The Great Hall
Department of Justice
10th and Constitution, N.W.
Friday, September 18, 1998
MR. HENDERSON: I'd like to ask everyone to stand. We're going to do a rendition of "America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner." I'm being accompanied by Ginny Lum.
(""America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner were sung.)
MR. HENDERSON: You may be seated.
We now turn the program over to Associate Attorney General Harry Fisher.
MR. FISHER: Good afternoon. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I would like to welcome you to the installation ceremony for Rose Ochi, Director of the Community Relations Service, and the CRS awards presentation. We're pleased to see so many friends and colleagues join us on this very special occasion. We have a number of special guests who are here today, who you will meet after the ceremony. I myself ran into an old acquaintance from Jerry Brown days, Cruz Renoso, former Justice of the California Supreme Court and now at the UCLA Law School. It's nice to have Cruz here. And Dave Cunningham, former City Councilmember from Los Angeles. L.A. is well represented today.
We will begin -- we did begin with our wonderful musical rendition from George, and I appreciate his being able to do that.
Let me talk a little bit about CRS. CRS is a unique arm of the Department of Justice, whose mission is to promote peaceful race relations by helping communities move closer to the ideals of tolerance, understanding, and to learn and draw strength from our diversity.
It has been my pleasure to work with Rose and to have CRS under my jurisdiction as the Associate Attorney General. I can't think of anyone more ideally suited to lead the Department's Community Relations Service than Rose because of her own civil rights background. But she has also had experience working with law enforcement and she has a long, long history of involvement in community service.
Actually, working at Justice together has been a reunion for us. I first met Rose through the intercession of a very, very dear and wonderful man, Armand Jewel, who was a municipal court judge in Los Angeles. He invited me to lunch one day at Lucy's El Adobe. Those of you from California and Los Angeles know that that was Jerry Brown's hangout. Jerry I don't think was there that day.
But Armand was a really colorful figure, and he introduced me to Rose when she was then working for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, specializing then in education and juvenile issues.
Later our paths intersected again when she was on the Los Angeles County Bar Board of Governors and we were both working on issues relating to criminal justice reform. She was particularly instrumental in establishing the County Bar's neighborhood justice center and she was the first Asian American trustee of the center.
Indeed, she has racked up a number of firsts, including actually with this appointment at CRS becoming the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve at the Assistant Attorney General level.
As the former Director of the Criminal Justice Planning Group for the City of Los Angeles, she was there a catalyst for change. She created one of the country's first domestic violence prosecution units, an anti-gang program, and the Falcon drug abatement task force, which is just a few of the things that she was able to accomplish.
Our paths crossed again when I became president of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Rose got here ahead of me, at least by design through the Mayor's office in Los Angeles, because she started interacting with the COPS program and helped put together a proposal that led to the Los Angeles Police Department becoming one of the funded agencies, funded departments, to help it move from the traditional policing arrangement to the community-oriented policing model that is now so familiar. The irony of it is that, having moved from the Los Angeles Police Commission to the Associate's job, I now also have jurisdiction over the COPS program, and so Rose and I have gotten together once again.
Rose initially in the Clinton Administration was appointed as the Associate Director of the White House Drug Policy Office. There she knew that understanding the answers to the drug problem and to deal with them have to involve local law enforcement and community stakeholders, and she demonstrated her talent for innovation by coordinating the development of the Break the Cycle pilot program.
Now that she's here at CRS, she has been equally effective and innovative. Under her leadership, CRS has played a major role in furthering the race initiatives goal of conducting honest and constructive conversations about race, and I'm sure you'll hear more about that today since Rose and the Attorney General have just come from a meeting on the race initiative over at the White House.
In addition to developing the One America Dialogue Toolkit for the race initiative, Rose has been tireless -- and I can attest to that -- in her personal efforts to hold race dialogues around the country. She has also played a major role in the Attorney General's hate crime initiative, including the primary responsibility for developing hate crime training curricula for local law enforcement.
Over the past 2 years, Rose Ochi has accomplished much. I know from my personal meetings with her, which are frequent, that she has many more plans for the best delivery of race conciliation services and new ideas for achieving institutional change. I have no doubt that she will leave a lasting legacy at Justice, just as she has in the City of Los Angeles. And I am pleased to be able to work with and have Rose as a colleague.
Let me now ask Rose, who we've heard so much about, to step forward and at long last be sworn into office. Rose.
Rose's husband Thomas Ochi will hold the Bible, and I would like to point out that Rose and Tom just recently celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: Ms. Ochi, raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I -- state your name -- do solemnly swear --
MS. OCHI: I, Rose Ochi, do solemnly swear --
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.
