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  • Stephen Thom Interview
    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 Question Do you as an intervenor help parties reach those conclusions or guide them as to how far to push and when to come to the table Answer In my work with CRS and the way that I look at is when the institutions are willing to come to the table in good faith then I think the protest time is not necessary Now I have to judge the good faith and whether the institution is sincere I have to judge whether the institution is really coming with real willingness to make a difference or if they just want the protest to end I think there is a fine judgment there but I tend to move to the table and let the table be the process to break down those barriers I don t know but I don t feel I m guilty of misjudging the moment During the civil unrest the Korean American community demanded a meeting with Mayor Bradley He was reluctant to meet with the Korean community The Koreans decided they were going to stage a series of protests They announced their intentions to march around city hall for 30 days and everything was fine until they decided that they were going to bring their drums and cymbals and began to march with this banging noise everyday The workers in city hall became infuriated and they started throwing stuff at the demonstrators Then the Korean leadership decided they weren t going to get any response from the mayor Even though CRS was constantly trying to get the mayor to sit down with the Korean community and to hear them out That s all they were asking to hear them out It wasn t until the Korean leadership decided they were going into City Hall to have a sit in that we were able to leverage a meeting I had to know all the agendas and issues and put them on the table in terms of who do we select to come to the table because we didn t get permission until the protest reached that climax So in that situation the protests were necessary There was reluctance about any concession for even sitting down and meeting and they kept building it up until it happened It was just amazing because once we got to the table they charged the mayor with being at fault and guilty of adding to the riot by his public statements and that he was a big part of why they thought he should remedy their financial losses The meeting did help to clear up several misunderstandings redirected their allegation against the Mayor to a civil suit against the City of Los Angeles and a willingness to seek FEMA assistance having exhausted the City options Question How did you get into that case Answer Well as soon as civil unrest took place CRS was flying down We were all based in San Francisco at the time Question So you were working out of San Francisco and this happened in Los Angeles how did you hear about it Answer We knew there were tensions here because we had been involved in a lot of pre riot conflicts between the Korean and African Americans and issues of police excessive use of force that was taking place We were down in LA all the time just putting out swap meet and African American community conflicts Stores and demonstrations The precursor to all the civil unrest was at least a year of spotted conflicts between Koreans and African Americans throughout We knew there was this backdrop of police and community tensions all along because there had been shootings of the Muslims and other altercations that we had to respond to all in the prior years We ve had gang leaders come to us and say we re going to declare war on the Los Angeles Police this is it We re tired of this because we feel like we are being hunted So there is just a great deal of tension prior to the civil unrest So after the Rodney King unrest took place and we knew that the Koreans were a big part of the civil unrest they began to organize You know they had their vigilante response teams groups of young people moving off with firearms to protect the Korean stores in the African American neighborhoods My task with CRS was to try to de arm the Korean community I started working with the Korean leadership and I knew some of the Korean leadership from other case work so I began to move in and actually we met the key leader of the young men s Korean organization that was really the organizer of the response for the Korean community to all those stores We were able to meet with them and convince them You ve got to turn it back over to the police now You re going to become a problem and you re going to become a victim of the police if you continue You ve got to de arm and you ve got to get out of it They re in control now so give it back to the police and move out of this So we were able to do that In that process we learned that there are these Korean victims associations formed where they are all vying for leadership There was a great deal of turmoil in between the different groups of Korean leadership trying to consolidate their power and status The reason was because money was coming from Korea to try to offset some of their problems They wanted to be power brokers There is a great deal of that within the Korean community of what is your status in the community and if you can be the controller of millions of dollars coming in relief you gain a great deal of status and cooperation and benefit So all of a sudden we had these organizations vying for this leadership of the Korean Relief Fund There was a lot of politics taking place within the Korean community Question You had learned the politics of the community the culture of the community over a period of time Answer I can t say I ve ever learned it because it is a lot more complex than I could have ever imagined but I was privy to a lot of meetings and explanations as to what was going on They used me a lot too to be candid with you because once the Justice Department comes in and they would say something in Korean and everybody would go Oh I knew I was being touted as a representative of the government coming in here I could never get clear stories from everybody But they gave us a lot of information there was a lot of trust and cooperation formed eventually The older generation was looking at the Korean money The younger generation was looking at how the United States was going to try to restore their community Some of the young people felt that in Korea I guess when there is a disaster the government will compensate you and make you whole you just lay out what your damages are and the government will compensate you They felt that the city had that role for them They didn t even know what the federal role was they were so focused on the city that they refused to be open to other resourcesWe knew the leaders and he was a very cagey guy but at the same time I think he used us but he gave us enough information to let us know what was going on He knew that we would at least insure their safety because we were playing that liaison between law enforcement between city hall the protection service agencies of the city government So they would give us just enough information so that they felt they were being protected at the same time they were getting their voice heard That s when they told me Here s our next game plan And I go What are you going to do now It was Well we re going to march around city hall I was at one of these victim association meetings and he says Steve come over here I want to tell you what we re going to do next And I go Oh no what And they say We re going to march and sure enough they could turn out 300 to 500 people at any event they wanted to Question So that was your alert Answer That was my alert I was the team leader for the Korean liaison I had a team of three other people who were stationed temporarily in Los Angeles for the Rodney King incident Question What did you do Answer Well we knew a demonstration was going to take place Since we know the leadership of the Korean community and felt we had a fairly good handle on them we decided to meet with city hall Question That s what you did in this case Answer Yes we met with city hall and the police to let them know what the Korean demonstrators intentions are what they re going to do that we re going to be on site that we have the leadership and we want to know who s going to be your leadership and how we can continue to communicate at all times because we just don t know where this is going to go After we met with the city hall police and let them know this demonstration was going to take place we had to let the LAPD know because there are multiple jurisdictions The other law enforcement agency that we didn t contact or develop a working relationship with was the parking enforcement police We later had a problem with them So we learned that we had to look at all the law enforcement agencies that were going to be involved So once we touch base and let everybody know what s going on we position ourselves as the liaison from the leadership to all these other entities We re constantly talking to the leadership as to where are you going to be how are you going to set it up what s the organizational plan how many people as much as we can get because having all the parties know is diffusing It s the unknown that hurts you in these situations As long as we say We re going to share this with the police they need to know because if they don t know they re going to over react they re going to put more police out there they re going to be upset because they put more police than necessary or other scenarios We try to give them all a picture of what s to be expected and what our role as liaisons and mediators will be during the demonstrations That s the position that we normally always take And usually in all the demonstrations that I control I always try to assign somebody to the leaders of the organization almost like a shadow because you know if anything comes up he s going to make the decisions All the information is going to flow through the leader so having a conduit you can keep the pulse of that demonstration We always try to have eye contact with them if not a shadow depending on what they will allow us to do We also if we can try to position somebody in a command center or whatever the counter operation is or at least have him know who that liaison is In this situation we only had four people so we really didn t have enough to station people away We all needed to be marching with the 500 people because you have other elements around City Hall You have of course workers but you also have some clients and homeless out there So there s all these potential levels for altercation and conflict Question As you were preparing were you working with the Mayor s people to encourage them to meet Answer We had already passed on the request and explained to them what they wanted to do but we were getting no response The mayor had a Korean worker on his staff and she was our liaison for a lot of our pre negotiations with the mayor She was a key person who really helped us into the Korean community from the very beginning Question But the mayor wouldn t move on it Answer He just didn t feel that he wanted to face that animosity and the blame and the anger He didn t think there was going to be any real benefit from it That was his position at the time I think he we all under estimated the Korean community Being of Asian American ancestry I don t think the Chinese and other demonstrators had the kind of vigor that the Korean community had But I think people never realized the loss the Korean community suffered There were families that were devastated What most people never understood about the Korean community is that people who had come here had pooled their money together as families and bought businesses and had an obligation to pay back to that family organization or friends Then they took the collateral from their business and bought another place So they were spread very thin in a lot of situations Once one place burned