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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you try to analyze or address power disparities between the parties? How did power differentials effect the process?
    exert your power and not show any flexibility then this thing is going to continue to get worse and we aren t going to find a solution Sometimes it was a possibility that if we couldn t work something out then there was going to be lawsuit or some sort of boycott or a threat of violence The person that is in the position of power reflects on where that s going to go That s been my general response I talk to the party with the power to point out this will continue to go in the direction they want to go and the downside of that and what are the possibilities of going some other direction Not to say they ought to accept what the other side is saying but at least get them off of just being partners in that situation The other side of the equation is that people have different kinds of power but for the side that has the least power sometimes being in that situation they make demands that are unrealistic The other side has such a firm position that you are so firm on going to say out of doing this one stands about as much chance as an ice cube in hell I ask if we can think of it another way or if we can talk about some of these other issues I think when there is a real power imbalance the mediator needs to bring some reality to the situation for both sides They may not be seeing the best solutions Wallace Warfield Full Interview Topic Top Question So how do you deal with the notion that again this is another thing taken out of the literature that in order to be successful in mediation the parties have to be of relatively equal power So what s commonly done is mediators will work to empower the low power group and I m hearing you say that you do that to a degree but that can then cause problems with the other side Answer Well it happens in the very beginning Typically the way that happens in CRS and most other kinds of mediation where there s this huge dis equilibrium of power and the same thing can happen in organizations for example is that you do your power balancing in the beginning of the process Let s sort of walk through a typical process you come into a community you meet with the leadership in the community then you meet with the so called establishment side the local officials the business people and the first thing they say to you is So who have you met with on the community side and so you say Well I ve met with so and so They say Ah A B and C is fine but D and E those guys or those people known troublemakers can t have them involved in the process So right from the very beginning there s an attempt even before you ve gotten into the formal sessions to discredit people who in fact could be the people who could redress the balance of power in a setting because they know they don t want those people there They don t want the balance of power So I think the job of the conciliator or the intervener just to think of a more neutral term speaking of neutrality is to convince the powers that be that if they really want this to be a successful outcome without defining what success is at this point because you don t want to do that then they need to be here You need to allow us to do our work to make sure that the discussions stay on an even keel We can t promise you that there won t be some explosions from time to time but you know you re going to have to be prepared to deal with some of this if it happens So there was that aspect of it right from the very beginning And then running throughout most interventions you could say that at the beginning but there would be these kinds of recidivist fall backs to the same kind of attempt to slowly disempower people that they didn t want to be at the table Either in this particular forum or others Something that we don t give enough credit to in general is that parties in disputes or conflicts are pretty sophisticated We think they look only at these particular issues but in many cases people in communities are thinking about What are the implications of this as an outcome for future relationships And read into that future power relationships So if they re successful in this issue we know that coming up next year there ll be a bond issue about such and such So they re looking way down the line in some cases much further than the mediator is They re looking at externalities that the mediator is not even seeing So I think that the mediator then has to be able to constantly work to be able to do that There are several techniques that the mediator or the intervener has with which to empower the low power party I think that the idea that CRS came in if not explicitly then certainly implicitly to redress the power was certainly known by everyone But the very fact that parties were being brought to the table metaphorically and literally was in fact a kind of equalizing of the power Jim Laue had an expression as a tap dance around this issue of advocacy by saying that he was an advocate for the process remember that Well if you strip away the veneer you see what he s really saying He s an advocate for social change If the process is going to bring about social change then there s the connection Question How did this play with the white communities Did it generally work Answer It depended It really depended Then again in the social science field there s a tendency to sort of demonize white communities You know They re all one thing or the other Well the truth of the matter is that so called white communities are fairly diverse in and of themselves So the fact that you have a white leadership in a community probably Republican is supposed to mean in the popular conception that these are people who adhere to all the kinds of things that are an anathema to your perspective You know they re right wing people they re conservatives they re against affirmative action so you just name a litany of things and that s where they are Well if you got into these communities what you began to discover was that when people live their lives in these communities they articulate a different kind of perspective It becomes a matter of We have to get through this particular situation So in some instances you find some white leadership adhering to that kind of popular line but on the other hand you also find whites who say You know we know this change is coming It s going to be inevitable we have face up to this We may not like it but our children are going to grow up in this town and we need to find a way of dealing with it It didn t necessarily mean that they were ready to give away the proverbial shop it s just that these realizations and recognitions were there and a good intervener would find a way to capitalize on that Wallace Warfield Full Interview Topic Top Question Interesting So let s go back to the CRS