U.S. Department of Justice
|CRS Mission Statement|
CRS, a unique component of the U.S. Department of Justice, works to resolve and prevent community conflicts and tensions arising from differences in race, color or national origin. CRS provides a wide range of race relations services, such as mediation, conciliation, technical programs, and training to local communities. CRS also uses and distributes effective resources, which include videos and publications, to assist local government, law enforcement, and community leaders in resolving racial conflict and promoting peace.
CRS deploys highly skilled, professional mediators with experience and cultural awareness to enable affected parties to develop and implement their own solutions. Its services are confidential, neutral, and free of charge, and are designed to serve as a catalyst for peaceful resolution.www.usdoj.gov/crs
Transmittal Letter to Congress|
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembleb
With this statement, I hereby transmit a report on the activities of the Community relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Department of Justice for Fiscal Year 2006. This report is required by Section 100 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-352), and by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1966, as revised by 28 C.F.R. 0.30(b).
This report describes CRS’ conflict resolution activities, so that Members of Congress may assess its performance in executing its statutory mandate.
|Table of Contents|
|Functions of the Service|
42 U.S.C. 2000g-1
“It shall be the function of the Service to provide assistance to communities and persons therein in resolving disputes, disagreements, or difficulties relating to the discriminatory practices based on race, color, or national origin which impair the rights of persons in such communities under the Constitution or laws of the United States or which affect or may affect interstate commerce. The Service may offer its services in cases of such disputes, disagreements, or difficulties whenever, in its judgment, peaceful relations among the citizens of the community involved are threatened thereby. Further, CRS may offer its services either upon its own motion or upon the request of an appropriate State or local official or other interested person.”
It is my honor to submit to the Congress of the United States of America the Department of Justice Community Relations Service (CRS) Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2006. The Community Relations Service responded to hundreds of conflicts based on race, color, or national origin in American communities in 2006. The city-wide SPIRIT, a new tool pioneered this year, brings together all local community stakeholders, residents of all colors, media, law enforcement, health and government officials to solve what are or may be perceived to be conflicts based on race, color and national origin.
In 2006, CRS continued to work with Federal, State, and local government agencies to develop new and effective strategies to fulfill the U.S. Department of Justice’s Strategic Goal 3.3 to uphold the rights of and improve services to victims of crime. New programs were designed to address developing community needs.
The work that CRS has done this fiscal year and in the past, and is committed to doing in the future, will continue to assist communities in addressing race, color, and national origin based conflicts as they occur. CRS works with communities to enhance their abilities to develop mechanisms, with their particular needs as first and foremost, such as Human Relations Commissions, Community/Police Advisory Boards, and other self-sustaining partnerships. The goal of the Service is to help communities prevent conflict from occurring, and build community capacity to manage conflicts should they occur in the future.
Ondray T. Harris
|Summary of Fiscal Year 2006 Highlights and Accomplishments|
In Fiscal Year 2006, CRS was called upon by Federal, State, and local community leaders, members, and government leadership to address a myriad of conflicts based on race, color, and national origin. These conflicts ranged from disparity of treatment allegations in local school systems, to issues pertaining to hate incidents and hate crimes. CRS worked with community members from diverse racial, ethnic, and national origin backgrounds, including, African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Somali American, Muslim American, Sikh American, and many other groups to address conflicts within communities. CRS facilitated dialogues, conducted mediations, and provided conciliation services. CRS provided training to police officers, U.S. and district attorneys, school administrators, Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration personnel, National Park Service personnel, and a variety of other parties throughout the country. CRS assisted local communities in building local capacity to enable them to effectively deal with conflict based on race, color, and national origin independently. Some of the major areas where CRS offered services in Fiscal Year 2006 were administration of justice and police-community relations; hate incidents; demonstrations, protests and special events; and racial tension in educational institutions.Administration of Justice & Police-Community Relations
In Fiscal Year 2006, CRS encountered a number of issues pertaining to administration of justice and police-community relations. Often the issues revolved around allegations of police excessive use of force. For instance, in Pueblo, Colorado, CRS worked with numerous community leaders and members, as well as the Pueblo Police Department, the Pueblo District Attorney, and the local Human Relations Commission to assist the community in handling allegations of excessive use of force by police against minority community members. CRS was able to bring the parties together, allowing them to discuss the allegations and to eliminate any misunderstandings between the groups.Hate Incidents
In Fiscal Year 2006, CRS assisted communities who had experienced or perceived to experience a hate crime related to race, color, or national origin, in addressing the tensions that the situation created. CRS worked with community leaders and members to address concerns prompted by hate incidents and to develop local capacity to properly address these types of incidents, should they occur in the future. In Queens, New York, CRS learned that a group of Chinese college students had been attacked in what was alleged to be a hate-motivated incident. In response to the tensions raised by these incidents, CRS met with government representatives and local community leaders from Queens to assist them in handling the incident. CRS also facilitated a community dialogue to address and resolve the community tensions. CRS’ efforts enabled the local leadership in Queens, New York, to address the underlying tensions that precipitated the incident and to prevent backlash incidents from occurring.Demonstrations, Protests & Special Events
CRS provided contingency planning support, onsite conciliation services, and a Federal presence at a large number of demonstrations, protests, and special events in Fiscal Year 2006.
CRS’ work assisting parties to conduct and self-marshal protests and demonstrations, directly resulted in many protests and rallies occurring peacefully, despite high tensions within the communities. For instance, in Orlando, Florida, CRS assisted the Orlando Police Department and the Florida Commission on Human Relations to plan for a scheduled National Socialist Movement march that was creating an increase in tension in the predominately African American community. A few days prior to the demonstration, CRS conducted training seminars for members of the local community to equip them to self-marshal the counter-demonstrations.
During the event, CRS worked with both the National Socialist Movement members and the counter-protestors to prevent violence from occurring. A crowd of approximately 250 counter-protestors marched alongside the National Socialist Movement demonstrators, but no violence occurred.Educational Institutions
CRS’ work with educational institutions remained a priority in Fiscal Year 2006. CRS works with secondary educational institutions, as well as colleges and universities to address conflict based on race, color, and national origin on campuses across the country. For instance, in Nashua, New Hampshire, CRS assisted students and faculty at a local high school that had experienced a number of conflicts based on race, color, and national origin since the beginning of the school year. CRS conducted two sessions of the Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) program at the high school, involving staff and students in resolving the tensions at the school. This effort decreased tensions within the school and throughout the local community.
Some of the major issues where CRS had an impact in Fiscal Year 2006 were administration of justice and police-community relations; hate incidents; demonstrations, protests and special events; and educational institutions.
|Community Relations Service|
Major Issues in CRS Casework Fiscal Year 2006
In Fiscal Year 2006, CRS provided conflict resolution services to communities across the country in 979 instances.
|Map of CRS Regional Office and Service Areas|
|Region 1: New England|
Serving CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT
In December 2005, the principal of Nashua High School in Nashua, New Hampshire contacted CRS seeking assistance in handling conflicts and tensions at the high school since the beginning of the school year. The reported conflicts were primarily between members of Hispanic, African American, and White student groups.