down or was damaged it had a significant effect It has this domino effect on many of the families in the Korean community It was really devastating We had a number of Koreans leave the country and say Forget it I m out of here I m going back to Korea They just could not ever dream of becoming whole So when you face that kind of devastation there is definitely a sense of hopelessness and in some ways it was therapeutic to march and demonstrate They didn t have any problems getting people out because at least it gave them a focus and a direction and some hope So these demonstrations were vigorous They didn t stop Question And your role during those demonstrations Answer It was to be right there as a liaison When they said we re going to be here from this point to this point we were there at that point to make sure that we were going to be there for that liaison between the leadership and the police Constantly serving as liaison to diffuse anything that may come up And things came up all the time Fundamentally our role is to insure that the first amendment rights of any American to speak freely and to demonstrate are protected CRS by maintaining open communications lines open is able to diffuse tensions and mediation conflicts that may arise Question For example Answer The Koreans had a pickup system They would bring these vans in and hundreds of people would line up to get into the vans to go back to Korea town It seemed to not be a problem but then some of the bus drivers started complaining that they re blocking the way So the law enforcement parkers decided to come in and give tickets Well the Koreans already felt hurt they had already lost too much They said We re not paying tickets and several Koreans began to tear the tickets up right in front of the officers One of the law enforcement parking officers went berserk on us He started calling cussing and arguing with these people He called for backup and all these midget cars come in from parking service like it was a showdown And I m going I can t believe this So we go in and intervene and say Wait a minute Stop What are you doing We could tell by his behavior that he was a non compromising skill kind of guy who was going to get his way or else I said I want to see your supervisor So we had to flash our DOJ identification tell him who we are tell them what we re about and say We need to see your supervisor You don t need to talk to these people We waited for the supervisor Meanwhile all these cars are flying in on us It could have gone crazy right there and then We finally get a supervisor and explain to him what s going on and he says Okay don t worry about it drop the ticket Let me get my guys out of here first I said Okay please It just takes somebody with a level head that understands the dynamics that will say Look you guys are being inconsistent You let them park here for several days and now you re enforcing parking restrictions all of a sudden We gotta work this out This wasn t fair to the Koreans So we were able to negotiate a different route and work all that out Question And that was typical of what you were doing Answer Yes it was conflict after conflict all the time Question How long did the demonstrations continue Answer Well we didn t make the whole 30 days I know that I remember getting to the 15th day and saying These people are obstinate this is amazing I just didn t think that it would be sustained Around the 17th day I think they decided We can march all these days but they don t get it That s when they decided to go into the building It was interesting because they kind of played with the doors to see what the reaction was going to be They d stay around the doors until bottles were thrown on them They would hang on these doors then start marching again The police would always meet you right at the door and say you can t go through here The police were adamant they were not going in I think one day they found a back door or some way to get in and they went right into the city hall Now we had 300 people right in the middle of city hall blocking the whole main floor demanding to see the mayor I told the sergeant they re coming in And he says Wait wait hold them off I go I can t They ve asked for this meeting So now they are panicking and willing to do more all of a sudden The message came out from the mayor s office that he would meet with a delegation Figure out who they want how many people He will meet with you this afternoon but you have to clear out So we convey the message and we negotiate all this I don t think they trusted the mayor I think we stayed there The mayor said Okay let s move the meeting up get your people So now we re helping them So who are you going to get You only get so many people No no we want more people And it was all right there on the floor of City Hall all this chaos Question The mayor set the limit Answer The mayor set a limit They tried to raise the limit They cleared the floor I think this was a little bit of a compromise We got a few more people in and they made their selection and they went in Then it was a matter of Let s go over the agenda What are you going to talk about We ve got to get some framework to this It was amazing to me Question Did you bring that to their attention Answer Oh yeah I pulled all those ideas together Actually when we got to the table I sat at the head of the table and I framed the mediation process right then and there and opened the door to the key spokesman of the Koreans to start them off Then the mayor responded Question The mayor was comfortable with you at the head of table Answer Yeah he didn t want to be there at all but he didn t want to be in the middle of it either He wanted somebody else to be at the head of it So I could see the politics that he was playing What amazed me at the table was that the Koreans I thought didn t raise all the issues I had to remind them of some of the other issues I had to say Aren t you going to talk about this issue I knew they weren t going to have that many opportunities If you didn t get it on the table then they re going to want to come back It behooved everybody I thought I didn t want to be an advocate but I certainly didn t want to leave the table without their issues being addressed Otherwise we might have to revisit this whole scenario again Question Were you able to do this without appearing to be an advocate Or were you an advocate Was that okay Answer I don t think I appeared to be an advocate because I didn t speak for them I basically reminded them that we had an agenda and there were issues that you wanted to bring up If you don t talk about it now you won t have a chance That type of approach I don t think anybody perceived me as being an advocate We didn t get a written agreement It was more of a conciliation They had to hear from the mayor exactly what powers he had and what his intentions were and what he could and could not do The mayor as politically as he could said We re not the vehicle for relieving you of your problems The proper vehicle is the federal government We have the Federal Emergency Management Agency here that will be looking at all those issues and looking at what your damages are and trying to rectify with you He didn t say they were loans he said They re the vehicle I looked at the Korean community and they go You don t do that We had told them all along that there were these different ways of doing that but until they heard it from the mayor they weren t going to accept it They thought the city had some obligation too The city did tell them what they could do and what they were working on and what kind of business support they were going to give and so forth They needed to hear all that So that was a point of clarification Question When you respond to volatile situations are you ever asked to do things that you can t do Answer Yeah They want me to go get the mayor They expect us to and in most mediations they want to get their point of view across and they want us to be an advocate for them We have to explain to them why that s inappropriate for us to do and what our role is Our role is to try and bring both of you together and to work with you to see how you can come up to some kind of agreement to resolve your issue We re not going to take your issue and fight it for you that s not our role What information you share with me sometimes I share with the other side and if there s something you don t want me to you need to tell me because that s a big part of bringing you both together to resolve it You guys own the problem Question Did that confidentiality you promised them ever create a problem Were you always able to stick to it Answer To my knowledge I have I don t know when I ve broken confidentiality When I talk about confidentiality you know we have press conferences after some of our mediations All I m saying is that we don t talk about specifics or what s discussed in the mediation Question But you ve never had a problem telling a party receiving something in confidence that you then feel you need to share with the other party Answer I may feel that it s the right thing to do but I have not stepped over that bounds unless they have given me permission or unless they ve conveyed it I don t think I ve ever violated that confidentiality Question When you re in your office and you are alerted to a conflict in a community how do you tend to respond Answer What I do is I look at the source of the referral and I try to dissect who do I need to talk to depending on the kind of case If it s an excessive use of force case I m looking for who is the spokesperson for the complainant Usually it is the NAACP CORE SCLC sometimes some community spokespersons evolve So I m looking for linkages to the complainant side My next step is to move out on to the scene and to begin an assessment to determine what the issues are and whether there is an appropriate role for CRS Question Is that where you start Answer Well I m looking at analyzing the conflict to figure out where or who to contact next I m going to look at all sides What police department who do I know that knows whom In Long Beach I ve had such a long association I ve known the last three chiefs I even think I know the up and coming chief I have several advisors in the minority advisory committees that I ve worked with over the years and I ve worked with the community relations division So I ll start with the Community Relations Division and figure out who s in charge of it who s doing it Then I ll hone in on the police side But the community side is harder to evolve if you don t have a clear organization that s championing the issue And it isn t automatically in our jurisdiction unless there is some kind of party that represents the complainant If it s an individual shooting and there s no organization behind it it s not jurisdictional to us if it s just an individual complaint I have to evaluate that immediately as I go along So that s a big part of our assessment One is it racial And two is there a party involved There have been times when I have conversed with an individual family and said you know it s really not jurisdictional to us unless you get an organization to work with you I can t work with you directly And they make a decision as to if they re going to involve NAACP or some organization to work with them so that we have a legitimate party involved After I assess that and determine where to go I usually call the complainant first and do my analysis and try to get that face to face meeting While I m getting ready to have that face to face or have that meeting set up I will call the other side whether it be police corporation school institution university whatever the other party is I will call the leadership and say I m from CRS of the U S Department Justice I m a federal mediator I m attempting to assess a possible race related conflict in an effort to reduce or resolve it I m in touch with the other parties you need to