arena now There s plenty of times where the white power structure is middle class and the minority community presumably isn t What do you do then in terms of process Answer Well it isn t clear to me how that necessarily changes the process Question In terms of what model you use you said that class really matters Answer Yeah well I think that class matters from the standpoint of conceptualization of process It may mean that you have to use some kind of a hybrid in a sense or I talked about this a few moments ago but this was a prison mediation I did many years ago in Monroe prison which was and still is a medium security prison right outside of Seattle Conflict over minority inmates feeling that they weren t getting their fair share of resources in comparison to white inmates who had done the same crime and were serving the same kind of sentences There were a couple of riots there So my recognition was that we were dealing with a very sophisticated warden white warden and his staff who had been to the table in various kinds of fora and were used to the patterns of negotiation And an inmate community mainly inmates of color who had not had that experience So what I did was I said to him We can t go into mediation with this kind of imbalance Just my few questions and meeting with the inmates side tells me that they know very little about negotiations and I think if you re really interested in this being successful you ll let me do at least a day of negotiations skills training with them first which is what I did So one way that you can do this is to create a distinction in the process at the beginning by being very transparent on what needs to be done and with the white side say Look if you re concerned that I m going to be involved in some sort of sedition like sort of behavior or that I m going to be instructing them in terms of what to do that ll become clear enough in the actual process and you can always end it if you don t care for it So that s one way of dealing with it to sort of recognize the disparities and address them up front which is what I would prefer to do rather than to simply go into it then figure out once you re into it how you re going to redress the balance Question Okay How much direction do you give to minority communities or how much assistance would you give them in terms of identifying their issues prioritizing their issues for them Answer In caucus the risk is you get into more of an evaluative procedure with the minority side comparatively less so with the white side The risk is that the evaluation will become known in the joint sessions and then there you are blown out of the water Again my experience I don t know what other CRS people have done but my own experience then and still is is to be very transparent about this and say in effect to both sides Now I sense that there s a need Particularly what happens is that there s a frustration on the part of the establishment s side in the process and it allows you to say What I think is happening here is that the minority side doesn t really have a good sense as to how to organize the issues I think I need to spend some time with them to be able to do that Would you let me do that So when you re meeting with the minority side in caucuses it s much more than an evaluative procedure I mean think about this What are the consequences of taking this action now Now eventually that gets evened out my sense is by doing it jointly so as you get closer to the actual agreement Then you re sitting there with both sides and you re doing much more of an evaluative procedure toward the end than you were in the beginning because people trust you I think that I have much more comfort by the way it doesn t matter if it s mediation I could be doing a problem solving workshop as a facilitator starting out in a much more clearly defined position of neutrality neutral in the sense of being neutral and non evaluative and then becoming increasingly so as trust is built up between the parties and as trust is built up with me So by the time we get to the point of people getting ready to sign off on an agreement of some sort you re fully prepared then to say Well first of all let me tell you my own experience and I ll go into some experience and I ll say Let me give you a perspective about this from another point of view you can do this but here s another possibility here are some resources you can look at if you want to go beyond me in a sense Question But you wouldn t do that up front in caucus Answer I wouldn t in the very beginning because I think that the danger is you re taking over the negotiation for one side and then when you come back into the joint session that side is looking at you saying Well your turn Laughter Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you ever tell the administration or the authorities that you re going to be working with the minority group and then they thought that would make the minority group even more powerful so maybe they d better get you working with them too Answer Yeah could be They definitely don t want to be left out of the loop nor do they want to be perceived as not being cooperative And that s a plus Again they say they want to cooperate they say they want things to be better I ll take their word Then the minority groups says They ve been saying that for years but they don t really mean it I know they don t really mean it Well I m going to trust that they mean it Let s see what happens One of the biggest factors is what could it hurt to try It won t cost you anything the government s paying me You ve tried and tried and tried So the cost factor what s it going to cost you if you do this Give me a couple of months you could still do anything you want after that But is it worth one more try Again most people say Yes it s worth one more On the other side Could it be better Not that you re bad not that you re the worst people in the whole world not that you ve done everything wrong but could you at least see that the relationships between these two groups of people could be better Sure they could be better Okay then let s see what we could do So you re taking people at the pragmatic level They have low expectations but let s see if we can make things better Again I m dancing them into a more intricate kind of process that has long term benefit Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question What about power being a factor Do you have to provide some way where they can maintain power We sometimes talk about the difference between power with and power over Is there any way to have power with instead of power over Answer I would interchange that with what I just said about honor and put power in there Before the power the only way they perceive themselves as having any influence is by power over You ve got to create a new picture for them that they can buy into and that s power with that still has honor and influence If you try to diminish