The causes of the conflict seemed to stem from tensions related to the growing diversity of the student body and the community at-large. Though there had not yet been any major issues, the principal believed something needed to be done to lessen tension; therefore, he contacted CRS for assistance.
Beginning in February 2006, CRS conducted an abbreviated faculty-based version of Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) program at the high school. Approximately 35 teachers attended the voluntary, after-school program that was designed to familiarize the faculty with SPIRIT program.
Subsequent to the faculty program, CRS conducted a two-day student-based SPIRIT program at Nashua High School. Approximately 100 students from each major demographic group — African American, Asian, Hispanic, and White — participated in the program, which is designed to assist parties in identifying issues that are creating conflict and develop viable solutions to those conflicts. The high school administration was pleased with the faculty and the student SPIRIT programs.
After the programs, the school administration moved quickly to implement certain student and faculty recommendations, including: (1) organizing the building to alleviate hallway traffic; (2) revising the curriculum to place more emphasis on minority contributions to American history; (3) bringing in minority “role models” to talk with students; and (4) involving students in faculty trainings and discussions. In addition, the administration created a 15-person SPIRIT student committee to follow up with other recommendations.
The school administration plans to capitalize on the momentum generated by the program, and they expressed a strong interest in hosting the program for another group of students at other city high schools. The high school administration has also begun to reach out to law enforcement, judicial, religious, and community leaders to participate in future activities and to build capacity within the community to address racial and ethnic conflict.
In the winter of 2005, a highly publicized incident occurred in Concord, New Hampshire in which a Muslim woman refused to allow a male emergency medical technician (EMT) to enter her home due to religious and cultural practices. This incident sparked reports that emergency response personnel were impeded in assisting African, South American, and Asian community members effectively in the Concord, New Hampshire community. The issues were reportedly occurring due to language barriers, as well as cultural and religious differences between emergency response personnel and community members.
In response to the community tensions created by these incidents, CRS facilitated a series of city-wide dialogues in Concord, New Hampshire, which were cosponsored by the city’s Mayor’s Task Force Against Racism in December 2005. The dialogues were designed to educate emergency personnel about cultural practices of newly developing immigrant and refugee communities. In early January 2006, CRS began a series of cultural diversity training programs for the Concord Fire Department. Firefighters, emergency personnel, and dispatchers attended the program, as well as individuals from other departments.
Four sessions were held in January 2006 to discuss specific issues that faced the emergency personnel and potential solutions. Following these sessions, panelists for the refugee community and the public emergency personnel agreed to new methods to resolve on-scene miscommunication and cultural misunderstandings through new methods. Since these dialogues transpired, emergency responders and community groups are better equipped to respond to the needs of all community members, regardless of racial, ethnic, or cultural background. In addition, the city’s refugee community has a better understanding of available fire and EMT services.
New England Region
In New England in early 2006, there were a number of incidents reported on college campuses involving racial, ethnic, and national origin issues. For example, Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, requested CRS’ assistance after college administrators expressed concerns regarding incidents associated with an increasing number of minority and international students on campus. These concerns resulted from reported racial incidents on campus in 2006, including racially and ethnically charged graffiti in a residence hall and allegations that the Bates College Campus Security engaged in bias-based policing. In addition, a Harvard University Hindu student alleged that she was assaulted and called racial slurs after leaving a dance sponsored by the Hindu Students Association.
In response to these area-wide tensions, CRS participated in a program hosted by Bates College in Lewiston, Maine on June 19, 2006. Approximately 25 campus security officials from a number of New England area colleges attended. The program covered contemporary issues that affect college campus security.
As part of the program, CRS conducted its Law Enforcement Mediation (LEM) seminar at the Bates College sponsored event. The LEM program introduces law enforcement to the mediation process and dispute resolution techniques that enforcers of the law can use when interacting with community members. CRS engaged participants in role-playing scenarios involving a hypothetical racial incident on a fictitious college campus to educate law enforcement about how alternative dispute resolution techniques can be helpful to enforcers of the law as they seek to assist communities across the country. The security officials came from a variety of backgrounds, not only professionally, but also economically and socially. CRS successfully enabled campus security officials to better respond to campus incidents involving race, color, and national origin.
In the fall of 2005, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognized that passengers from Arab, Muslim, and Sikh cultural backgrounds were experiencing tensions and difficulty proceeding through security checkpoints as some airport personnel did not understand traditional cultural practices of these travelers. As a result, the Director of the TSA at the Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, requested that CRS conduct an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar for TSA employees to assist them in interacting with members of these communities in non-emergency situations. These interactions have the potential to result in conflicts based on a lack of understanding of cultural and religious practices of Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs.
CRS conducted an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar for approximately 100 participants, including TSA personnel, Federal Air Marshal representatives, airline personnel, and members of the Connecticut State Police and local law enforcement. The training program was interactive and the feedback from the participants was very positive. This seminar resulted in increased ability for employees working at the Bradley International Airport to understand the cultural practices of Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Americans as they travel.
In July 2005, representatives from the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Nations in Maine requested that CRS facilitate dialogue between tribal members, tribal police, and their counterparts in local communities to resolve tensions between the groups related to allegations of disparity of treatment of Native Americans. The number of reported incidents of racial discrimination had risen within recent years and tribal community members felt that the need for resolution was great. Some of the reported incidents included allegations of discrimination and interference with non-Indian law enforcement officers who enforce the law on the reservation, as well as an incident where a Native American student was reportedly taunted with racial slurs during a sporting event at a local school. In response to these incidents and to requests from Native American community leaders, CRS facilitated a dialogue on October 25, 2005 for representatives of the tribal police, local police, and representatives of the two communities at the University of Maine at Machias to discuss the situation and possible solutions to the tensions.
The dialogues provided an opportunity for all parties to discuss their concerns and develop ways to improve relationships and communication between the Native American community and other local community members. At the end of the dialogues, participants had a better understanding of how to work together to resolve these current issues, as well as any future incidents that could arise.
According to media reports in the Sun Journal, a local Lewiston, ME newspaper, on the evening of July 4, 2006, a severed pig’s head was thrown into a men’s prayer session at a local mosque. This incident increased tension and apprehension for members of the local Somali-Muslim community. Law enforcement officials sought CRS assistance to calm tensions in the community.
CRS worked with representatives of the Lewiston Police Department and the Muslim community in July 2006 to help relieve tensions within the community. On July 12, 2006, a rally was held in downtown Lewiston to “Take a Stand Against Hatred.” CRS assisted the parties hosting the rally by providing onsite conciliation services and training participants to self-marshal the event. The governor of Maine and the mayor of Lewiston were among the speakers at the rally. Members of the Somali Muslim community attended, as well, and stated that they felt encouraged by the community’s support.