MS. OCHI: I will support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies both sworn -- foreign and domestic.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
MS. OCHI: I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: That I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
MS. OCHI: I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation. Did I skip something?
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: Or purpose of evasion.
MS. OCHI: Or purpose of evasion.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: And that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I'm about to enter.
MS. OCHI: I will faithfully discharge the duties upon which I'm about to enter.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: So help me God.
MS. OCHI: So help me God.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: Congratulations.
MS. OCHI: Thank you.
MR. FISHER: We all want to offer our congratulations to Rose, but Julian jumped in, Julian Dixon, the wonderful Congressman, jumped in before I could introduce him. So now that he's done such a good job of administering the oath, I want to introduce Julian Dixon from California and Los Angeles.
MR. FISHER: Congratulations to Rose, and now we're going to have a quick congratulations and picture taken over here.
MS. OCHI: Thank you very much. You can well imagine how delighted I am. I waited long for this very moment and I'm very pleased that you're able to join me today. Thank you.
Attorney General Reno, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Associate Attorney General Ray Fisher, honored guests, friends, colleagues, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Land Lee -- I dropped that "Acting": All of you, you honor me by your presence.
I want to begin today by thanking my husband Tommy. Tommy's been my best friend, my cheerleader. He's always provided loving support for my career aspirations, although this time he's become a bicoastal latchkey spouse. Tommy's doing just fine.
My friend, Chief Bernard Parks of LAPD, asked Tommy: What is it like with Rose in Washington? And he responded: Well, one thing for sure, we use less toilet paper.
This is actually payback time. He roasted me at my farewell dinner. I hope I'm not being too irreverent for the Great Hall of Justice.
During my interview for my initial appointment with the drug czar, Dr. Lee P. Brown, he warned me. He told me that: Are you sure you want to come to Washington? He said what he has learned, that in Washington your friends stab you from the front. And I was -- always late, Lily. Lily, always late.
When I was flying here from Los Angeles, I was on the same plane with Congressman Julian Dixon and he advised me that the Nation's capital is a cold and mean place, and he said to me: It can get very lonely. He said: If you want a friend, get a dog.
Well, Julian, with your true friendship, always being there for me, whether you're speaking for me at my confirmation hearing on very short notice on behalf of the California delegation, your strong advocacy for CRS in our rebuilding effort, and again today, even during the busy Black Caucus Week, you've made time for me, to preside over my investiture, and I'm very grateful.
REPRESENTATIVE DIXON: It's my pleasure.
MS. OCHI: You've proven yourself wrong by your own actions, and I'm so glad.
Ray Fisher is a lawyer's lawyer, but he's always had a keen interest in criminal and social justice, giving him the perfect background for the Associate's position. And from CRS' perspective, an agency that's involved with communities, although he has many demanding issues before him, major litigations involving antitrust, he cares. He cares about civil rights and he cares about race relations. So we're very fortunate indeed.
Eric Holder, before assuming the post of Deputy Attorney General, as a U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., he was considered by many as the most active community-oriented U.S. Attorney. As such, he knows firsthand about the value and the effectiveness of CRS in restoring calm in the Mount Pleasant civil disorder and conflicts regarding Korean grocers.
So it's really great to work for leadership that understands our mission and embraces our role as an integral part of maintaining public safety and protecting civil rights.
Attorney General Reno. Before I came to my interview for the post, a former staff member told me that I should not get disconcerted if there are some long pauses of silence during our meeting, and I really came prepared. I wanted this job. And I launched into who I am, my personal background.
And she said something to the effect: I've long respected your work. And I think: Hey, good start. So I talked about what I'd like to bring to the agency, and I'd start rattling off some of my relevant experiences. She said nothing.
So I leaped into rattling off all the ideas I had and things that I wanted to accomplish. And when I finished, silence, nada. And I smiled and she smiled, and still silence.
So I couldn't stand it any longer and I said: I would really be proud to work for you. And she responded, she will talk to the President.
Ms. Reno, I am very proud to work for you.
Every day I feel truly blessed that I have been entrusted with this awesome responsibility of holding peace in communities where peaceful relations are threatened. I have worked very hard to deserve the confidence that you have placed in me and I very much deeply appreciate your support and the commitment to the agency.
While there were those who said I should have my head examined for assuming the helm of an agency that was just gutted, I want you to know I have never regretted a moment. I could not have written a more perfect job description for myself.