be aware of that I want to meet with you at some time also So I want to let both parties know that we are there and that my intentions are to meet with each of them I usually meet with the complainant party first because the institutions often don t know what the real issues are They don t know who the complainants are or what they re planning to do They often look to CRS in some form to help clarify what s out there So if I go to the institution first and meet with them I don t get that much If you meet with the complainant you get the details of the levels of mistreatment the full allegations the level of temperament the coalition of organizations You get a flavor of what the protesting body is about The institutions usually very much appreciate understanding all those dynamics So that s why I usually go from the complainant side to the institutional side Question Are you ever asked not to tell the other party that you re coming in Answer Well they probably have said that to me but I say I can t I ve already done that I m coming in to try to resolve the conflict I ve got to work with both sides Question Do you ever get asked not to come in Answer I m sure somebody has told me that laughing The BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs calls me sometimes I work with the BIA on Native American issues They ll call me sometimes and say Steve we ve got these two tribes and two contingents of families that are vying for the leadership of this tribe It s gotten really violent we ve had shootings over tribal governance housing employment and other kind of stuff One place was the Roundtable Rancheria I went into Roundtable right after they had a shooting The entrenchment and the level of tension between the two tribal factions was heavy They told me over the phone We don t want you in here You re just another government agency I try to explain that we re not the BIA because some of the tribes have a total dislike for the BIA When I explain I m with the Department of Justice that I m a federal mediator and that I ve come to help resolve their disputes sometimes they let you in and sometimes they don t And that s fine I mean if they don t want you in they don t want you in I don t think I could expect to force myself into every situation Question Have you ever managed a case over the phone and not gone onsite and yet provided some assistance Answer Yes because during the civil unrest when I was working with the Korean community I got a call about a riot in a school in Long Beach The principal says Steve I need you now I said I can t come now I m tied up And she said But we ve just had a riot this racial group and that racial group fought on campus during lunch and I don t know what to do We ve suspended so many but the students are coming back soon We ve still got a lot of tension I actually prescribed a strategy over the phone to the principal We talked every evening about where we were I tell this story all the time because it s amazing I talk about it in terms of how we can trust kids and when they give their word they mean it When problems occur we ve got to figure out ways to really empower students to be a part of the solution What I told this principal was Do you know the players do you know the real players that were involved in this altercation She said Yes between the counselors and security we know who the players are I said Okay bring them in one by one Tell them you need their help Tell them I want to make sure that we bring this school back together and I need your help Will you help me You re the principal of the school And she said Oh yeah just bring them in one by one I said Yes see if you can get them to support you What happens if they don t she asked Keep them on suspension So I called her that evening and she said Steve every one of them gave their word It s amazing these are great kids I said Yeah they are Have you never met them before She said Now what do I do I said Ok they re keeping their word they re helping to keep things calm She said Yeah they are but I don t think I can just leave it like this I said Now that they ve made a commitment to you you can bring them together as a group So bring the Samoan kids in Remind them they ve already made their commitment that they ve individually given their word so that peer pressure doesn t take them to another level Then talk to them about how we need you all to control not only yourselves as individuals but also others to help diffuse the tension here Then bring in the other group and do the same thing So she talked to them and she said They all agree we re all on the same page Things are still okay I said You still have some kids on suspension Well they re coming in she said they re giving me their word I said Ok you re moving along Now you need to decide when but at some point we can bring them together and we can get them to figure out what the issues are and to problem solve it and come to some solution on this Are you comfortable with that This is about a week into it She says Well they ve kept their word so far and I ve gotten to know them and I know the leadership pretty well and they really are working with me I said Then you re ready bring them together Let s go So I did it all on the phone over a series of a week She and a couple of counselors worked through that whole process with the kids We did it by phone There s just no way I could have been there Question Thinking of communities where you go in unknown as opposed to those that you know so well after all these years how do you identify the underlying issues in a conflict when you intervene Answer I m trying to get a good example of that I m sure I made a lot of faux pas on a lot of the Native American stuff But you re thrown in You have BIA to call and you talk to them over the phone

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/interviews/Stephen_Thom.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Martin Walsh Interview
    talked to them about what was happening and what they knew about the matter I said We want to see if we can be of assistance I would like to sit down with your group to explore this thing It was a matter of then trying to identify who are the players I think regarding the community groups it is who is moving this issue along Often it takes awhile to do it but that s our first process I remember then calling the police chief saying I would like to sit down with him and we set up a time for that Then it was the county supervisors who were in charge of the police department and calling them and saying I would like to sit down with you and talk about what is happening here and what happened there and the problems 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 In those types of cases the most difficult process issue is the reaction in the community There is no one reaction in the community to a shooting death There is no one leader How the community will process the death is the critical issue The first thing in meeting with the community was to assure myself that they were the leaders dealing with the shooting issue After checking out the matter in a few phone calls those identified in the media agreed to bring several of the leaders together who were meeting about this issue It seemed that they were some of the people who were moving this matter And so I sat down with them Of course they are talking about being angry they want a prosecution and What can the Justice Department do about this and What are you doing The first thing you do is to go through the spiel about here is the process There are several avenues There is the internal review process by the police to do the investigation you have the county attorney you have the state attorney general who has jurisdiction and you have the possible investigation by the FBI and Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice So at least they know what their options are what can take place and what the process is After that the other option is a civil case that can take place While that is ongoing I tell them it is going to take some time You can be recommending that and asking for this investigation or that investigation and things like that In the meantime I want to talk about other things that are taking place here What is the relationship with the police department how is it That starts the ball rolling as I try to elicit from them issues concerns that now with the attention given to the shooting lend themselves to the dynamic of dealing with the problems and concerns in the relationship between the police and the community Question You are making an assumption about what is going on in the community Answer Yes it s based on experience but it is also important for CRS to try to determine whether it s part of the assessment process there is a hook for us What is the dynamic there If in those meetings the community leaders said No we re great the police are doing this we have no problems etc than we would not proceed further But we know from our background and all the data about communities of color especially in the African American community that the general relationship between police departments and minority communities is not good There is a lack of trust a lack of response access and it s even worse between the youth and police So protest activity by itself can lead to a lot of frustration and anger and that can lead to nothing But if directed it might lead to getting at some of the issues and problems that are affecting the relationship between the police and community It can be a springboard to doing something positive The two things that have to be taken care of from our perspective as I see it is first we need to know what can be done about the specific shooting itself and the redress systems for the shooting So that was the first thing We ve got to clarify that and put it into perspective It gives them a sense of direction to follow if they want to and it puts that aside because we really can t do anything about the investigation or prosecution Then it gets into analyzing and assessing what else is taking place in that community that with the attention given to this that maybe we can help both the police and the community to deal with it Anger is there So what we are trying to do is get that tension directed into some effective type of response That s the process of talking with community leaders In that information gathering they start talking about some of the problems issues and concerns After that meeting I had a meeting with the chief coming up and the superintendent and country supervisor So I got enough information there and said to the community leaders Well in general would you like to pursue this and deal with some of these problems if we can get the chief and the county authorities to address some of these issues And they said Yes So I went back and met with the chief When he told me the shooting was a justifiable police action I said Well you know there are a lot of other things the community is concerned about and I mentioned several He was defensive saying Oh we are doing this we re doing that Then I used the argument from our experience in other places and said You know we recommend meeting face to face with the community leaders We can facilitate the meeting so you can have discussions with the community right there about these issues We think it would be helpful He agreed and most often I think police chiefs do agree to meet with community leaders on police type conflicts Question You scheduled your first meeting with the community group Answer Yeah Question Is that typical Do you tell the other party that you re going to meet with the others first or that you have met with them Answer It all depends upon the individual circumstances of the conflict In some of these cases when there is no overt conflict I often meet with the community first But when there is overt conflict like the case we had here in Medford I sent our people