CRS also met with city officials, the chiefs of police from Lewiston and Auburn, and the county Sheri. on August 18, 2006, to continue to provide support. Muslim community representatives requested a better liaison process with police and city officials, and that the city provide educational programs to assist the Somali community members in understanding American laws and culture. City and law enforcement officials were receptive to addressing the concerns and they requested CRS assistance in moving forward.
|Region 2: Northeast|
Serving NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin IslandsIthaca, NY
On February 18, 2006, CRS learned through media reports of a stabbing incident that allegedly occurred on campus at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Reportedly, a White student was arrested for stabbing an African American student. Newspaper reports also indicated that the incident involved alleged racial epithets. The student body and the local African American community were troubled by the situation and requested a response from the university administration. The university administration contacted CRS for help. CRS offered several recommendations to address campus tensions including roundtable talks, a communication community bulletin, and an “Image Committee” developed and run by students whose aim is to improve the reputation of Cornell University.
Along with these recommendations, CRS helped implement
CRS also recommended that the administration encourage students to develop committees to address diversity issues at the school instead of relying solely on the administration to respond to campus concerns. CRS assisted in facilitating communication between students and the administration throughout CRS’ involvement at Cornell. CRS recommended that the administration request assistance from students who contributed to CRS’ assessment and ask for help in identifying students who could serve on the Image Committee.
CRS provided technical assistance to the
During the week of March 27, 2006, CRS learned that students
CRS assisted in facilitating two community forums in April
2006 to discuss race relations at
As a result of this meeting, students, who were concerned
about the racial tension at the high school, were invited to participate in a
student advisory board that assists the school in developing ways to address
these tensions. This student advisory
board improved communication between students and the school
administration. CRS also assisted the
parties in developing dialogue and action steps to address student concerns. CRS facilitated dialogue between the Village
On August 14, 2006, CRS learned of reports that a hate
incident occurred in
Some community members reported tension in the community surrounding the increasing number of Asian residents in the neighborhood and what many longtime residents viewed as over-development by Asian investors. Additionally, commercial signs in Korean or Chinese, with no English translation, have reportedly upset members of the community who feel that new Asian residents do not want to be a part of the larger community. The Asian community reportedly also felt that the alleged hate incident was a prelude to future incidents.
In response to the tensions raised by these incidents, CRS
met with government representatives from
On July 27, 2006, CRS learned through media reports that
there was tension in
CRS conducted a dialogue between the chief of police, the mayor and minority community leaders to address the allegations and the tension. One of the major concerns voiced by community leaders was the police complaint process. CRS assisted the parties in discussing this issue and provided pertinent information and materials about ways to improve the complaint process. The parties also discussed the alleged police misconduct and all parties were able to understand the situation more thoroughly at the conclusion of the dialogues.
The impact of the forum on the community was significant because the community groups were able to establish direct communication with the police and the mayor, communication that had not been possible previously. All parties understand that they must continue to work together to improve communication between the police and the community and are committed to doing so.
New York, NY
In March 2006, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education
Fund (SALDEF) requested that CRS become involved in addressing community racial
tensions caused by allegations of disparate treatment by the security police officers
of a Sikh family and colleagues, who were visiting the Statue of Liberty in
Allegedly, the security officers refused to allow a group of Sikh tourists to carry their kirpans with them to the Statue of Liberty. After they removed their kirpans in compliance with the officer’s request, the police officers allegedly subjected the tourists to rude, harassing, and hostile treatment. SALDEF asked CRS to assist the officers, the Sikh tourists, and the Sikh American community in effectively addressing these issues and the tensions the issues created. In response, CRS met with the National Park Service (NPS) director to discuss the allegations, the incident, and possible methods to address the tension and prevent future incidents. CRS suggested the CRS-developed Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar, which the NPS director thought would be helpful to NPS staff.
On June 6, 8, 13, and 15, 2006, CRS provided a series of
Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminars for the NPS Police and
security staff at the Statue of Liberty and
|Region 3: Mid-Atlantic|
Serving DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV
On July 28, 2006, CRS conducted two back-to-back sessions of, “Responding to Allegations of Racial Profiling: Building Trust between Police and the Community.” The purpose of the CRS program is to educate law enforcement and community members about racial profiling. Approximately 35 police and community trainers including the mayor, 2 police chiefs, trainers from the Harrisburg Police Department and representatives from the State Human Relations Commission office, and members of local Middle Eastern and Hispanic communities attended the training, which was very well received.
As a result of CRS dual training module, communications
between the participating chiefs, training officers, and attending community
and service representatives improved, and a commitment to continue mutual
dialogues toward strengthening police community partnerships has been reaffirmed
Over several months in 2006, residents in
In response to these incidents and at the request of the community groups and local officials, CRS assisted in facilitating a community meeting on June 6, 2006. The meeting was designed to assist in the development of local approaches to address racial tension. Following the meeting, CRS continued to provide technical assistance and resources to assist the local community in developing approaches to address and resolve the racial tensions and conflict that have erupted due to the hate incidents.
On November 15, 2005, CRS was requested by a local African American community group to address concerns in the African American community regarding the Leesburg, Virginia Police Department interactions with African Americans. African American community groups reported receiving complaints from some residents that the police were rude, used inappropriate language, and singled out African Americans for attention.
In response, CRS met with the chief of the Leesburg Police Department to discuss concerns about police-African American community relations. The chief wanted to engage in dialogue with the community leaders and to respond to all police service-related concerns. Following the meeting in November, CRS facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Loudoun County African American community group and the Leesburg Police Department. CRS assisted parties in identifying specific concerns and provided mediation services that resulted in the MOA. Since the signing of the MOA, the community groups and local law enforcement have been better able to communicate and address concerns based on race, color, and national origin.
On March 7, 2006, CRS was contacted by the
The faith-based community of
CRS coordinated with stakeholders in the community onsite on
the day of the events. The NPS Police
were able to structure the events to minimize contact between the KKK and
anti-KKK groups who attended the rally and counter-rally at
|Region 4: Southeast|
On January 6, 2006, news media widely reported that an African American teenager died at a Pensacola hospital from injuries he received from officers in a juvenile boot camp. It was reported that this was the third African American youth to die in a boot camp supervised by the State’s Department of Juvenile Justice in the last three years. Reportedly, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and some Florida lawmakers called for these juvenile boot camps to be closed. They also requested an independent investigation into potential civil rights violations by a Federal prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The parents of the deceased teenager filed their intention to sue Bay County and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The incident dramatically increased tension between the African American community and the State juvenile justice system.