We just spent a week at our annual staff conference, and as we talked I heard so many of our conciliators echo that same refrain. In fact, I've heard often: And we get paid for doing this, too?
While our forces have been radically reduced in numbers, CRS' dedication is not diminished. We are strong in heart to what many of us believe is our sacred trust, to securing equal justice. So as we pause today to give special recognition to the CRS and the Director's special achievement awardees, I want to publicly applaud each and every one of you, because you are all winners.
For over 30 years our conciliators have been on the ground responding to calls from local communities where racial and ethnic conflicts could threaten peaceful relations. Our casework at CRS can almost serve as a barometer of the state of race relations in America. Our plate is very full in the aftermath of church arsons, hate crimes, and civil unrest. In fact, two of our conciliators were called away yesterday to lend assistance to a potentially volatile situation in California.
The recent murder in Jasper, Texas, demonstrates the need for a well-resourced Federal race conciliation corps. We have come a very long way in the battle against racial hatred. But time and time again we are reminded that we have a long way to go.
On a more personal note, it has been especially rewarding for me to play a role in helping to advance the President's vision of one America, a place where people are valued and embraced and that we come to see that our diversity is a source of our strength.
On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Little Rock desegregation case -- CRS was the court-appointed mediators of the education plan -- I traveled there, and while there I made a personal pilgrimage to Roer, one of America's concentration camps during World War II. While there, I experienced many memories, some of them very happy and some of them very painful.
I remembered being lined up one day to be renamed. My parents had given me a beautiful name, Takayo, meaning a child with high ideals. But the well-meaning ladies in Arkansas decided to give me an American name, Rose.
When I think about it today, I consider myself lucky because, gosh, just think, I could have gotten "Petunia."
Each of us has a story to tell. Actually, we had a race dialogue at our retreat this week. This is all a necessary part towards the racial healing that's been spurred by the President's initiative. And although I have painted a picture of a bleak landscape of church arsons, hate crimes, and racial strife, I am hopeful. I believe that there's a connection between my life and what we do at CRS every day.
Consider. If someone who had been incarcerated by their own country because of their ancestry, whose parents upon release were subject to arbitrary deportation proceedings, can be appointed by President Carter to serve on the Select Commission with Cruz Renosa, who was here earlier, to fight and champion there humane immigration policies, can work for redress as National Vice President of the JCL, with the Congressional leadership of former Congressman Norman Mineta, who has joined us here today, and who could be invited by President Reagan to the White House for the historic apology and the signing ceremony of the redress bill, and can work to memorialize this tragic episode in our Nation's history as a pro bono counsel for the Manzanar Committee, and experience a very, very happy, happy proud moment when the city turned over the land, accepted by then Deputy Secretary John Garamandi, to become a part of the National Park System, so that this will never happen again, and who can be tapped to become the Federal Government's race relations arm director, we have ever reason to be hopeful. And I want you to know, Takayo is very hopeful.
Thank you very much.
MR. HENDERSON: When the task is impossible, you call on Rose Ochi. There's a song that was written many years ago that's called "The Impossible Dream." We're going to be favored with that selection by Virginia Lum, an attorney in the Civil Division and also a graduate of the Julliard School of Music, where she has both her undergraduate and master's degree in music, and also an attorney in the Civil Division. Virginia Lum.
("The Impossible Dream" was played on piano.)
MR. HOLDER: Good afternoon. First of all, I'm delighted to join all of you for these ceremonies. We are here to do two very important things today: to formally install Rose as the Director of the Community Relations Service and also to publicly recognize excellence by CRS employees. I think it's about time that we do both.
Although the Director has headed CRS for more than 2 years, it never quite seemed that there was time available to hold a formal installation ceremony because Rose and her staff were busily focused on getting critical conciliation services to our Nation's communities when peaceful relations were threatened.
On this occasion and as we pause to celebrate, I want to thank all of you for your tireless dedication as the community peacemakers for the Department of Justice.
Now, I came to know, as Rose indicated, the good work of CRS when I was the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1989 I saw firsthand when the Mount Pleasant community exploded over a police shooting of a Latino immigrant, CRS deployed mediation teams to that area for more than 2 weeks, working in the streets day and night to help restore stability and order in a very tense and a very volatile situation.
Since my appointment as Deputy Attorney General, I have come to more fully appreciate CRS and the Director's leadership. Early in my tenure as Deputy, I soon discovered that CRS serves as an integral partner in carrying forth initiatives and departmental objectives. For such a small agency, and it is a small agency -- in fact, it's a too-small agency -- CRS seems to be everywhere.