them and their influence it won t work So if you can reorient their paradigm to see that they have more influence inside the group and they can make a difference here You ve had an incredible influence on this community What you ve done has made an incredible difference for these people for the change in working relationships Let s look at it a different way You can still have influence You re very important to this process Many of them will see that and come along if you ll help them create that new picture That s one of the gifts of the third party You don t have anything to win or lose so they re not looking at you as a vested interest Nobody else can play that role because everybody else is suspect But yes I think everybody has to have a position of honor and have some sense of personal empowerment Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Let me move to another question Some people say that many social protests are a reflection of the inequitable allocation of resources in society They suggest that when you intervene and try to move the protest activity towards settlement you are addressing these underlying issues by throwing a bone to ease the pain a bit while the basic societal problems continue Are you in effect undercutting the purpose of the protests when you bring parties to the table Answer I think there is a need for protests It is important to get the attention and support of the public I think protests serve that particular agenda If you can get the attention and the sympathy of the general public then it forces the institutions or whomever you are protesting against to recognize that it is not in their interest to withhold resources or whatever the protest is about Once that is leveraged and there is a willingness of the parties to sit down and discuss those particular issues then I think there is a time to go to the table Now there is a risk there and I understand it If the protest doesn t communicate and gain enough support then you don t have the leverage to demand and maybe get all of the resources you think you need Sometimes you can cut a protest too short In the same token sometimes you can belabor an issue by protesting and lose the support of the public I think there is a fine line there that the organizers of a protest have to calculate What is our objective If we are only trying to get the support and leverage for the parties to meet then let s get to that point and figure out what they want to accomplish Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you do anything else to deal with power disparities between groups Answer This was something that I used to talk about with all the parties The CRS mediator became the fulcrum on this power beam and I may need to move toward one group or another to keep the balance We used pre mediation for coaching and guiding so as to make it productive when we did get together This way we had some substance there and not just emotions I don t ever want people to think I m diminishing their emotions Those are a significant part of it and they need to be shared But if you re going to create systemic change you have to go beyond that You need to determine where those emotions are coming from and what systems can be managed or changed in order to create positive emotions I may need to move closer to one group or the other but that s why I m doing it The only danger is if you don t let everybody know that you re doing it then one group hears about it and thinks that you re advocating or becoming aligned with that group You have to be real careful that the group doesn t perceive you as an advocate but that they know you re coaching and helping for the purpose of everybody You re offering that same level of service wherever it s needed In the mediation it s the matter of using titles agreeing that we won t use titles or if we do then everyone is addressed with a Mr or Ms We re not using Dr and Chief We don t say Chief Williams and then Joe We re going to use Mr Williams and Mr Smith That nuance says to Joe that the mediator is honoring him and around this table we re all Mr or Ms Either that or we all use first names which is the preference There s some dance with that If there s somebody that s a revered community person we just couldn t call them anything but reverend or brother so then you honor that and you don t violate the honor of the group But at least there s some acknowledgment that we re on the same playing field In the context of the discussions we need to keep people safe If one or the other starts taking somebody on then you stop that You say remember we re talking about how you feel If you let one of them diminish or take the other one on then the environment is not safe anymore Once the group realizes that you are going to manage that then they feel safe and they respond to it That s power If you let one party overpower the others you can t have mediation That technique was part of it It was again a delicate balance because you as the mediator can t put anybody down either And that s where the ground rules come in I establish ground rules like we diminish no one everyone s opinion is respected no name calling no use of profanity Then whatever those ground rules are when someone violates that and starts cussing at Joe I can say Susie remember you agreed that you wouldn t use profanity you agreed that you wouldn t call names and I m going to have to ask you to honor that I m not the bad person or the parent I m the one that reminds them of what they ve agreed to and it feels a whole lot different then if I m going around and pointing fingers If that doesn t work then I caucus with them If a caucus doesn t work I ask the other party if they want to continue but I won t allow it to get out of hand I think I ve violated the confidence that people had that I was going to keep it safe Police chiefs seem to be especially concerned about it They don t want to come to some meeting and let people chew them up and my assurance to them is I m not going to let that happen People may vent their feelings or their frustrations and they need to do that but it won t be personal But if I violated that then I violated my trust Those were the kinds of steps that I used to honor that The most important thing is that they buy into some behavioral ground rules that I can call them back to Question Do you suggest these ground rules before you start or do you develop them with the parties Answer I develop them with the parties Diminish no one was always one that I used for myself and for them Generally they would come up with something similar but if they didn t I would add that I let them develop the ground rules I would ask What s it going to take to make this successful Then I list what they have come up with Every meeting I bring them back and put them up in some fashion Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top Did you perceive all the parties to be on the same level