to the high school where there were the problems and they didn t have a chance to talk to the community first Schools were shut down because of racial problems that occurred the previous day I saw in the paper that the school was closed and the teachers and administrators were meeting I wanted our people there early so that we could be offer our help to school officials and others who maybe didn t know what to do in that situation So in that situation we met with the superintendent principal teachers and other school people to get a sense of what took place and the dynamics We offered some suggestions on what the officials might consider doing and then we set up meetings with the community and students to get a better understanding of the issues and problems But in a police conflict and meetings with the chief or administrators the more information we have about the dynamics of the conflict the greater the possibilities of a worthwhile meeting I always think that in our assessment process when we re meeting face to face authority figures give us little information voluntarily It s that face to face meeting or negotiations that we want to have if possible between the authorities and the community We re selling ourselves We re making an assessment getting his or her information but we re selling a process and uppermost in my mind is what do we really want What process works out here the best If there are organized groups in the community and they have issues we want face to face meetings That is the optimum Getting people face to face with the issues so that they can work out agreements The next best thing are the other alternatives where there s sometimes a fractured community You don t even have a group out there What are other possibilities Sometimes we provide training or technical assistance where basically one group is taking the lead role in creating change Question What does training and technical assistance involve Answer We do a lot of training with police departments related to issues that are affecting their relations with the community It can be from hate crimes to police community relations to multi cultural training The training will sometimes be our response to an incident This can be part of or independent of their meeting with the community For example we had a racial profiling complaint but we could not get the people who filed the complaint to meet with the police to work it out We wanted them and the NAACP in a meeting The chief was willing to meet with people who felt they were victimized but they did not want to meet They just wanted to file the complaint and get a response to it I think they may have wanted to file a suit So we met with the chief and he was willing to take the next step He said It would be good for us good for the community to know that we are going to have a training program with you guys on how to avoid these types of problems in the future It was a response to the situation or problem but it didn t entail mediation or even the involvement of the community in the resolution process Question You were talking about the importance of developing relationships and building trust Answer I think this kind of work in race relations especially with mediation and conciliation relates to the trust and confidence of all of the parties In most situations these problems come about on account of discrimination and there s a lot of history related to it a lot of distrust especially of officials and police We do most of our work with police So getting everyone dealing with these problems requires that the mediator or conciliator be a person of trust That s the first thing to get the confidence of the parties The interpersonal relations depend upon the mediator s respect for the individuals who often haven t been treated with respect by authorities The mediator needs to get their support and confidence that this intervention this problem solving is going to lead to something In the end all of our work is moving toward ending the discriminatory practices or perceived discrimination and in building relations between and among people I think the mediator has to be that person who already has built or is building these types of relationships of trust between persons In fact I see some of our least effective conciliators and mediators as being low in the interpersonal relationship category Something about their personality how they relate to people how they carry themselves in that relationship is so critical Some of the negatives of bad relations are a distance built up with the parties and you see it in the aftermath They re not called back by those who were involved in the problem They re not seen as a resource Some of the persons who were involved in their work complain about them Very often they don t complain overtly but afterwards they try to avoid them Good interpersonal relationships have not been formed Question They try to avoid Answer Community groups and or the authorities It can be both or just one of the groups I especially notice it with two of the groups that I think that are very critical of outsiders and I think pick up relationships more quickly than others do Police is one Often it s the hardest group other than maybe college presidents to break through And the other is youth young people Question What do you do specifically to build that trust when you come on the scene or begin to interact Answer I think a lot of it is how you come across to the person The respect you give them how you treat them the importance of it I ve seen some of our people while doing the assessment they are not building the trust but almost building a negative relationship by the questions they ask how they ask them It is almost interpreted as I perceive it as interrogation investigation Question Could you give me an example of an ineffective question and then an effective way at getting at the same kind of information Answer Well one of the big concerns in one of our conflicts was the lack of minorities in city government The mediator came into the meeting and said I want to ask you some questions about your minority recruitment How many minorities do you have in your agency and start writing it down What did you say Ten percent Twelve percent So the mediator starts conveying not a mediation conciliation role but conveying an interrogation investigative manner and already starting to build a different type of relationship with the person Right from the beginning the mediator s role is being interpreted wrongly The other is just conveying respect for the person you re talking to We refer to it as the informal non verbal communication process how you re relating to persons what you re saying what they re saying are you listening to them are you hearing them are you relating to them That s the thing and if the persons don t feel you re listening to them basically you don t care about them then you are not building that type of interpersonal relations with them that builds the trust confidence and the amount of respect and feeling that while you re a professional you re also understanding Question If you were going to initiate the discussion about minorities and the particular government example you gave how would you address that issue Answer To the mayor after the who we are and whatever You know one of the concerns that we ve been hearing about from the community is that there s a lack of African Americans Asians other minorities in city government What can you say about that What s been happening and what s your perspective on that Then they can start talking about what they see what they ve been trying to do I think their initial response is to be defensive anyway and they re going to talk about all the things they ve done and the obstacles I lead them on too Have you had problems recruiting and what are they After they go through it they ll probably say We have this we ve been trying to What they have done in the past What has worked and what hasn t worked from their perspective and their willingness to go to other lengths when the issue gets into a mediation process Question How do you let people know that you re hearing what they say Answer I think the body movement is important with people They can see that when you re listening talking to the person what they re saying I ve seen people who basically are not listening to what is being said and that behavior is being conveyed back to the other person very quickly by interrupting what they re saying by no reaction verbal or non verbal to what they re saying no empathy It s all these factors fitted together This is a special matter with police because sometimes the natural inclination of the individual mediator conciliator is that this chief hasn t been doing his job and has created all kinds of problems He s starting to get defensive Whether or not there s an understanding of what he s doing or conveying already there s a turnoff by just the looks I think it s that relationship that from their perspective they are testing us out especially when meeting a CRS person for the first time They really want to know who this person is where he or she is coming from We say we re impartial that we re here for a process That has to come through With also the empathy that you know what they re doing what they re going through I think that s the problem with I hate to say age but it s a certain maturity type of thing that the person you re dealing with and talking to knows that you understand what they re going through Maybe you don t agree with them but you re not outwardly showing that one way or the other You understand it and you know what they re talking about You re communicating Question Talk about building trust when you have an exceptionally emotional or tense situation Do you behave any differently and how do you deal with those tensions during that time Answer I think that how you deal with those are probably going to be the same way you deal with them in a non tense time but with an acceleration perhaps the problem solving has to go more quickly I remember one time when there was a major civil disorder in Lawrence MA and our people were in the day before There were two nights of civil disorder After the first night and CRS staff came in the next day CRS recommend several things that the city should be doing The city didn t accept the recommendations and there was another evening of civil disorder So I came in the next day and met with the mayor and police chief and said to them These type of issues and problems don t have to continue There are ways of trying to deal with this that have been effective in other places All I did was really repeat some of the recommendations our conciliator made to them with the heightened sense of This has worked elsewhere and can work here I don t know whether they rejected the advice when the other CRS staff person told them the same thing the day before because he was an African American They finally did all the things that we recommended The day before they had not Two things I think happened The problems continued and there was a sense that their rejection of our recommendations did not work for them Maybe the fact that I was a white person stating it to them helped them accept our recommendations I was more directive because we had already made a number of suggestions of how the authorities could bring in the community as a partner from the issue of the curfew bringing in community patrols the matter of an information and rumor control center and other things that worked in these type of situations It was a matter of someone being directive and telling them If we want to avoid any more nights of violence let s get these things moving now and get them started or otherwise we can continue this cycle of violence Question How about communication with the protesters were there any strategies for reducing the volatility Answer We have a protocol and policy on what to do when violence is occurring