In the recent past Rose has mobilized the CRS church burning response team to support the President's national church arson task force. The CBRT opened up lines of communication with law enforcement agencies that helped to heal instances of racial polarization. She was actively involved in planning the White House Hate Crimes Summit and under her leadership CRS played a pivotal role on the Attorney General's Hate Crime Working Group.
She spearheaded the development of a brand new hate crime curricula for law enforcement and making sure that the United States Attorney Advisory Committee on Hate Crimes was supported in every way.
Just as Rose Ochi is everywhere, so are the conciliators of CRS. The Department can count on CRS to be there, whether it be in Jasper, Texas, after the tragic death of James Burr, Junior, Harlem, New York, at the Million Youth March, St. Petersburg, Florida, during racial unrest, and countless other situations requiring the presence of the Department's racial conflict resolution professionals.
I am very, very pleased that we're all joining together to officially install Rose Ochi as the Director of the Community Relations Service, to acknowledge the invaluable work of her staff, and to recognize all of their outstanding achievements. Congratulations, Rose.
Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce the Honorable Janet Reno, the Attorney General of the United States.
GENERAL RENO: Thank you very much. But it's you, all of you, Rose, everybody who works so hard, who make such a difference for this country. I should be applauding you, and I do.
I am so proud of Rose and what she has been able to accomplish. She has fought so hard for CRS. I'll be sitting in my office at 10:00 o'clock on a Saturday morning and I get this call: Can I come see you? And she sits there and she alternately gets angry, and then she cries a little bit, and then she gets angry again about how CRS got cut. And she tries to figure out what she can do personally to restore every single dollar. And then when she can't do that, she still continues every day to her best to spread the message of CRS, what it can be to this Nation, what it is to this Nation, and she does such a wonderful, wonderful job.
But Rose, I have a different memory.
I remember I couldn't get a word in edgewise.
But I didn't have to, because I knew her record and I knew what she had accomplished and I knew. So I just let her keep talking.
We've rearranged this afternoon and we have just returned from the White House. Eric, Bill, Rose, and I were there as the President's Race Initiative Advisory Board presented their recommendations to the President after a year-long process of holding town meetings, consulting with experts, promoting racial dialogues, and doing a wonderful job to bring America together.
CRS and Rose Ochi were instrumental in this process, and it has been great for me along the way to have people say: Rose contributed so much, CRS has done so much to help us. And I want to thank you on behalf of the Board, the President, and the Justice Department for all that you've done to make this effort so successful.
You have heard how CRS is everywhere. I can assure you Rose is everywhere. And you have done so much. All of us have our experiences with CRS. I can still remember standing in a room in the Federal Building in Miami after one of our tense times, looking over and seeing a man who made an awful lot of sense, and it was Tom Battles, and Tom Battles has been making sense ever since then to me.
There are so many others. I see you. You all make such a wonderful difference. So thank you, everybody.
I have a dream for us all and I'd like to share it. CRS, Rose, each one of you who works so hard, have helped prove to me that we can change the culture of this Nation. We can change it from a Nation that sometimes takes violence for granted to a Nation that is no longer violent.
Some look at me and say: There she goes dreaming. But you all here today have proven to me that it's not a dream. We can teach every police officer who works on the streets in the communities to resolve conflict with a firm voice, with a problem-solving attitude, with respect, with a listening ear, with thoughtful communication. We can teach every teacher to teach children to resolve conflicts without knives and guns and fists. We can approach violence where it begins in the home and through our domestic violence programs, tell people that this does not have to be a fact of life in too many American homes, and that children do not have to see violence become a way of life.
We can teach our communities to live together by understanding each other. And we can do it by looking at each person as a person themselves, not as a number, not as a score, not as just a group of people, but each person as special.
CRS has taught me so much, but most of all you have taught me, and Rose, you have taught me, the art of dreaming and making the dream the possible. I think we can do it.
I stood at the American Bar Association House of Delegates meeting in Toronto recently and I thought about what we had been able to do through the legal system, what lawyers had been able to do. We can do it because you care enough. You understand that we can resolve conflict, we can bring down racial tensions, we can teach people how to appreciate each other. But we've got to start early and we can never give up.
This lady starts early. She never gives up. You do the same.
I'd like to pay special recognition to the awards recipients. You represent the best of a wonderful, wonderful agency. Rose said it was gutted. Was not. It's still strong. It's still a great agency, and you all deserve the everlasting gratitude of the people of this Nation. I salute you.
MS. OCHI: Thank you very much for your kind words.