playing field or did you find that there s one party that had significantly more power Answer There were different kinds of power white public opinion would have been a factor in the background of the landowners and I m sure that the Native Americans the tribal leaders were very much aware of that One of the things they were concerned about was what Congress would ultimately do Question The tribal leaders Answer Yes Not in this particular case but I think in Indian country in general Treaties can be changed by Congressional action The courts can give definition to treaties and that sort of thing I think the thing in the background that s rarely articulated is this fear of what Congress will do about in this case these kinds of treaty rights and private property rights Therefore white public opinion once this is all out in the open arena could generate a lot of feelings Question So does that threat influence the Native Americans to not push as hard Answer It would probably have some influence along those lines It wouldn t be specific but it s a restraining influence I ve never heard it put just this way but that s my interpretation Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top We talked yesterday a little bit about power disparity and I think you said that you wouldn t mediate unless there was some close equality of power I was thinking at the time in the criminal justice cases where you have the police and a minority community it seems to me that would be an instance where you have a very vast power difference yet you still I gather mediated How did you deal with that kind of power difference Answer Well you ve got several elements here Publicity and public opinion are factors Say the police did not deal fairly there is always the possibility of publicity around their decisions that would make them look bad if they did this That s outside the room of course There are always potential pressure points that the minority community can use if they so chose that would make for potential build up of their negotiating position such as in the Portland case I mentioned They were up against a very strong rigid position yet they were able to change that position That kind of potential is always out there if it s resorted to and usually does not reflect well on say the institution that is involved Question Do you ever encourage the minority party to do that kind of power building or do you kind of leave it up to them to decide when they need to do it Answer I would generally leave it up to them In between disputes I may have comments to people as I might be discussing or critiquing a case I might tell one community what happened in another one These all convey suggestions I would guess I may not do it purposefully but I think that general kind of information of how the dynamics of one community are being followed are pertinent to all the communities They should be aware of these kind of changes I think I would tend to share it Efrain Martinez Full Interview Topic Top Groups up to then were not part of the decision making process They were not included I remember once I was responding to a beating of a Mexican guy in Texas back in the early 80 s We set up meetings with the mayor and the police chief before there was going to be a big march through downtown to the cemetery The mayor asked one of the local leaders Why do you have to have this rally You re going to give the city a bad name with all the media out here The guy answered We didn t give the city a bad name It s your police officers who gave the city a bad name The mayor asked Why don t you work through the system The guy said Well let us in If he wanted them to work through the system then he had to let them into the system That s where I guess a lot of minorities see themselves as not being part of the system For whatever reason But they need to be in where decisions are being made In essence a lot of our work is pretty much like that leveling the playing field Bringing them to the table where they can discuss matters on a level plain Through us they can get to do that Once they re there they take up matters themselves Efrain Martinez Full Interview Topic Top Were power disparities ever an issue Answer I think they re present a lot of the time If it s a minority group that feels disempowered a lot of times they themselves will say We have no power here except the power of numbers and we re putting ourselves out there If nothing else they ll put their bodies out Others in society may call a person with influence they can call somebody to help them work things through they can call a congress person they can call a city official they can call a city council member and they speak on their behalf and the problem gets resolved But sometimes minorities feel that they don t have those resources or those avenues so they just put themselves out there We give them access to those environments where decisions are being made or can be made Access that they didn t have before If that s empowerment I don t know but we re giving them access they themselves can then negotiate to resolve the problem For some reason they may have not been able to do this before Ozell Sutton Full Interview Topic Top For example after Martin was killed Baird Rustin do you know who I m talking about Baird Rustin came down to organize that peaceful march that Martin had come back to Memphis to do but was killed before he could Baird was a great master of demonstrations He s the person who organized the march on Washington He was a great tactician so Baird Rustin came down and took charge of organizing the next march When Baird walked the route of the march he said Oh no we can t march that way Number one They had a court order to deal with because the city went into court and tried to get an injunction against him in another march They didn t get the injunction but they got a bunch of restrictions on the march One is they could only use one half of the street another one was that the march had to take place between ten and two another one was the route of the march When Baird had walked the route he was that much of a tactician Most folk would mark from here to here he would walk it and see what the hindrances and encumbering things would be and he said Going that way we have to pass two buildings in demolition and one building in construction We don t want young people to be tempted to pick up rocks and bricks to throw We don t even want to go that way we want to go another way But the court order was to go that way And then the other was a problem too Do you know how long it would take to process ten thousand people marching four or five abreast We couldn t even go downtown and get back within the four hour span of the court order So the court order needed to be changed So then they turned to me as the mediator and Baird said Mr Sutton somebody s got to go before the judge and tell him what the encumbering things are as they