A medical examiner initially ruled that the cause of death was related to sickle cell trait and not from any potential injuries the teenager may have received from the guards. However, after further investigation on the part of an African American community group, a second examination was conducted and it was concluded that the cause of death was in fact due to the injuries caused by the guards. Immediately after the second investigation became public, a protest march and rally occurred on April 21, 2006 in Tallahassee, Florida. To assist the parties hosting this march, CRS trained approximately 55 volunteer self-marshals and provided an onsite Federal presence at the march. The march itself was reportedly attended by thousands of protestors.
Boot camps in Florida were closed. A number of African American community groups and government officials called for a statewide investigation into the juvenile system in Florida. CRS hosted meetings between the African American community groups, local government officials, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to resolve the situation.Orlando, FL
CRS learned from media reports that the National Socialist Movement — a neo-Nazi organization — was planning a rally in downtown Orlando, Florida, to take place on February 25, 2006. It was estimated that there would be 35 neo-Nazis participating in the rally and approximately 150 counter-protestors. The neo-Nazi organization planned to march through the downtown Orlando area, which has a large African American population, prior to reaching the main site for the rally.
The communities located near the planned route were concerned about the scheduled rally and requested help from CRS to maintain the peace during the scheduled National Socialist event. In coordination with the police department, local churches initiated “Operation Cool It,” asking that community members avoid the downtown area during the event in order to deny the National Socialist Movement an audience and lower the potential for violence. Church leaders reportedly stated that if individuals from the community wished to be present during the event that they should serve as “peacekeepers” and work to quell any potential violent situations that might occur during the event. CRS trained community members who wished to serve as “peacemakers” to marshal the event and prevent violence from occurring. This model of training is based on numerous other CRS activities where community members were trained as self-marshals to monitor the activities and demonstrations.
CRS worked with the Orlando Police Department and the Florida Commission on Human Relations to plan for and execute the training sessions. CRS conducted the training seminars for members of the local community. Individuals who attended the meeting were provided t-shirts by the Orlando Police Department with the phrase “Operation Cool It” on the front of the shirt.
When the march began, CRS worked with both the National Socialist Movement members and the counter-protestors to prevent violence from occurring. A crowd of approximately 250 counter-protestors marched alongside the National Socialist Movement demonstrators. At the end of the march, the National Socialist Movement held a rally in front of the Federal courthouse in downtown Orlando. The police designated an area in front of the courthouse where counter-protestors could gather while the National Socialist Movement event was occurring.
The National Socialist Movement rally lasted approximately 20 minutes, at which point law enforcement escorted members of the National Socialist Movement to their cars. Due to the strategic planning, violence which may have resulted from the National Socialist Movement rally was averted.Tifton, GA
On October 5, 2005, CRS learned from media reports that six Hispanic immigrant farm workers had allegedly been murdered in Tifton, Georgia. The incident reportedly took place on September 30, 2005. The victims were allegedly shot and assaulted with an aluminum baseball bat while sleeping in their trailer park residence. Three African American suspects were reportedly arrested for these crimes. Media reports quoted local law enforcement who stated that this was not a hate incident, but rather a particularly brutal robbery, since Hispanic immigrants are often targeted for robberies as they are allegedly unable to access banking services and thought to carry large sums of money. Other media reports indicated there had allegedly been a considerable amount of racial tension caused by a significant number of migrant farm workers moving into historically African American areas in southern Georgia and allegedly taking jobs away from these communities.
In response to these reports, CRS worked with local religious leaders, African American community leaders, Hispanic community members, and other community members. Though all community members felt the incident was not a hate incident, they did indicate that the fear of retaliation was pervasive in both the African American and Hispanic communities. CRS also learned that there had been an additional homicide in Tifton, Georgia on October 5, 2005, when an Hispanic male allegedly shot and killed an African American bouncer outside an area nightclub, which further exacerbated racial tension, according to media reports.
To assist the community in addressing the tension that these incidents created, CRS facilitated a community dialogue that included Tifton City and Tift County officials, law enforcement, and community members. CRS worked with African American and Hispanic leaders in Tift and Colquitt Counties to help them work together in denouncing the alleged murders and working more closely in the future to improve dialogue between their communities. CRS provided training and a community dialogue about creating a “Goodwill Ambassador Program” in Tifton where the victims were reportedly killed. CRS also monitored and provided technical assistance onsite, including self-marshal training for a community march and prayer vigil held one year after the killings. The local Catholic church organized this event to honor the memories of the Hispanic victims who were killed on September 30, 2005.
CRS services included opening dialogue among the White, African American, and Hispanic communities in Tifton, Georgia, and assisting them in developing partnerships to prevent these types of conflicts in the future. CRS will continue to work with relevant parties in Tift and Colquitt Counties and with community groups to address their needs as they arise.Orlando, FL
CRS learned from numerous community groups that on April 9, 2006, a Sikh prisoner was scheduled to be transferred from a Federal prison in Ohio to a State prison in Florida. It was alleged that the Department of Corrections in Florida was going to require the prisoner to cut his hair and beard, which is against the Sikh religion. This incident created significant tensions with the Sikh community. Leaders within the community filed a petition to the Governor and the Florida Department of Corrections to permit the prisoner to keep his hair and beard uncut, or to send him to a State that would allow him to do so. Additionally, the Sikh community planned to hold a prayer vigil at the Florida State Capitol building to express their concern and demonstrate their opposition to the State system.
CRS worked with Sikh American community leaders, the Florida Department of Corrections, and Sikh attorneys in New York to discuss the option of allowing the prisoner to be transferred to a prison in another State. Florida agreed to transfer the Sikh prisoner to Vermont, where he would be permitted to keep his hair and to wear a head covering. Additionally, the parties agreed that the Sikh prisoner would be permitted to keep his hair and beard while he was in prison in Florida. Upon receiving this information, the Sikh organization decided to cancel the prayer vigil, since the objective of the prayer vigil was accomplished by having the Sikh prisoner transferred out of State.
|Region 5: Midwest|
On March 15, 2006, in Valparaiso, Indiana, a conflict erupted at a local high school when a 16-year-old African American student was reportedly harassed, spat on, and called a racial epithet by a White student during gym class. According to media reports, the event occurred less than a week after the African American student and her family moved to the area. In response to community-wide racial tensions created by this incident, CRS met with community leaders, school officials, and local law enforcement to assist the parties in resolving the conflict. CRS conducted mediation sessions between the parties, including representatives from the East Porter County School Corporation, the United for a Purpose (UFAP) community group, and the Race Relations Council of Northwest Indiana. The parties developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with particular measures to ease the racial tensions in the community.