Now we'll turn to the awards presentation. We'll begin with the organization awards that are selected by the peers. The first award is the Gil G. Pompa Leadership Award. May I call up Ozell Sutton.
Ozell is the Regional Director of the Southeast Region for almost 30 years, is CRS' institutional and inspirational leader for racial reconciliation in the Southeast. Under his leadership, CRS was ready to respond to the church arsons in our country. His insight and understanding helped set the mission for CRS efforts with the church arson task force.
The Milton D. Lewis Award, career recognition award for human relations service. Marty Walsh.
Marty is Regional Director of the New England Region, with more than 30 years of Federal service. He's a man who's respected by people of all backgrounds, helping hundreds of communities in his region, who has faced tensions over issues of race, ethnicity, and national origin. Marty, a giant among us.
We had the speeches last night.
The Fred Miller Award for exemplary conciliation service, Ernie Stallworth.
Ernie, with almost 20 years of Federal service, is a man for many worlds. He brings experience, sensitivity, diplomacy, and heart to CRS every day. Ernie is the type of mediator who serves as an example for mediators in hundreds of communities across the country. Ernie Stallworth.
This year we're inaugurating a new award, the Director's Awards for Excellence. These awards are supposed to be a surprise.
Jon Chace, with more than 28 years of both Federal and CRS service, has been a mainstay of the Community Relations Service both at headquarters and in field operations. The former Regional Director in Philadelphia, Jon was selected to serve as the Associate Director in 1996. A jack of all trades, he has served many long challenging weeks since moving to Washington.
Director's Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding dedication and steadfast support to the Director in advancing the CRS mission.
Efrain Martinez, Outstanding Conciliator. Began his Federal service in 1961. Efrain serves communities from CRS' one-person Houston office. He has risen to challenges time and time again. Efrain repeatedly brought skill, compassion, and diplomacy in the response by the Department of Justice and Community Relations Service to the tragedy in Jasper, Texas.
Director's Achievement Award in recognition of his exceptional abilities and outstanding achievements in advancing race relations, Efrain Martinez.
The last, Director's Achievement Award for Outstanding Regional Director, Jes Taylor.
Jes is the Regional Director of the Midwest Region, has over 30 years of Federal conciliation service. Along with steady and positive leadership in CRS, Jesse has mediated many notable agreements involving police community relations recently in Cincinnati, Ohio, Native American issues and local governments. What is terrific about Jesse, his work results in some real tangible changes in policies and practices.
In recognition of his outstanding leadership and exceptional achievements in advancing the Director's priorities and the CRS mission, Jesse Taylor, Director's Achievement Award.
Okay, let's give them all a hand.
MR. BATTLES: Attorney General Janet Reno, Congressman Julian Dixon, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, Associate Attorney General Raymond Fisher, Mrs. Ochi, Mr. Ochi, your family, other Department of Justice administrators and guests, CRS regional directors, headquarters staff, my colleagues in the field: Good afternoon.
On behalf of my colleagues in the field and all of CRS, I am proud and honored to have this opportunity to pay a special tribute to our Director. We are blessed to have a Director who is concerned about the field. We applaud her energy and her efforts to build a CRS prepared to meet the challenges of the twenty first century. You see, we believe in Rose Ochi.
Ozell often reminds us that when you believe in someone then you have no problem following her leadership. We believe in Rose Ochi. We believe in her priorities, to strengthen our field capability and with the capacity to respond to America's cry for help.
Yes, we are a team because of Rose Ochi. At CRS we are a small but mighty agency, and we are the best at what we do.
I think it was Churchill and perhaps Shakespeare who summed this up best when they said: "We few, we happy few, we band of happy, happy few. Those who stand with me now, those who shed their blood with me now, shall be my brother in the morning."
When the clouds of uncertainty hung low over CRS, the field staff dug in and continued to deliver a quality product to America. Our head was bloodied but unbowed.
With the help of the greatest Attorney General ever in my time --
-- and with the help of all of CRS' friends all across America, and under the leadership of Rose Ochi, the clouds of doubt and uncertainty are no more. CRS shall live on.
So, Mrs. Ochi, we say: Fly high, take your wings and soar with the eagles; and rest assured that those of us in the field shall forever be the winds beneath your wings. God bless you, Mrs. Ochi.
On behalf of all of CRS, we are proud to present this gift to Mrs. Ochi.
MS. OCHI: Thank you, Tom.
(Musical selection by Mr. Henderson and Ms. Lum.)
MS. OCHI: Thank you very much for coming. This concludes the program. Thank you.
(Applause and end at 5:19 p.m.)