Basically it is to reach out to the community We want to get our major course of action there Our goal is to reduce the violence on the street and get the issues into some other type of venue where the people are talking and are planning meetings with one another to reduce the violence or eliminate it and get it off the street One of the strategies we employ for that is getting the community leaders patrolling their own streets We talked to the community and they were willing to do this the night before The first part of our response to civil disorder before we sit down and start dealing with the problems is that we ve got to eliminate the violence in the streets and people getting hurt So the community was willing to do its part In some places they wear yellow hats We had them wearing shirts to identify themselves as they went out into the streets to end the disorder and violence The authorities accepted it and the rumor control the second night Question Could you talk about Rumor Control Centers Answer That is where there have been civil disorders One of the ingredients of civil disorders always is that misinformation is going around There s a lot of fear there s a lot of people picking up bits and pieces of information and spreading it Rumors come out and most of the time they re very destructive The police pick up things like Carloads of Hispanics are coming up from Boston This was in Lawrence There are all these type of rumors How do you control that and get the correct information out both to the authorities and to the community What we recommend very strongly is setting up a rumor control and information center so that information can be filtered and rumors can be investigated and properly handled People are told to call the police or whoever is doing the verification process There s a whole protocol of how to set it up and how to do it and to assure that there is a centralized type of information center that basically is there to end the rumors and to dispense proper information to the public and the media Question Who generally manages that Answer Our recommendation has been that they get a person from the city usually from the Mayor s communication center to be in charge of the center and the people who answer the calls can be a cross section of persons from the community A centralized number is issued so that persons hearing rumors or wanting reliable information are urged to call the rumor control and information center The team at the center checks out each rumor with the proper authorities and provides the accurate information both to those calling and to the public through the media Question How do the people know that this kind of thing is set up and created Answer Through the media especially the electronic media television radio and the press Question You talked about being seen as a resource when you were talking about building trust You talked about communications and you talked about being seen as a resource Do you want to elaborate on that a little bit what you do to be seen as a resource Answer I think especially with the authorities we don t go in with one strategy and one canned plan that can work Looking at the issues the CRS person has more information from the community that usually wants to get access get these problems resolved and they have all these issues with the authorities What you re really doing is processing information You re starting to get that response back on how far the authorities are willing to go and what they re willing to do CRS is able to cite how we were able in similar situations to provide various types of services We had this case we mediated where they had a similar type of conflict people sat down they came up with this Or In the next city we trained the police officers we had a community forum we had the police and the community working together on it or the police changed their protocols on use of force They got to an accreditation process so they started building community trust In each one of those cited experiences we re describing CRS efforts and the type of services we provided in that type of conflict That was why right from the beginning when we set up the conflict resolution program back in 1970 1971 we pulled together all the types of experiences we had as an agency and codified them so that we had a more uniform and proven process Then we buttressed that by referencing in writing We did this in X city or Y city Even though the individual mediator or conciliator has not had all that experience or gone through that particular conflict he or she can cite what the agency has done or what we re doing The more current the experiences or examples of CRS effectiveness the better impact they have on both authorities and the community We re basically saying that to authority figures who often especially when they are in the midst of a civil disorder we often call this a paralysis of inaction don t know what to do Here someone comes in and says In this civil disorder here s what they did in X city or Y city and it works Here s the thing on the curfew here s some of the pros and cons It s all codified in our thinking and that s what we try to do pull it together so that the mediator is not totally relying upon his or her experiences but those of colleagues and predecessors Question Is that an available document or just an internal document the codifying of those experiences Answer I think it s an internal document it s the Management of Civil Disorders Question Do you ever use as a resource for example a police chief from another community who has had successful experiences Answer Not usually at the time of a civil disorder Maybe in the mediation stage afterwards but not in the height of the problem Usually it s our people in there trying to get to first base getting the process going Often we will refer them to another chief or a superintendent of schools or someone who has gone through that experience To have them in there immediately no but as part of the resolution yes We ve used police chiefs as consultants in such issues as civilian oversight complaint processes hate crimes policies and procedures and in addition we have used other citizens as resources But I don t think any of that will work until we get the people accepting our services and then we can do a lot Question What do you do when you can t break that barrier and someone says they don t want you in this case or one of the parties says we just don t want to deal with you Have you had that experience Answer I think the hardest thing is less that they are verbalizing that they don t want you in and more the other battle where you can see that they don t want you in and they want to put you off I think that s the more frequent thing They will say We can handle this or It was an isolated incident The techniques that I always use are that I don t like to allow them to make a decision for us I don t want to give them the opportunity of Yes you can come in or No you can t come in I try to put it in a way Related to this incident I m going to be in your community talking to some people and I d like to meet with you So basically it s not Well I can refuse you as much as you don t give them an opportunity to say No But then in the meetings with them often their reluctance level goes up and down the scale We try to get as much movement as we can from them and that s why I say in some situations we ll get a conciliation approach rather than a mediation approach Question What s the difference between a conciliation approach and a mediation approach Answer I guess in our conversation here even though we are changing the languages within CRS to include mediation across the board when I try to differentiate between conciliation and mediation mediation is the formal or informal process of people dealing with one another across the table It s a negotiation and problem solving process involving the parties communicating with one another Most of the time directly sometimes indirectly Conciliation is everything else It can be the training that did not go through both parties it could be technical assistance that is provided in a situation Much of our prevention work is conciliation because we don t necessarily bring the parties together Question Are you saying it s anything happening before the parties began to sit down to talk Answer Well we try to differentiate the assessment process from conciliation or mediation even though they run together very often I distinguish the assessment as all activity that leads up to our making a decision as to what we are going to do That usually entails acceptance by at least one of the parties Everything after the assessment is the conciliation process or the face to face or problem solving process which we call mediation Question Let s go back to the assessment When does it actually start Answer I think it starts right away with the first phone call that you re making You have the alert In fact you can start with the alert if a person calls it into us If a person calls into us a community group or superintendent of schools and says this is what s happening and I would like your help then the incident is the alert itself Obtaining the details and the cooperation of the parties is the assessment process Question You talked about working with a community group that was cohesive and you said there are other situations where you work with them in another way because they are not as cohesive How do you make that assessment as to the community s state of readiness to move ahead in different ways and address the problem Answer I think a lot of it is trying to see if there is a community group There is a problem of a shooting death of a Salvadoran that I am in the process of doing an assessment on right now I m trying to find out who is the community Who s the leadership Is this an issue to the community Question Is there always a community Answer When we can t find one we re really not going to do much other than conciliation probably with the police or other authorities That s when we may be getting into some training or technical assistance We re probably not going to be able to go further than that because we can t bring anyone else to the table You get bits and pieces but there is no group There was an article in the paper of an African American reporter who was stopped by the police while interviewing a person along side the road The article written by the reporter stated that the police stopped him and it was racial profiling The policeman said and this was in the article that he stopped them because a motorist passing by reported that the reporter had a gun That was in the paper It took place in a small community but I didn t know if there was any type of community organization there So I called the NAACP which we had worked with and asked What do you think of this Do you have any problems They said Oh yeah that s a problem What can we do about it I asked Are there any community organizations or groups that you re working with down there He said he would check it out It ended up there was really nobody other than the reporter in that community who was interested in dealing with that issue We did not have a local community group dealing with this issue In the subsequent meetings on this issue the community was just the NAACP and the reporter So it s who is taking the leadership who are the real players in these incidents Sometimes we go by who comes forward and is willing to address the problem I remember one of the problems with which I was involved in my hometown of Wellesley MA One of the cases there was with Dee Brown a basketball player with the Boston Celtics He was stopped as the alleged bank robber who robbed a bank in Wellesley the day before It led to a celebrated case in the paper There was a lot of publicity Into that process came a public meeting which the selectmen held in Wellesley at which the issue of the police treatment of him was