The MOU included provisions for cultural diversity training for school staff, for clear definitions of school policies related to victims of racial harassment or hate incidents, and for the development of recruitment strategies targeted toward diversifying the school staff. In addition, the school will work with UFAP’s Rapid Response team if there is a racially motivated incident to resolve jointly any future conflicts. UFAP will also assist the school in developing an educational taskforce comprising community members and parents to assist with the coordination of response issues as needed. Members of the teaching staff will develop strategies to raise awareness of diversity issues and create a Diversity Award to be given to students or staff who promote diversity within the school system. In addition, UFAP will work with a local law school to explore the possibility of instituting a peer mediation program at the high school.Gary, IN
On February 10, 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Merrillville, Indiana branch and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department in Valparaiso, Indiana requested that CRS facilitate an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar for new police recruits from Porter, Lake, and LaPorte counties in Indiana. The Porter County Sheriff also requested that CRS provide training about hate incidents to assist his department in the event of a racial or ethnic conflict. Though no specific incidents had been reported, hate incidents and hate activity were reportedly occurring throughout the State and allegedly often went unreported. This led to law enforcement’s desire to build capacity to deal effectively with these hate incidents.
In an effort to build community capacity to handle hate incidents should they occur, CRS facilitated an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar at Indiana University’s Northwest Campus, and at the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Gary, IN on March 15, 2006. The Porter County Sheriff’s Department and the local FBI branch sponsored the seminars. CRS also led a Hate Crimes Awareness Seminar that included a discussion and dialogue about pertinent hate incident issues facing the department and a moderated question and answer period. Seminar attendees included approximately 30 new police recruits from Porter, Lake, and LaPorte counties, as well as other counties throughout Indiana. Other attendees included personnel from the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, who participated in the morning session of the training. CRS activities are part of efforts to build a partnership between CRS, the Sheriff of Porter County, and UFAP Law Enforcement Task Force.Chicago, IL
In March 2006, CRS learned that there were increased community tensions in Chicago, IL after violent conflicts erupted between African American and Hispanic students, security, and staff at a local high school. The local government had recently closed a local high school and a number of the students from the closed high school, which was predominantly African American, were transferred to another high school, which was predominantly Hispanic. As a result, violent incidents between students increased, gang activity increased, and a number of teachers and administrators were attacked. There was also one incident in which more than 40 students were involved in a schoolyard brawl.
To assist the school and the community in addressing the increased tensions within the school community, CRS conducted a “Dialogue on Race” for 35 school security officers from the Chicago Public School system and representatives from the Illinois State Attorney’s office on August 30, 2006. The CRS-facilitated dialogue addressed racial and ethnic stereotypes that can trigger conflict and helped participants identify potential triggering mechanisms, develop strategies to reduce conflict, and appropriate personal responses to racial and ethnic confrontations. School security personnel also shared experiences and reviewed best practices to reduce and resolve conflict.
CRS plans to continue to work with the community to build local capacity to address these incidents, should they occur again.Carey, OH
Every year approximately 10,000 Iraqi Chaldeans make a pilgrimage to Carey, OH for a religious observance in August. Over the past three years, tensions between the group and the Street Preachers, a local group of multi-ethnic clergy who protest the observance, have escalated significantly each year during the pilgrimage. In 2005, there was a physical confrontation between the groups when an African American clergyman was reportedly attacked by members of the Chaldean pilgrimage who allegedly uttered racial and ethnic slurs during the attack.
In preparation for the 2006 pilgrimage, CRS convened a meeting between local religious leaders, local law enforcement, city officials, local government legal counsel, and the Street Preachers organization. CRS assisted the parties in developing a contingency plan for the pilgrimage. This contingency plan included the use of physical barriers to designate areas for each side. These barriers would ensure that no violence occurred between the parties. This plan also called for demonstration leaders to be distinctively dressed to enable leaders to be easily identified and readily available to assist parties should there be an issue during the pilgrimage and simultaneous protest. Additionally, the plan would provide an opportunity for the recognition of potential problems by using local leaders to serve as marshals for the event. CRS also provided self-marshal training to those who worked as marshals to run the event to reduce the likelihood for confrontations and disruption.
CRS was onsite on August 14, 2006 to assist in marshalling the event and ensuring that it was peaceful. CRS also assisted in conciliation efforts when a group of young Chaldeans expressed the intent to engage in a physical confrontation with the Street Preachers. CRS was instrumental in persuading the Street Preachers to listen to the marshals who were urging restraint and calmness. The event concluded without incident.Cincinnati, OH
In December 2005, CRS learned through media reports that a mosque in Deerfield Township, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, was damaged by two pipe bombs that had been placed near the mosque complex. Throughout the spring of 2006, CRS worked with law enforcement officials, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and community leaders within the Deerfield Township community to plan and execute a CRS Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar in Deerfield Township, Ohio.
As a result of these plans, on June 28, 2006, CRS, in conjunction with the Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, convened an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar in Southern Ohio. Participants included local, State, and Federal law enforcement officials, first responders, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District who was also the keynote speaker. The session addressed common misperceptions regarding the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh cultures; the historical and social structure of the cultures, mores, and best practices that should be observed when dealing with these groups in non-emergency situations.
As a result of CRS’ work within the community, tensions were significantly reduced and law enforcement and first responders developed a better understanding of the communities they serve. The seminars also promoted understanding between the groups, so that they will have better lines of communication should they need to respond to events like this in the future or prevent a similar event from occurring.Brooklyn, MN
On March 23, 2006, CRS learned that there was increasing racial tension in Brooklyn, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. Tensions were rising as a result of allegations that the primarily White police department engaged in racial profiling of members of Somali, Hispanic, and African American communities. The area had recently seen an influx of residents from these communities. These new community members alleged that the police stop them at an inordinately high rate and arrest them without provocation because they are minorities. CRS learned that the police department and the police chief wanted to take pro-active measures to reduce the racial and ethnic tension within their community.
On May 23, 2006, CRS hosted a dialogue on race between the Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park Police Department and representatives from the Community Advisory Team, including members of the African American, Kenyan, Liberian, Somali, Hispanic, Asian, and White communities. The CRS-facilitated discussion covered issues related to racial perceptions among the groups. The police were able to explain police procedures and policies and minority residents expressed their concerns related to police actions. As a result of the discussions, the police established a citizen’s ride-along program in an effort to increase community awareness of police procedures. The group will also continue to hold dialogues in other areas of the community to increase citizens’ awareness of police procedures and to build a working relationship between the police department and the surrounding community. The police department also agreed to review engagement and disengagement strategies which might have created racial/ethnic tensions among the groups and to establish new procedures to strengthen police-community relations. The group agreed to work together in the future to identify potential concerns before they become community-wide incidents and to continue to meet on a regular basis.Woodhaven, MI
On December 12, 2005, in response to reports of increasing racial and ethnic tensions at a Woodhaven, Michigan middle school, CRS conducted an Assessment of Tension Breeding Factors (ATBF) survey at the school, to determine what, if any, racial issues were present. School officials felt that there was increasing racial discord among African American, Arab American, Hispanic, and White students. Some thought that the racial tension was a result of demographic changes in the upscale Woodhaven community. It was also alleged that racial graffiti had been found at the school and that two allegedly race-based fights occurred in 2005. Eighty administrative and teaching staff and 20 transportation drivers at the local middle school took part in the assessment facilitated by CRS. The assessment results identified lack of training, parental support, and lack of culturally sensitive curriculum materials as items that needed to be improved at the school.