relate to a peaceful march Under usual circumstances an attorney would go down and make that appeal but that takes too long The attorney would have to make a brief and the judge would have to study the brief and then come up with an answer He said That would take three or four days and we don t have that Would you go down and just talk to the judge man to man about this situation I agreed to do it so the next morning when the Justice Department agencies got together as we did everyday CRS CRD Civil Rights Division U S Attorney and F B I all got together the next morning I reported this to them So the guy from the Civil Rights Division jumped up and said You can t do that I said What do you mean I can t do that He said The Justice Department can t be in the position of asking a judge to change his order I said With the exception of the F B I the rest of you are attorneys and I can understand your great fear of the judge But a mediator does not have that kind of fear at least this one does not and I shall go He said I m the highest ranking member of the Department of Justice here and I direct you not to go I said You re getting things mixed up He said What s that You are the highest ranking person from the Civil Rights Division I m the highest ranking person from the Community Relations Service and I promise you that the Community Relations Service would not tell the Civil Rights Division what to do and the Civil Rights Division will not tell the Community Relations Service what to do There are only two people telling me what to do and that s Roger Wilkins Director of the agency and the Attorney General himself He said I shall call the attorney general I said Call whoever you want to call I left the meeting to go to meet with the judge but on the way to meet with the judge I called Roger I said Roger and he said Hey Ozell how s it going I said I say to you and I m always doing this you remember the scripture about how the lady said I will go and see the king and if I perish I perish I told Roger what I was about to do I told him I was greatly upset at the Civil Rights Division that he would probably hear about that but that the only thing I need to know is whether that disturbs you or not Roger Roger said Ozell if you think that s what ought to be done then you do that That s the way Roger was You are a seasoned mediator one of the best we have so you go ahead and see the judge I went to see the judge and the judge received me very politely and I explained to him I said Judge marching four or five abreast it would take more than five hours to process ten thousand people Had you considered that He said The city does not want them to take the whole street I said Judge you know what that is When the American Legion comes here it takes the whole street When the Shriners come here they take the whole street And they don t even get a permit They just go out there and start marching I used to be a commander of a protest group and when we came into town we just went out there and start marching We took the whole street and nobody said a word to us This is selective law enforcement which we cannot do

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  • Mediator Interview Topic - When you perceived a significant power imbalance did you try to level the playing field? How did you do this?
    so you just name a litany of things and that s where they are Well if you got into these communities what you began to discover was that when people live their lives in these communities they articulate a different kind of perspective It becomes a matter of We have to get through this particular situation So in some instances you find some white leadership adhering to that kind of popular line but on the other hand you also find whites who say You know we know this change is coming It s going to be inevitable we have face up to this We may not like it but our children are going to grow up in this town and we need to find a way of dealing with it It didn t necessarily mean that they were ready to give away the proverbial shop it s just that these realizations and recognitions were there and a good intervener would find a way to capitalize on that Dick Salem Full Interview Topic Top Some of the 32 would participate as observers behind the table but if they wanted to speak they could move up to the table That gave us workable numbers at the table We then conducted the elections which were absolutely wonderful The greatest leadership qualities came out in some of these cellblocks Young men encouraging their fellow inmates to participate This is your chance to have a word a say on how this place in run they implored We found that the prison residents wanted more then anything else to get out of the box and this election would give them the chance to get out of their cells Also they want to confront the man They were going to sit across the table They were going to elect their representatives they were going to caucus set up agendas They all finally came together when we had everything set They had the elections paper ballots the whole bit It worked The place was just running like a top at this point There was a high level of anticipation and then the group started working on their agendas Nancy Ferrell Full Interview Topic Top Question What about in the context of the case Do you do any training especially with a minority group in order to somewhat level the playing field Answer I would talk to the establishment and the minority group about learning how to clarify issues and begin to strategize I ll coach and train them I ll sit in private with them in kind of a teaching mode and explain to them how to respond to a system and get what you need in a productive way If you re going to do some destructive things you can do that on your own If you want to be productive then I want to help you with that A lot of the coaching teaching and technical assistance was not behind the scenes because I made sure everyone knew I was doing that It wasn t undercover I wasn t sneaking around and helping Some of the establishment people weren t any more sophisticated about the issue than the community groups were so I d do the same thing for them Generally the issues were being generated out of the community because the establishment says they don t have any problems The teaching and the coaching on the establishment side was to help them understand the dynamic of perception I didn t feel like I had to make them fess up and say Yeah we violated this rule or We ve not done all we can do If you have to get them to confess you re not going to get them to the table If I could get them to say Sure we could do better then that s what I was after My next goal is to help them emphasize and say We re not doing that But if they believe we re doing it I understand why they re so frustrated That was my next indication that we were moving in the right direction Question Can you verbalize how you moved in