discussed The police were defending their procedures But the major issue that came out of the meeting was that other members of the African American community came forward and said that they had been stopped driving through Wellesley The issue was racial profiling even though we didn t call it that then There was a real problem From that meeting one leader reached out and helped convene a group of African Americans some who testified They became the community group Was everyone reached out to No not necessarily But I always think you want someone who might be on the negotiating team If you want to make some progress I think the best way is through the mediation process and getting the community involved But sometimes you don t know whether that group is representative of the community There was no election and there was no formal group formed I suggested that they call themselves something so they called themselves the Wellesley African American Committee WAAC They dealt with a number of problems not only with the police but a number of other issues like schools in Wellesley Question In that case you were helping the community develop a state of readiness and really coaching and helping to strengthen them Answer Helping them to address the issues The issues were out there There was a meeting there were problems between the police and the community but before you could get into an agenda to deal with it there had to be someone who would be representing the community s concerns That was a suggestion on my part Why don t you call a meeting of some of the leaders and persons who are concerned with this issue and I ll talk to them about the process that we can provide They had a meeting and I came and talked about our process If they wanted to deal with these issues here are some of the things that have developed that are related to it We were not going to deal with the specifics of Dee Brown and whether he was going to be compensated or not but all these other issues that emerged in our discussions It was a part of a process just like when there is a group in the paper that is protesting and you meet with them The question often is are they a representative group or do they need to involve other people especially if we have already talked to

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  • Wallace Warfield Interview
    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 Question Okay Do you think that what you do as a civil rights mediator is different qualitatively than other types of mediation or would you use the same processes and strategies for other types Answer Yes and I feel the issue is not civil rights It s issues of social injustice social justice concerns it could be civil rights it could be other issues So I ve used similar techniques where I ve done an intervention in an organization and the women in the organization were concerned about their role So it was the same kind of dominance power suppression of voices very similar situations The women in the organization were concerned that the only difference I found in some cases was that if the women in the organization were of sufficiently high rank the ambiguity about their positions Should we be more vocal or just play the game We ve gotten this far we can just tough it out You have to figure out how do you help them in that sense Anyway that s another story Question Do you run into that sort of thing in race relations too though Answer Somewhat Somewhat If you ve got because again we re not dealing with monolithic communities so you ve got black communities that have all kinds of voices in them So it could be an issue of police use of excessive force but who is it Penelope Cannard says that communities have histories of disputes and you have to look at what has happened in that community over time I mean we re talking about in most communities except in hugely large cities and even there sometimes you pretty much have the same actors coming to the table time and time again over the same issues and these things have become incredibly personalized So people in a contemporary dispute are looking back to the past and looking forward to the future at the same time that they re involved in this particular dispute And so you begin to recognize that this is a pattern of disputing that s been happening and people have stakes So you ve got somebody who is the head of the Urban League or is head of the NAACP who has whether or not they feel they have been treated fairly had more success coming to the table with the establishment than the in the streets leadership figures have had So now you re looking at a situation where you re involved in two sets of negotiations While this negotiation is going on you ve got this side bar thing happening where in the African American component or whoever the minority component of the community may be this kind of factioning is taking place there and that has to be attended to and what you ll find happening is that those leaders who ve had some relative success negotiating in the past are afraid to lose what they ve had And when you go into these relatively small communities I mean these are communities where people have lived their lives and they re going to die there So it s not like they re going to say Well I m going to take some risks because next year I m going to move to Chicago It just doesn t work that way So your internal advocacy and value inclination to look snootily at those people that say they re selling out you re going to need to think about how they live their lives in that community and put yourself momentarily into the lives of the people living in a community while you luxuriously come in from the outside So yes I think that some of those same issues that women who are in relatively high positions in organizations but who are still being discriminated against find themselves in are analogous to a certain extent to middle class minorities who are in certain situations in communities Question As a CRS intermediary did you ever or commonly get involved in mediating between different groups in the minority community Answer Happens all the time I think that it was rare but as I said minority communities are not monolithic I m trying to remember a good example of that Well in Brooklyn New York this was in the 70s before the actually it was in the 80s before the no I have to get this straight now I left New York in 79 so the first time it happened was in the late 70s There were problems in Crown Heights even before the 1991 riots there Again it was a situation where there were tensions between Hasidic Jews and the black community and what you would have is in some instances more middle class blacks who lived in the community wanting to take one negotiated stance and that was being complicated by more militant groups of people coming in from the outside who actually weren t in that community but felt they had a role to play because in these situations more militant black leadership shopped for disputes shopped for conflicts to be involved in It s kind of like a it s a community version of the garbage can theory laughter Question What s the garbage can theory Answer It s an organizational theory that in effect says that in organizations there are disputes and conflicts that are habituated to that organization and that continue to get dealt with and resurrected by people What happens is these disputes and conflicts are never fully resolved It s that people own them and they will bring different versions of them to whatever the situation is in the organization They ll bring their version of it and it happens here too It s really interesting I think in communities you get the same thing you have people who I guess you could say more disparagingly are your professional rabble rousers but I think there are people in communities who look for these kinds of disputes and conflicts Anyway you often times find yourself having to negotiate between more militant people who want one kind of outcome and people who are themselves in the community maybe from a different class level or maybe just not as militant trying to determine if they need a different kind of outcome It s spending lots of time mediating between those groups Question Okay good Answer Success is one thing If you re looking at it from the standpoint of a proactive or more proactive response where you re using a more longitudinal form of conciliation or perhaps even mediation the success is defined differently Let me give you an example this is kind of a composite example and I ve used this often times in talks So you have Amarillo Texas CRS gets this is in the old days but CRS gets what was called an alert that there was a conflict between Mexican Americans and police outside a high school in Amarillo Texas there were some injuries some arrests but no deaths CRS gets called in to intervene In the old fire fighting conciliation days what CRS would do is to try to work out some kind of an agreement a contingency based agreement between law enforcement and the demonstration leaders or community leaders over the demonstration So CRS would say Okay police department would you accept self enforcing marshals and they go Sure okay Okay you don t want demonstrations to take place right on the school grounds could you agree to demonstrate three blocks away If you get a response of consent then you leave If you got that agreement that was a successful outcome Then you find out that tensions resumed a short time later You go back in and you say What happened We thought we worked out an agreement Well that wasn t the issue What was the issue The reason why they were demonstrating It s because a school principle expelled two Latino students for speaking Spanish on school grounds which up until in some states in some locales the mid 80s you couldn t do It was against the law to speak Spanish on school grounds So you go back in and you discover well the cause of the conflict was the expelling of these two Latino students so now this is a different kind of issue So is success simply reaching an agreement on how people can demonstrate No it s no longer sufficient as a measurement of success So now success looks like something else So success looks like maybe getting the two students readmitted Could you stop there You could but let s dig a little deeper If you were doing this on a fuller basis of mediation on a much more proactive basis then your going through stages of reaction to more proactive stances And so the more you move along that continuum your measurements of success change along with that movement And now you re saying Okay can we get school boards and Latino leadership in a negotiation around school policy and get an agreement on the outcome about school policy Now that s a different measurement of success That little story in many ways speaks to the evolution that CRS went through Except for there wasn t a perfect evolution because there were people in CRS who wanted to make the change and the transition to a much more deeply rooted longitudinal kind of intervention and there were other people who were very much wedded to the reactive model and wouldn t change So you had this kind of schism within CRS largely and to a certain extent abetted by the demands from Congress that we show numbers well you can show numbers better reactively than you can proactively Question So was there more of the long term proactive kind of response later in the history Answer I think so I think for one reason the sheer changing of the economy and scale so we begin to have regional offices CRS goes from a staff of 50 field people to at one point over 300 people At its zenith in 1972 before Nixon cut the agency there were almost 350 people in CRS CRS regional offices were composed of on average a regional director a deputy regional director a resident mediator and a conciliation staff of easily 7 or 8 conciliators Then we had specialists in housing police community