In addition to conducting the ATBF survey, CRS facilitated a SPIRIT Program at the middle school on March 23, 2006. Approximately 50 students from five different racial and ethnic backgrounds participated in the SPIRIT program and assisted the school in forming a student advisory committee. The school principal told CRS that the student advisory group actively began to implement the recommendations from the SPIRIT program.McFarland, WI
In January 2006, CRS conducted an ATBF at an area high school in McFarland, Wisconsin at the request of local school administrators. It was reported that racial tensions had increased at the high school as a result of recent demographic changes within the community. It was reported that there were more students of color attending the high school, and that some racial incidents had occurred as well. School administrators wanted to address apparent racial tension before it became a wider issue.
Approximately 50 school administrators, teachers, and staff participated in the Assessment of Tension Breeding Factors (ATBF) program to identify factors that could potentially lead to increased racial tensions, or to race-based incidents at the school. The school staff members identified key problems that they thought needed to be addressed, to equip them to improve race and ethnic relations with students, parents, and the larger community. As part of the ATBF, the staff also provided recommendations to solve the problems they identified. School staff and administrators recommended increased diversity among teachers; cultural competency training for teachers; better and more responsive cultural awareness programs for students; culturally sensitive curriculum development; and formation of a group of teachers, parents, students, and administrators to address race relations at the school.
In addition to conducting the ATBF, CRS conducted a SPIRIT program at the high school on April 20 and 21, 2006. CRS collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Pupil Non-Discrimination Division staff, to conduct the SPIRIT program. More than 60 students participated in the program from the four predominate racial and ethnic groups within the school. The two-day SPIRIT exercise received many compliments for the student participants, administrators, CRS partners, and staff. The local school principal implemented a teacher, student, and community working group to address diversity as a result of CRS activity within the community.Pulaski, WI
In January 2006, CBS News reported that an African American student assaulted a White student from a local high school in Pulaski, Wisconsin after the White student allegedly used racial epithets to harass the African American student. According to media reports, the African American student was suspended and recommended for expulsion, and Green Bay Police recommended that the African American student be charged with battery. Media also reported that the African American student said that the White student frequently used racial epithets to antagonize him. Members of the community were reportedly upset over the disciplinary actions taken toward the African American student. In response to the tension this situation created within the community, CRS conducted an onsite assessment of community racial tension on February 23, 2006.
On March 10, 2006, CRS conducted an ATBF exercise at the high school. The high school administration requested CRS assistance to develop a plan for teachers, school administrators, and staff to address racial tension at the school. The ATBF exercise conducted in response to this request included 90 teachers and school staff who participated over a 4-hour period. Teachers identified an extensive list of concerns and made recommendations to improve race relations at the high school. The school administrators formed a task force of teachers, parents, community members, and students to implement recommendations that they will jointly agree to implement to improve race and cultural relations in Pulaski.
On June 27, 2006, CRS conducted a follow-up meeting with the superintendent and staff of the high school in Pulaski, Wisconsin. CRS and the superintendent are working together to develop a diversity advisory council and community support in the Pulaski, and greater Green Bay, Wisconsin area to promote diversity initiatives in the school district at large. CRS, in conjunction with area leadership, may conduct programs in the Pulaski area in the future to develop local mechanisms to address racial and ethnic tensions, should they occur.Madison, WI
On July 17, 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Minneapolis-based National Socialist Movement received a permit to hold a demonstration at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, on August 26, 2006. The demonstration rally was allegedly being held to denounce illegal immigration and the U.S. “open borders policy.” The demonstration in Madison was expected to draw approximately 100 of the group’s members from across the nation.
On July 20, 2006, CRS met with the Wisconsin Capitol Police, the Dane County Sheriff, the FBI’s Madison Branch and the Madison Police Department to discuss assistance for the upcoming National Socialist Party demonstration. CRS provided technical and event marshalling assistance to the planning group in preparation for the rally. CRS discussed and provided demonstration models and lessons learned from hate group demonstrations where CRS had provided prior assistance. CRS made several suggestions including establishing or coordinating rumor control, a command center, transportation, emergency services, marshal plans, conducting a security walk through, crowd control measures for counter-demonstrators, and a resolution statement for the press.
On August 26, 2006, CRS provided technical assistance to the Wisconsin Capitol Police, Wisconsin State Troopers, Dane County Sheriff, and the City of Madison during the actual National Socialist Party rally. CRS attended all law enforcement briefings before the event began to provide assistance to those monitoring the rally. CRS met with counter-demonstration leaders prior to the event and discussed marshal plans and safety concerns. CRS also assisted in maintaining communications and planning discussions at the command post for the event. Approximately 1,000 counter-demonstrators assembled at opposing fences and barricades to protest the Nazi group. Approximately 360 law enforcement officials provided public safety at the two-hour event.
Sixty-four members of the National Socialist Movement stood at the top of the Capitol steps at State Street, separated from counter-demonstrators by a ring of mounted police and State troopers in riot gear and a double row of fencing. This separation was part of the event plan presented by CRS. During the rally, the White supremacists’ speeches were punctuated by calls of “Sieg Heil” and the Hitler salute, raising a response of “boos” and protest chants from counter-demonstrators. Counter-demonstration protest groups involved included, Neo Nazis in Madison, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Anti-Racist Action, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Five arrests were reported.
|Region 6: Southwest|
In June 2006, CRS learned of an alleged deadly use of force incident in Farmington, New Mexico. Reportedly law enforcement officials shot and killed a Native American man in a public parking lot. Law enforcement was allegedly called to the scene in response to a domestic dispute. According to police reports, the man failed to comply with officers, seized a baton, and lunged at the officers who then fired four shots, killing the man in front of several witnesses.
Shortly after the incident, CRS met with the mayor of Farmington, the city manager, assistant city manager, and police chief. CRS learned that the mayor and city manger had received a number of inquiries from the Native American community indicating concern regarding the relationship between the Native American community and the Farmington community at large. Two other incidents had recently occurred between the Native American community and local law enforcement, and the three incidents combined to create a tense relationship between the Native American community and local law enforcement.