that way Answer It took time establishing that trust relationship The community would be saying the same thing They re not going to be fair or honest They re not going to deal with us with integrity they never have To be able to come to some point and say to the community They have assured me that they re coming to the table in good faith Now I m going to take them at their word Are you going to at least give it a shot The same thing with the establishment It was a matter of being able to verbalize for the community at first this is how they feel If that happened to you how would you feel Well I d feel awful But we didn t do that Well I m not saying you did But if they believe you did they feel that That worked Question You re doing this before the group meeting Answer Yes Right One of my decisions about whether they were ready to meet at the table was whether or not I could get any glimmer of empathy from all sides however many sides there were If I couldn t get some awareness or sensitivity to other party s position I was reluctant to go to the table I might continue shuttling back and forth and come up with some kind of an agreement but if you can t create empathy you can t have a relationship Without that mediation is not going to work If there s no reason for us to relate there s no reason for me to empathize with you Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top Was this a power issue Did the different perceptions occur because of differing power levels and if so what did you do to try to level the playing field Answer I think power and balance is more than just numbers And certainly to some extent just having that translator there was a way to level the playing field And again it wasn t just to make sure that everybody understood but it was also a visible part of putting everybody on an equal level So it had symbolic value as well as helping with communication So the symbolism and I m just saying it was just a gesture but the gesture itself aside from the value in communicating and so on of making sure that nobody has the advantage because of language Question Was that your recommendation Answer Oh yes I wouldn t have done that without a translator There were perhaps some in the group who could have negotiated even if it had been all English but the majority of that group would have been at a distinct disadvantage and they would have felt disempowered So there s no way that you could have done that particular mediation without the translator there Actually we didn t use caucuses that much and in some ways I m surprised because usually this is the kind of setting where I would have expected to use a lot of caucusing But I prepared everyone ahead of time so they knew what to expect and weren t just shooting from the hip That doesn t mean that other issues didn t come up but at least there was some sense of preparation So I think that serves to help empower And I tried very early on in the mediation process to make it clear that I am in fact controlling the process If there s a specific question I make sure that that s addressed and that s responded to I make sure that if there is a point that s made that everybody understands it If I think that somebody might have missed it make sure that it s either repeated or that the party itself repeats it Sometimes I will ask questions not so much because I don t know but because I think it s important for everyone to hear what the answer is So I ll do ask I m very good at saying Call me stupid but Sometimes you can see that one side or the other is puzzled but you can also see that they don t want to ask So I ll play dumb at that point and ask the questions that I think they want to ask but won t I have no problem being the person who needs the information because I just don t understand So I think all of those help in that particular setting Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top Question Let s talk a little bit more about the issue of power disparity between the parties and CRS s role as a neutral Even though you say you are a neutral you also in a sense try to empower the low power group do you not How do you balance that Answer If you mean how do I justify that let s start with that piece first Very easily because I don t think I can do an effective job of mediating between two parties if there isn t some balance there So unless I help bring about that balance mediation won t work Of course you can t necessarily assume that because one side is a minority community that it s the powerless community That s another issue But let s assume that in fact there is a power imbalance Unless I can help balance that and empower each party to effectively participate at the mediation table we re not going to have an effective successful mediation So I explain that to the institution and I offer pre mediation training to both sides I also use that as a way to help each of the parties identify what their interests and concerns are and what they hope to get out of this process Sometimes that s particularly important for the institution because they often start out from the perspective of Okay how much do they want and how much of that are we going to give them They rarely think in terms of What do we want and how much of that are we going to get The reality is that they usually do want something from the community so this helps them become aware of that This is another trust building mechanism as well because I m acknowledging that You need things too What is it that you want What is it that you re looking for I want to make sure that both sides are heard and that we can talk about how each side s needs can be met I also let the institution know that it s in their best interests to have a well trained capable party on the other side because it will be easier to deal with and negotiate with them if they are capable Part of what the institution is afraid of is that they will have a group of ranting raving maniacs on the other side that they can t communicate with So part of what I m providing is some security some format which is reasonable from their perspective I may say to the institution Now you understand that party A is angry and they re going to need to express that But trust me we re going to get beyond that and get to problem solving So I lay the groundwork for there being some anger I hate to call it venting because to me venting sounds too patronizing I don t want to be allowed an opportunity to vent I want to be allowed an opportunity to be heard So even though the term venting might apply I avoid that word because it does sound patronizing to me It has undercurrents of They re just spouting off and they really have nothing to say In most cases they have a lot to say but they ve never been allowed to say it and be heard before Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Did I ever finish that question about compromise and demonstrations That was the thing that stands out