relations economic development and education attached to each regional office CRS had something almost like a built in foundation It had both a conflict response and a resource development mechanism all rolled into one So when a mediator Silke Silke in Denver was a perfect example of this Silke who has an education background Silke would be mediating and I remember her doing this a dispute it might have been Aurora or one of the other communities in Colorado and if it got to a point where the parties needed more information she simply called in one of CRS s education specialists who went right on the scene because that person was now separate from Silke Silke could have given the same information Question Yeah right Answer But Silke of course had to guard her impartiality So we had this incredible resource on tap Several things happened One was that the CRS was growing too fast for other federal agencies who felt we were competing with them the advocacy thing got us in trouble and one of the other things that got us in trouble was that we had a whole program dealing with minority broadcasters helping minority broadcasters get licensing Did you hear that story Question Well tell me again Answer Well my memory of it is this was a Hispanic congressman from Texas as I understand This was a minority group a black and Latino group in Texas I don t know which city it was I don t remember challenging the traditional stations on relicensing The station owners go to the congressman and say Should we be worried about these people and the congressman says Bunch of rag tag militants Don t even worry about it The license was successfully challenged the congressman got hit in his financial pockets and he had to raise this money every two years for reelection He goes on the floor of the House at budget time and denounces CRS Well he was a Democrat but it simply gave the Nixon administration just the excuse that they needed I think it was more than just that one issue but it could have been the straw that broke the camel s back Question That s actually a different story Answer No it s a version of it Question Did the changing nature of the Civil Rights movement play into this at all Answer Say more about that Question We ve heard from some people that back in the 60s everybody was into demonstrating and there had to be more putting out fires because there were more fires burning Now minority groups have gotten more sophisticated they tend to do it more in court so that the nature of the work that CRS does is changing Answer Yeah I mean I don t know what else to say about that I think that s true Question Okay Does that mean that there s not so much of a role for the agency anymore Answer Well again it goes to what kind of identity does CRS want to have I mean CRS was I thought incredibly wedded or was certainly split between competing identities One identity I would call the Wounded Knee identity flying into a situation bullets whizzing over your head What did you really do Well that was secondary The main thing was the excitement You were in the thick of things and it was tangible the fear was tangible it was exhilarating Not the kind of ambiguity from doing some of the more long term kinds of processes where you can t see the outcome Our field of Conflict Resolution is a field where you have to live with ambiguity If you can t live with ambiguity you have no business being in the CR field But in that way CRS at the end of the day could say Well I stopped these two guys from burning down a store in this community These other two guys were about to pull out a rifle and shoot across a ridge and I stopped that You could count that you could measure that It doesn t matter whether or not you could actually see what you did The other part of the agency and I would think that I was one of the people that made the transition I was never really wedded to the fire fighting notion to begin with you know and so many of us who saw the handwriting on the wall said Those of you who think about CRS in the Wounded Knee fashion are perpetuating a myth of communities that no longer exist The minorities in the communities are becoming more sophisticated than we are Why do they need us They don t really need us you ve got other groups and other organizations By that time the field of dispute resolution was becoming more professionalized as there were community based DR centers the justice centers were coming online and people were just sort of nibbling away at the flanks of CRS I d say from the mid 70s on And you know much of the agency had sort of surrounded itself in this reactive approach and many of us were saying Listen things are changing and we d better change But there were people who came out of that Civil Rights era who knew protests in fact were comfortable with that because that s who they were The old militant leadership who knew nothing but protests in communities began to lose out to more sophisticated people who had more skills like the Atlanta based NAACP and to negotiating Not that the protests still weren t useful from time to time but the landscape of disputing was changing and the agency had a very difficult time making the transition From what I understand from the few people I stay in touch with there still is some of that difficulty there Question Do you feel that when you were a regional director there was any tension between you and Washington in terms of what was successful or not Answer I think at the time that I was in the regions there wasn t that problem because we didn t have that pressure on us We could do whatever we wanted to do at that point The definitional pressures and problems emerged with the cutbacks We had to survive and the question was how do you survive That s where the schism really began Heidi I think at that point my argument was that I didn t see a reason why we had to throw the baby out with the bath water I wasn t convinced that Congress needed the numbers when I testified before Congress it was of our own volition that we shared the number of disputes they didn t ask us about that And even when they did they weren t terribly interested What they were more interested in was whether you could tell them what you did in their individual districts now that s what was more interesting to them politically The sheer numbers well they would just get glassy eyed First of all you re talking about numbers when I was there of doing 1060 cases a year against an agency like Health and Human Services doing you know 40 times that number whatever it is they were doing So the point being that I was never convinced that Congress was terribly impressed by the numbers but we sort of convinced ourselves that we thought they were some people did When I got to Washington some of us tried to get the agency to rethink itself which was very very difficult to do to look at different kinds of measurements of success and then do more to work harder in convincing Congress and the Attorney General s office that these were more important things to do It was an uphill battle slightly more successful in the Carter administration less compelling in the Nixon administration and in the Reagan administration they really didn t care frankly Question How does the media play into this We ve heard from some people that Oh we took a very low profile but then that caused us problems when it came time for refunding Answer I think that again it s a situation of the styles of intervention that were in fact necessary from 1964 up through the classic Civil Rights era The nature of intervention changed afterwards and CRS didn t in many cases keep up with the change So it made sense when you were in Selma Alabama and white businesspeople would come to you privately and say We know this change has got to be made we can t talk about it but we trust you to do this and that you will not talk about it that CRS would always be very low key The problem was that there was less of a need for that than in the South and though the conflicts changed the habit is still there Now I hear through the grapevine that CRS was significantly involved in the Elian Gonzales situation in Miami I could read the newspapers I could read between the lines and I could see CRS s fingerprints with nary a word about CRS Question No Answer So Janet Reno who knows CRS very well and who is a supporter of CRS bless her soul gets the limelight but CRS was in there doing stuff CRS played roles in convincing her how to intervene in the critical hours of taking Elian back from his relatives Never got into the papers it would have been a wonderful story But CRS does not know how to tell stories about itself for one thing and the other problem is that CRS people don t write by and large So even when there are opportunities to write for journals in the way that I wrote the negotiation article I did a few years ago I didn t mention any particular cities I simply wrote it from a composite perspective It was really about two cities but I didn t have to use their names Well CRS people could do the same thing but they ve gotten themselves into this notion that they can t write and there s no indication that that s true They could write those of them who have a bit of a theory perspective could write that way I mean John Chase could write and can write Question How much do you know about the Gonzales case Answer Not a lot Question There was a hint in the newspaper that mediation did take place and I myself was wondering if CRS did that Answer The role that I understand CRS played was Tom Battles who is the Miami field office representative I know all of the CRS people on the scene as well but what they did was they worked very closely with Janet Reno and her staff advising her about the temperament in the community and on the timing of taking Elian back from his relatives and how that could be done So to me it s interesting and somewhat ironic to the extent that the media portrayed this as sort of a jack booted intervention In fact I guess it could have been a lot worse had CRS not been there you could argue Question What do you know if anything I ve been curious for a while there was I don t even remember where he was from the black guy in New York who was shot 41 times Answer Yeah Diallo Question I said to myself my God another Rodney King the city s going to blow up Answer Mm hmm Question And it didn t Answer Yeah Question Was that CRS Answer I ve no idea Question I m just curious because it certainly looked like it would have been Are there some things that CRS can do that others mediators can t do because they re with the Department Answer Well I think what CRS can do and it cuts both ways is that CRS can often times get entre where other mediators can t because they have a platform For better or for worse they represent an official agency which waxes and wanes in its reputation depending upon what s gone down before that CRS intervention So if it s Waco Texas not too good So in many ways somebody coming in from the XYZ Mediation Center couldn t get to first base whereas CRS has got their nose in The problem with that though is that once you get your nose in the tent there s an expectation that you re going to conduct an investigation and then CRS has to say No we don t do investigations we do assessments What s the difference And then you have to go into the difference between an assessment and an investigation So then you re going to be quick on your feet On the other hand it s again sort of ironic there was a conflict actually it was in one of the cities that I talk about in the Negotiation Journal article It s a city that I did an intervention in while I was here at ICAR that CRS had attempted to get involved in before Frank and I came in and they got thrown out Question Why Answer Well because the city official did not want the NAACP and the African American community were calling for an investigation of something allegation of police use of excessive force so