CRS worked in coordination with the local law enforcement, Native American community leaders, and with a local Native American group, called the Farmington Inter-Tribal Indian Organization, to reduce community tension related to the police-community events. CRS provided the groups with technical assistance in meetings between the leadership of the Navajo Nations and the Farmington city manager, which helped them to reduce the escalating tension. To further assist the groups, CRS provided contingency planning assistance to the police department in preparation for a march and rally conducted by the Native American community to protest the shootings. CRS also helped the Native American community groups organizing the protest march, which attracted over 1,000 participants. The march occurred without incident and as a result of CRS assistance, the Native American community and the law enforcement in Farmington have opened lines of communication.Dallas, TX
In March 2006, CRS learned that the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) national office was sponsoring a Mega March and Rally in support of a Federal Immigration reform bill. The march and rally were scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 9, 2006 in Dallas, Texas. The number of participants was anticipated to be between 50,000 to 100,000. This event was also expected to create significant tension within the local Dallas community and to attract national attention.
To assist the parties in hosting the event in a non-violent and safe manner, CRS conducted contingency planning activities involving the Dallas Police and Sheriff’s Departments, LULAC national and local officials, and a host of supporting civic organizations. CRS helped the parties develop guidelines for the march, helped the parties obtain the appropriate permits, and coordinated the relationship between the Hispanic community and local law enforcement. Two days before the march, CRS trained more than 200 volunteer self-policing marshals. On the day of the march, CRS trained an additional 100 self-marshals.
It was reported by the Dallas police chief at a press conference that close to 500,000 people participated in the march and that there were no arrests. He credited the volunteer marshals for the success of the march and rally, giving CRS special recognition. Even though there were at least two occasions that could have resulted in physical confrontation between marchers and counter-demonstrators, the self-marshals were very effective in ensuring a peaceful event.Tulsa, OK
In October 2005, CRS received a request to conduct a racial relations dialogue in Tulsa, Oklahoma from community members who alleged that the Tulsa School District was not receptive to the needs of African American parents and students. The community group felt that the school district needed to better understand the historical situation of African American students in the local schools to enable them to address the current needs of the students. An increase in communication between the local African American community and the Tulsa School District was needed.
The African American community informed CRS that they felt that the Tulsa school district would not be able to resolve successfully their concerns unless a historical perspective had been discussed and addressed through a frank discussion about race relations in Tulsa. The community also felt that the historical perspective is important because it provides a greater level of understanding to past issues that have a direct bearing on the current conflicts. To respond to these concerns, CRS conducted a series of race relations dialogues to address issues based on race, color, and national origin that have historically affected Tulsa residents and continue to create community tension.
The CRS-facilitated race relations dialogue involved a diverse group of Tulsa parents, school district administrators, clergy, and community leaders from various school districts. The group involved in the dialogues reviewed and approved the report from the first session and requested that the information they discussed be included in the Tulsa Public School District’s Strategic plan to enable future school administrations to understand better the issues facing the African American community in Tulsa in the future.
Through the race relations dialogues, CRS facilitated discussion about perceived racial inequalities in Tulsa. CRS assisted the parties in identifying issues and generating action steps to address their concerns. Through the facilitation process and with the use of established ground rules, CRS assisted the parties by creating a safe environment for frank discussion. At the end of the dialogues, CRS had enabled the African American community in Tulsa to communicate effectively their concerns to the Tulsa public school administration and worked with the school to help develop viable, mutual solutions to resolve the tensions that had affected the community.New Orleans, LA
In early 2006, in response to reports of numerous incidents of excessive use of force between the police and African American community members, CRS began working with the New Orleans Chief of Police and the New Orleans Human Relations Commission (HRC) to address community tension. The new organization, called the New Orleans Police Community Relations Board (PCRB), is designed to enable the New Orleans Police Department to respond to community anger pertaining to the recent incidents of excessive use of force and to improve police-community relations with minority residents.
On March 20, 2006, CRS conducted a mediation session between the New Orleans Police Chief, the Director of the Human Relations Commission, and community members who were nominated to participate with the New Orleans Police Community Relations Board. CRS worked with the parties to develop the specifics needed to establish a community relations board, including a declaration of purpose for the board, the type of cases that the board will review, the composition of the board members and the length of their appointment, mandatory training requirements for board members, and other provisions necessary to build a viable and fully functioning board.
As a result of CRS’ work, the PCRB of New Orleans is an effective tool for the police and the community to work jointly in resolving any further tensions related to race, color, and national origin issues.New Orleans, LA
In March 2006, CRS learned that the Rainbow Push Coalition was planning a march and rally scheduled for April 1, 2006 in New Orleans, Louisiana to protest the municipal elections scheduled for April 22, 2006, and to promote the rights of minorities to return and rebuild in the New Orleans area. The Rainbow Push Coalition alleged that the elections were taking place illegally. Protesters alleged that citizens of New Orleans were being disenfranchised, deprived of their right to vote in the upcoming election, and that the minority vote was diluted because residents were displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In response to these reports and allegations, on March 22, 2006, CRS provided onsite conflict resolution services and technical assistance in the form of contingency planning for the march and rally in New Orleans, Louisiana. CRS met with New Orleans Police Department officials, Human Relations Commission representatives, Rainbow Push staff members, and Crescent City Connection Police to ensure that Rainbow Push organizers were aware of logistical details and requirements from all parishes affected by the march.
On March 28, 2006, CRS facilitated dialogue between Rainbow Push rally organizers and the police departments of New Orleans, Gretna, Crescent City Connection, Jefferson Parish, Convention Center, State police, emergency services, and Oakwood Mall Management officials. CRS provided technical assistance and contingency planning measures leading up to the event and was onsite to monitor the protest on April 1, 2006. CRS team members walked the entire march route to ensure that violence did not erupt between the protestors and potential counter-demonstrators.
CRS’ mediation and conciliation services directly contributed to a peaceful and non-violent march. In addition, CRS conducted shuttle diplomacy between law enforcement and protest leaders in an effort to calm heightened frustrations and tensions related to the rally over the course of the preparation for the rally and march, and throughout the event itself. There were no arrests made and the march was a peaceful event.
|Region 7: Central|
On January 29, 2006, news media reported that a 33 year-old Black man was punched and kicked following a police chase that began in St. Louis County and ended in St. Louis City, Missouri. Live television showed much of the chase and the beating of the suspect. The police reportedly began chasing the African American man when it appeared that he was driving and acting suspiciously. This incident created a large amount of tension within the St. Louis community. In addition, many community groups reportedly called for independent investigations into the government and police agencies involved.
In response to these tensions, CRS held meetings with city officials and members of minority groups to mediate the conflict. The series of meetings led to the development of an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). On March 2, 2006, CRS convened a joint meeting between the mayor, city manager, chief of police, and community members, including representatives from the St. Louis County NAACP, the St. Louis Clergy Coalition, and the Urban League of Greater St. Louis. At the meeting, the parties reviewed the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlined steps addressing issues surrounding police chases and other issues pertaining to community relations, including the multi-jurisdictional hot pursuit policy, standard operating procedures for arrest and suspect control, diversity recruitment and promotion, and media relations.