to me when I think about the Riverside situation How long did they need to protest to leverage the system to respond versus would the system respond differently if they didn t do a year of demonstrations Question How do you determine when working with a group how to influence leadership and the appropriateness of it as well Answer Yes I m a true believer that eventually we are going to have to get to the table if we are really going to make a change I think as soon as we move from anger and blame we re ready As long as we aren t so emotionally driven we can t do something constructive then we are ready to move progressively to some kind of dialogue on these issues Question How do you move the parties then toward the table when they are apparently more inclined to stay in protest mode Answer In many of my police excessive use of force cases I use the diagrams on where the parties are on the continuum of a traumatic incident and what the expected behaviors are that demonstrate shock denial anger and blame When you are emotionally driven and are venting you are in demonstrations and marches and so forth When you have accepted it you are ready to say what can I do to make a difference in the long run Particularly in excessive use of force cases I usually go Look I understand that we wish that our loved one Taisha Miller wasn t killed that she could still be with us But unfortunately we need to accept that she won t and that we can t bring her back But what do you really want to accomplish Inevitably communities will say We don t want it to happen again If you don t want it to happen again what do we need to do to make a real difference Do we need to put a system in place to make sure the police are trained right Do we need to look at these police officers and see that they are reprimanded properly All the possible issues that remedy that point When they are ready to discuss those the issues is after they come to that acceptance then they are willing to look at the possibilities of constructive prevention on these shootings Question So you use your chart to drive that point and it works for you Answer Yes Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top I don t have any problems trying to help somebody get through the process by equalizing the playing field and maintain Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top Yet in the end they d have to accept that the administration was in charge And they knew that It s just like when they talk about this bull that the inmates run the prisons That s not true and I don t know who spreads that stuff around Even the inmates know that s not true and they tell you What do you mean we run the prison Look at all the guns these guys have And if those aren t enough they ll call the National Guard the Highway Patrol the resources go on and on Yet in the end they d have to accept that the administration was in charge So you go in and tell them Hey if they don t want to do certain things they ll tell you I saw that as getting them up another notch as compared to the level we felt that maybe the administration was at Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top Answer If I observe that one group is not able to negotiate with another group on a particular level then we try to bring them up to that level It ll never occur that they ll be on a really level field but at least they should understand some of the things that might happen and some of the processes that might take place Also you talk to them in terms of the potential for the city or official group to try to buy them and not really do anything to fix the problem For the most part whenever I got involved with officialdom I usually felt that s what they were trying to do They weren t trying to be of any help Leo Cardenas Full Interview Topic Top Question You just said something very interesting You had to work the ethnicity out of it How do you do that Answer Very carefully First of all by trying to bring equity to the table in terms of numbers numbers of the organizations And one of the things that happened here and it happened in other cities is bringing back to the table individuals who did not currently have a title with the organization but had held a title before and were highly respected We asked them to come to the table and be sort of senior elder spokespeople and bring unity and that worked very well Question Did you try to get equal numbers of each race or did you try to do something proportionately Answer I think proportionate to the organizations who actually signed to be members of the coalition Question And this was open to anybody who wanted to be included Answer Correct Bob Ensley Full Interview Topic Top you referred to tremendous power inequity What did you do and what sort of techniques do you use to make it easier Answer One of the most powerful white families in Eastern Carolina was the Wilkins family He also acted as a friend of the

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1710.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you ever provide assistance to one party without the knowledge of the other?
    and they need to be shared But if you re going to create systemic change you have to go beyond that You need to determine where those emotions are coming from and what systems can be managed or changed in order to create positive emotions I may need to move closer to one group or the other but that s why I m doing it The only danger is if you don t let everybody know that you re doing it then one group hears about it and thinks that you re advocating or becoming aligned with that group You have to be real careful that the group doesn t perceive you as an advocate but that they know you re coaching and helping for the purpose of everybody You re offering that same level of service wherever it s needed Efrain Martinez Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you ever caucus or provide assistance to only one group and not the other Answer No I don t think so Manuel Salinas Full Interview Topic Top Question Did you ever do things for the minority community that you didn t tell the other side about Answer Yes Provide information bring in a consultant things like that There was no reason for the other side to know Question And that didn t cause problems Answer No If it did I was never aware of it Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top Question Keeping in mind the power difference that you just talked about was there ever a time that you worked with one party without letting the other party know about it Where you re strictly working with one party and keeping that away from another party involved Answer To what end Question To the extent of maybe you re providing

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1720.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did anyone ever ask you to become an advocate or to tilt the table in their favor? How did you respond?