they were calling for an investigation So the poor CRS representatives go in and say Well we d like to be able to help and the city manager says No way We don t want anything to do with the Department of Justice And they said Well we don t represent it at all Yeah sure So then I come in with Frank we go in and we successfully intervene in that case And I didn t have to do this because my portfolio wasn t being requested but the impishness in me said Oh by the way I used to work for CRS laughter Question And this is why you work here Answer Yeah Question How often did that happen that CRS was denied Answer Oh lots It happened a number of times Question Would they go in anyway Answer You could The Title Ten Mandate says that CRS can go in under its own volition but in a practical effect what good does that do If you can t work with anyone Question Tell me a little bit about how you go about building trust especially with the white community Answer Well one way that it happens is that many of the cities in which CRS intervenes or has interventions are repeats So you know Silke has probably been into wherever Aurora let s say thousands of times over the last 15 years that she s been in Denver After a while people get to know you and so trust gets built up over what you did in the past People trust you from that standpoint and that s one way that it happens Another way it happens is to go in and suggest to the establishment Gee Police Chief Jones why don t you call Chief Johnson in so and so city You re all members of the Association of Chiefs of Police Give him a call and talk to him about what we did Often times that would even happen without your having to suggest that So you make your phone calls that you re going to intervene so there s usually a lapse time of a day or two By the time you get there that police chief may have already checked you out Question Have you ever had a problem where you weren t trusted because of your race Answer Sure I did an intervention in one of the bigger midwestern cities Again it was a situation of police using excessive force It was a mediation and I don t think the police chief trusted me I think he felt that I was not neutral So I think there was a situation where the mediation broke down I don t know that it broke down completely because the police chief didn t trust me I think there were other factors involved Question Were you able to get around that Answer Again without fully knowing the real reason the mediation broke down it s hard to say I was there on two occasions for relatively short intervals for maybe two days It s hard to say without a lot of discourse in between the actual sessions what aspect of this had to do with the fact that he didn t trust me I don t think he would have ever said that and I would have had to attempt to ferret that out in some form or fashion which would have been difficult to do without more exposure to him and more feedback Question But you didn t manage to get back on track Answer No Question Some closing questions that deal with theoretical questions How did you usually get involved in cases Did people call you up or did you go out looking for cases Answer Well both ways There were several ways that CRS got involved You d get calls and again it has to do with trust and reputation The more you did and the more you were known the more frequently you got calls to come into a situation rather than having to go through the newspaper find a conflict and then sort of figure out how to make the contacts to get in doing what we would call the cold contact fashion The more we did work over the years in various communities around the country the more people knew CRS and actually the more calls that would come from the establishment side as well Question And then once you got in how did you conduct your assessment Answer Well several ways There are two types of assessments The first level of assessment should be deciding whether you re even going to intervene And that s mainly a content analysis kind of approach you know you re doing some reading of articles reading papers trying to see if you can get a sense of the issues Is this amenable to a CRS intervention At one point CRS had a fairly sophisticated for want of a better term crisis response analysis mechanism that ranked disputes and conflicts on levels of intensity That was supposed to act as a guide for your intervention but I think if a CRS person wanted to get involved in something he she would manipulate the data so that it would meet the appropriate level of intensity But Question What were the criteria Answer I don t remember one of them would be Is there violence taking place for example Are more militant groups in the community involved Is there at least a preliminary assessment that some level of damage has happened A lot of the intervention mechanisms were sort of built around a crisis response situation One of the problems with that mechanism was that it did not re tune itself to capture measurements for the more sophisticated kinds of disputes and conflicts so that was discarded fairly quickly as I recall So you would do an initial assessment and then you would determine based upon the level of conflict the accessibility of it Some determination was based upon an economic scale were there enough resources to get involved If the conflict was a thousand miles from the regional office did it make sense to actually get involved in that particular issue when you could do something else So you do that level of assessment and then the second level of assessment would be on site On site assessment was tantamount to intervention It s pretty difficult to go into a town to do an on site assessment and then not get involved so it s tantamount to the intervention So over time on site assessments really became assessments to determine what you would do not whether or not you would do it And then there would be the intervention Of course the typical CRS method would be to decide who to interview and then who to interview first and then explore whether or not the sides were amenable to any kind of a process for coming together for a way of negotiating out their issues Sometimes you wouldn t use the term negotiation you might call it talk or whatever Question So when you were making that initial telephone assessment as to whether CRS should get involved was one of your criteria whether or not you thought they d be amenable to talks or was that something that was left for later Answer Well you d get some of that If you got into a conversation with people on the phone you might ask Is this something that you think you d like to get resolved What do you see happening What do you want to do with this You may not ask them about whether or not they want to get it resolved you might ask What do you see as an outcome What would you like to see happen in this particular situation Depending upon what they would say that would give you some clues as to their willingness to sit down and talk Question And if you had the feeling that they probably wouldn t would that be a reason for you not to get involved Answer Not necessarily It certainly would make your job a lot harder but what CRS would do is that they would change the nature of the intervention So if the intervention was initially thought of as being a conciliation or a mediation that would bring both sides together and one side or the other particularly the establishment side decided that they didn t want that to happen you could still go in but you wouldn t be doing that you d be doing something else Maybe trying to reduce the level of violence or doing some kind of evaluative work with the minority it tended to get CRS people in trouble when they did that because the other side always knew when you were in town and you d have to sort of answer to the question I thought we told you we weren t interested Yeah but I m here doing something else And you don t want to push it to the point where you re saying I m the federal government and I can go anywhere I want You

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/interviews/Wally_Warfield.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • the pictures and the story blew up Still the school administration chose not to punish the students because the incident had occurred off of school property Instead Principal Edwards called the students into his office told them their behavior was inappropriate and asked them to take the pictures down The students complied and Principal Edwards hoped the whole thing would blow over A few weeks later the school held a pep rally for the football team The student body was wound up because the football team had a chance to go to state for the first time in 20 years Students were yelling and pounding the bleachers with their feet When it came time for the dance team to perform the group which is mostly made up of minorities refused to dance and instead sat down on the floor with their arms crossed and their heads down The captain of the team grabbed the microphone and made a speech protesting the blackface photographs and accusing the administration and the white students of being racists The student body already excited because of the game exploded Some people cheered the speech while others stood up and started yelling racist slurs and throwing things at the dance team Several teachers aided by the resource officers in school police escorted the dance team out of the gym and into the principal s office where they were all suspended for causing a disturbance in school and failing to get their performance approved before the pep rally The other students were all sent back to their classrooms and the teachers tried with varying degrees of success to go on with their regular lesson plans without dealing with the incident any further Since the pep rally Agnew has become increasingly tense Teachers complain that minority students angry

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/simulations/racial_conflict/background.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Subsidiary Assessment Questions
    initial meetings during your intervention private and confidential How did you respond if you thought that CRS intervention might harm a legitimate protest activity How did you identify the proper people to talk to or get involved How did you

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/selected_qa/s0900.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Subsidiary Response Planning Questions
    At what point in the process Did the parties assist in the goal setting process or influence your choice of goals How How did you determine your own role e g to act as an advisor conciliator or a mediator

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/selected_qa/s1000.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Subsidiary Trust Building Questions
    parties How did you detect whether your trust building efforts were successful Were you able to work effectively when trust levels were low between you and one of the parties How Was your race or ethnicity a factor in your ability to build trust with the disputants Can you recall any examples of when you served as a scapegoat or in some other way helped a party save face What

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/selected_qa/s1060.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Subsidiary Issue Identification Questions
    define or prioritize their issues How did you do this Did you find yourself assisting one party to understand the other party s perspective Did you have effective techniques for persuading a party to reframe the problem to make it negotiable How did you deal with seemingly intractable demands on a party s agenda for negotiations How would you deal with a demand on one party s agenda that the

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/selected_qa/s1200.shtml (2016-02-13)
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