular service. People thought because we
were community relations, we knew everything. We don't, but we did receive a lot of calls.
We talked about trust quite a bit yesterday. Can you be effective
if the parties don't trust you? Or even if there's one key party that does not trust you?
Well, remember, you're dealing with two sides, usually. If you have a group that totally
doesn't trust you , then you really have to concentrate on the other side. By concentrating on
the other side, perhaps you could find a solution to the problem, because I doubt that both sides
don't trust you. So if one side trusts you, I think that you can still resolve a problem. But the
other side just has to work harder; they have to overcome that. Not you. Not the third party. I
think that's possible.
Can you think of an example where that occurred?
I don't recall any. It may take some nourishment, maybe start it out that way, but usually
you could build trust with both sides.
How did this work affect your personal relationships? I'm imagining that this could be a
stressful kind of job, or at least you could be all consumed by it.
As far as family's concerned, it didn't really affect me, because there was a stable person at
home. There was no problem there. And the work strengthened our relationship with people,
especially agency people. We depended much on these agencies for information, and they
encourage us to be part of their organizations, so that if they have a problem perhaps we can
help them. So we were constantly at luncheons or conferences because they wanted us to be
there. All that was really positive, I thought, because you got a good feel of the total
community in various areas. Educators, the teacher's association would want us there, just in
case they had a problem, perhaps we could have resources that we could provide to them or
bring in somebody that might be helpful to them. So they used us, but they wanted us there. I
belonged to all of those organizations.
Looking back over that twenty-year span, how would you
measure success in your work?
I think, I hope, anyway, that the community benefited. Not only the protest group, but the
total community benefited. Also, when solutions last, and groups form that continue. Some
organizations formed through mediation that still exist today. So that's a positive. They're still
getting things done for the community, as well as themselves. What better measure, I
Did you ever have a problem maintaining your objectivity or
impartiality in a case, if you've got a situation where you really didn't like one of the sides?
I always lean toward the minority community, actually, because they're the ones that were
out. Anything I could do for them I would do, but not to go to such an extent that I would harm
my relationship with the other side. I really had to be careful there.
Did you ever do things for the minority community that you
didn't tell the other side about?
Yes. Provide information, bring in a consultant, things like that. There was no reason for
the other side to know.
And that didn't cause problems?
No. If it did, I was never aware of it.
What do you think is your greatest strength as a civil rights
I think, perhaps, in moving a group toward some goal. But in so doing, providing as much
information as possible, because I know where to go as that would help the group move
forward. I seem to know the ins and outs of government, I have some strengths there, and I
think that's where my strength lies, because I know where to go.
What do you think would be the
necessary skills, attitudes, qualities, and behaviors for someone wanting to be an effective civil
I think the ability to listen, the ability to extract what are the real points that are being
brought forth, how to lead the group toward their goals or toward a solution.
How does one listen, in order to do what you described?
You try to get people to give specific examples. For example, if they say that the police are
harassing me, then you have to ask them to give you some examples. They might say that the
police stopped John for no reason at all, so they feel that's harassment and someone else will
say, "well this happened to so and so" and they'll add to it. Pretty soon, you have a better
picture of what harassment is. That's what I mean by listening and you keep drawing out what
Do you ever give people ideas of things that maybe they haven't
identified? Do you ask leading questions?
Well, I have on occasion. For example I might ask, "what do you mean by harassment,
what did he do?" Then they'll tell me so that's an example. "Well what is it that they did, was
it within the law or not?" They may be thinking that something is harassment, and it really
isn't. Therefore at the same time you're educating them, that that really isn't harassment. This
is what he had to do. But maybe the other point they brought up, perhaps that is harassment.
You're trying to distinguish what is harassment and what isn't, so they lessen their hostility.
They can be pretty hostile to something the police have no control over. But maybe something
else is harassment.
What about even going further, if they really focused in as harassment being the problem,
and they haven't said anything about the problem of not having Hispanics on the police force
would you say, "Well, how many Hispanics are on the police force?" To start them thinking
about that as another issue?
I think I have expressed that on occasion, in some of the meetings we had. We did that with
the media. The question was brought up, "How many people do you see on the tube?" We'd
tell them how often the license must be renewed, which they had not been aware of, and I was
aware of that, so then I asked the question. I have done that, yes.
So you're saying providing information is part of what you need to do.
The other thing you said that you did consistently was facilitate
Since I was co-chairing the meeting initially, until they appointed a chairman, I tried to get
them to focus their discussion, help them go in the same direction.
Any other things you want to add about what important skills are
necessary for an effective civil rights mediator?
I think the ability to speak with the group that you're working with, not at the group, but
with the group.
How do you do that?
Well, you listen to what they're saying, and you try to speak with the group in terms that
they understand. And you're understanding what they're saying and you speak to them in the
terms that they understand. Try not to use vocabulary that loses a person perhaps, or a term
like "mediation," I didn't like to use "mediation" because well, what is that? Then you have to
stop and explain everything. But then you say "let's try to work it out," everyone understands
that. Basically mediation, you're trying to work it out. Same thing. So that's what I mean.
You speak with the group, along with the group. Not beyond them, you don't have to do that.
Is there anything else that you think would be of interest to people who are thinking about
doing this kind of work that we haven't covered?
I always thought that what would have helped me a lot would have been to study pre-law,
or become a paralegal, because that training, I think, would have helped me better establish
sequence, I thought. Then of course sociology, psychology, anything like that, because you
have to understand where the people are coming from. And I think that would be very helpful.
I always thought paralegal training would help a lot. But I'm not certain, but that's what I
There seems to be a kind of humility if I can say this, that you have as I'm hearing what
you've done. It sounds to me like very important work, and yet I'm not sensing this "I'm so
great, I'm a great guy, I did this powerful stuff."
Well, I guess I'm not that way. I just enjoyed what I was doing, I really did. What I
enjoyed the most was the result, how a community benefited, did the community benefit from
that at all? And if they did, that was great, even a little bit. If they benefited a little bit, I
thought that was great.