    difficult parts for us is simply maintaining that impartially while you are also trying to level the playing field but maintaining that impartially It is very easy to be perceived as being part of one side or the other Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top When you respond to volatile situations are you ever asked to do things that you can t do Answer Yeah They want me to go get the mayor They expect us to and in most mediations they want to get their point of view across and they want us to be an advocate for them We have to explain to them why that s inappropriate for us to do and what our role is Our role is to try and bring both of you together and to work with you to see how you can come up to some kind of agreement to resolve your issue We re not going to take your issue and fight it for you that s not our role What information you share with me sometimes I share with the other side and if there s something you don t want me to you need to tell me because that

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1730.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you ever try to use the power of the Justice Department to influence the situation or level the playing field?
    have no choice We don t need anybody s permission to intervene An untoward police act people protesting major protests in the city the police chief doesn t have it under full control the police commissioner or mayor had to do something Again he may not want us but he knows something has to happen and maybe we can help So he works with us We worked in Cairo Illinois which is closer to Birmingham Alabama than Chicago Nobody in the establishment wanted us as there was blatant discrimination going on The city lost every case in the courts over the years but they dragged it out The political establishment did everything it could to resist change It was a black white issue straight up At times there was violence at times it was more subtle The public officials often refused to talk to us I remember the Chicago office of the U S Civil Rights Commission wanted to hold a meeting down there so we worked with them It was a request they made in conjunction with local black leaders and I couldn t say no So we scheduled a meeting and the governor s office sent some people in City officials the county officials the sheriff s office all refused to show up They knew we were sitting around a table And there I am and there s the Civil Rights Commission which also has no enforcement power The governor s people flew in on a private plane But the other chairs were empty because they just wouldn t come So no they didn t want us Martin Walsh Full Interview Topic Top Now because of being with Justice I think we can get to first base Very few if any people I can t recall anyone outright say No I am not going to meet with you Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top So we go in and intervene and say Wait a minute Stop What are you doing We could tell by his behavior that he was a non compromising skill kind of guy who was going to get his way or else I said I want to see your supervisor So we had to flash our DOJ identification tell him who we are tell them what we re about and say We need to see your supervisor You don t need to talk to these people Bob Ensley Full Interview Topic Top But you ve got to realize that this is their problem and the only lasting resolution will be one that the people who live in the community agree to We can say this is what the Department of Justice has decided to do but it s only going to hold for so long as we re there But if they come to an agreement on their own and begin to realize this is their problem then you can feel a little more comfortable with leaving and saying I ll be back Efrain Martinez

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1740.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - How did you identify differing levels of power at the table?
    something out then there was going to be lawsuit or some sort of boycott or a threat of violence The person that is in the position of power reflects on where that s going to go That s been my general response I talk to the party with the power to point out this will continue to go in the direction they want to go and the downside of that and what are the possibilities of going some other direction Not to say they ought to accept what the other side is saying but at least get them off of just being partners in that situation The other side of the equation is that people have different kinds of power but for the side that has the least power sometimes being in that situation they make demands that are unrealistic The other side has such a firm position that you are so firm on going to say out of doing this one stands about as much chance as an ice cube in hell I ask if we can think of it another way or if we can talk about some of these other issues I think when there is a real power imbalance the mediator needs to bring some reality to the situation for both sides They may not be seeing the best solutions Will Reed Full Interview Topic Top One of the biggest things doing table strategies and negotiations is you may never know who the power broker may be at the table See sophisticated groups groups that are used to coming to the table who know a little bit about negotiation are people who never reveal their true power and their true strength You can have somebody at the table Jack over here in the corner hasn t

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1750.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - What is your attitude toward ending community protest?
    in California in the Taisha Miller case where police shot her through the car window the community wanted to continue protest activities because I think they were dissatisfied with the internal investigation or dissatisfied with the Justice Department s decision not to intervene I don t know the full extent of what our approach to them was but there were continuous protests Our job what they did out there was

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1760.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did power differences ever block the process or interfere with it.
    in fact there is a power imbalance Unless I can help balance that and empower each party to effectively participate at the mediation table we re not going to have an effective successful mediation So I explain that to the institution and I offer pre mediation training to both sides I also use that as a way to help each of the parties identify what their interests and concerns are and what they hope to get out of this process Sometimes that s particularly important for the institution because they often start out from the perspective of Okay how much do they want and how much of that are we going to give them They rarely think in terms of What do we want and how much of that are we going to get The reality is that they usually do want something from the community so this helps them become aware of that This is another trust building mechanism as well because I m acknowledging that You need things too What is it that you want What is it that you re looking for I want to make sure that both sides are heard and that we can talk about how each side s needs can be met I also let the institution know that it s in their best interests to have a well trained capable party on the other side because it will be easier to deal with and negotiate with them if they are capable Part of what the institution is afraid of is that they will have a group of ranting raving maniacs on the other side that they can t communicate with So part of what I m providing is some security some format which is reasonable from their perspective I may say to

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1770.shtml (2016-02-13)
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