The signing of the MOU offered the community numerous ways to improve the relationship between the minority community and the city of Maplewood, Missouri. Intervention by CRS averted numerous protests and demonstrations that were planned as a result of the pursuit and use of force incident and assisted the parties in developing agreements that will help prevent future conflicts of this nature.Festus, MO
On January 20, 2006, CRS learned of reports that a racial incident occurred in the Festus, Missouri school district. Festus, Missouri is a small rural community located approximately 30 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri. The school reportedly has approximately 950 students enrolled, with an African American population of approximately five percent. Reportedly, on December 30, 2005, problems surfaced on the basketball court and in the stands during and after the game between Festus and Farmington High Schools. There were reportedly allegations of racial slurs and verbal harassment between Black and White students that caused a hostile and volatile situation.
To assist the school system in addressing the tensions raised by these issues, CRS convened mediation sessions between Festus, Missouri R-6 School District and the Concerned Parents and Citizens of Jefferson County Missouri. On May 19, 2006, CRS witnessed the signing of an MOU between these groups. The MOU addressed issues within the Festus, Missouri community that had created tension based on race, color, and national origin. As a result of the CRS-facilitated meetings, tensions within the community significantly decreased and the parties were able to build partnerships and mechanisms that will assist them in addressing these tensions should they occur in the future.Lincoln, NE
In August 2005, Lincoln, Nebraska experienced an increased number of hate incidents directed at the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh population in the area. To respond to the tensions created by these hate incidents, CRS planned and conducted an Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Cultural Awareness Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska. CRS coordinated the event with Lincoln’s chief of police, local and State law enforcement agencies, and local community groups. The local and State law enforcement officials recognized a need for more information and further education about the Arab, Muslim, and Sikh populations that they serve and recognized CRS’ program as a means of educating their officers to enable them to better serve and protect the populations in their community.
Participants at the event included members of the Lincoln Police Department, University of Nebraska Police, Nebraska Highway Patrol, various Federal agencies, and the United States Attorney for Nebraska. There were approximately 60 participants in attendance at the event. Many expressed an increased competency in dealing with Arab, Muslim, and Sikh community members as a direct result of the CRS facilitated forum.
|Region 8: Rocky Mountain|
Beginning on August 1, 2006, CRS was onsite in Sturgis, South Dakota to provide technical assistance and contingency planning for a demonstration to be held by members of the Native American community on August 4, 2006. The protest was to be held in response to the development of the upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally adjacent to Bear Butte, a sacred Native American site. In response to the proposed development, Native American groups organized the Bear Butte International Alliance to resist further development and to seek a 5-mile buffer between Bear Butte and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally events. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is an annual event that involves upwards of 500,000 motorcyclists and vendors who descend upon Sturgis, SD annually in August. CRS met with Native American leaders, law enforcement, and Federal officials to facilitate communication and provide contingency planning and conciliation in an effort to ensure a safe event. The protest and subsequent march, monitored by CRS, was attended by 200–300 people and occurred without incident.
Additionally, when the Native American community learned that the Secretary of the Interior was to be present for a commemoration of motorcycle stamps on August 7, 2006, several of the marchers reported that they intended to march on August 5. However, the protest was later canceled. CRS organized a meeting between the Secretary and six tribal elders prior to the start of the rally, which resolved the immediate conflict.Pueblo, CO
In the fall of 2005, CRS learned of a number of alleged police excessive use of force incidents involving the Pueblo Police Department and local minority community members. CRS facilitated a community dialogue on November 16, 2005 in Pueblo, Colorado in response to the tensions created within the community related to these incidents. Approximately 125 people attended the community dialogue. Many of the community members who attended requested that the police department establish a Citizen’s Review Board.
Additionally, the Pueblo Human Relations Commission requested that CRS convene a mediation effort between local stakeholders, including the local Human Relations Commission (HRC), NAACP, the Latino Chamber of Commerce, LULAC, Pueblo Crime Stoppers, the Arc of Pueblo, the Pueblo Public Defenders Office, the Pueblo Chief of Police, and the Pueblo District Attorney. CRS met with the parties during the ensuing months and an agreement was signed on March 21, 2006, which called for greater accessibility to the police policy manual, a revised Citizen Complaint process, representation from the police chief and the district attorney at monthly HRC meetings, and cultural competency training for the Pueblo Police Department, among other items. The agreement was endorsed by the HRC and presented formally to the Pueblo City Council on August 14, 2006.
As a result of these agreements and meetings, the conflict and community tension relating to the alleged lack of police accountability has greatly diminished in Pueblo, Colorado.
|Bear Butte, SD is a sacred site to many Native Americans. In August 2006, CRS provided onsite support to mediate tensions between native American groups and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that typically draws upwards of 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and events to the town very near the Native American sacred site.|
In early 2006, CRS learned of a number of racial incidents that increased community racial tensions in Fargo, North Dakota. The incidents reportedly included the alleged racially motivated assault of a Somali immigrant and the defacing of a local synagogue with swastikas. Additionally, it was reported that there was an influx of new immigrants to the Fargo, North Dakota community and a corresponding increase in the number of hate incidents. CRS developed a program to provide hate incident training to law enforcement officers and officials, and community members in Fargo, North Dakota. The local HRC and other city leaders were seeking effective ways to respond to community racial tension and hate incidents.
To address the conflict and the associated tensions, CRS conducted a hate incident training seminar for approximately 60 police officers and other community leaders on April 28, 2006. The hate incident training seminar is designed to educate law enforcement and community members simultaneously so that all parties know the most effective ways to respond to hate incidents in their communities and to develop mechanisms to prevent these incidents from occurring in the future. In addition to facilitating the hate incidents seminar, CRS also met with representatives from the HRC to discuss how they can best respond to these situations in the future and how they can gain greater utility from the training materials provided by CRS.
As a result of CRS’ work in Fargo, North Dakota, community racial tension was largely decreased and community members and law enforcement were better equipped to respond to incidents, should they occur in the future.West Valley, UT
In November 2005, CRS learned of escalating tensions in West Valley, Utah over what was perceived as interracial youth conflict between community members from Asian Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and Tongan backgrounds. CRS spoke with public officials and community-based organization representatives who indicated their concerns about youth conflicts that are sometimes believed to be interracial and/or gang related. It was alleged that these issues also developed into conflicts between the police and youth of color because local police were allegedly unfairly labeling the youth as gang members and targeting them based on their race, culture, or national origin.
On March 23, May 18, and August 17, 2006, CRS convened a number of community dialogues. These dialogues assisted the community and the police department in identifying five priority areas, to be addressed, to result in a decrease in interracial conflict, and perceived differences in treatment based upon race. The five priority areas were: (1) curtail dropout rate, (2) improve participation among elected and appointed city officials, (3) hold law enforcement accountable for long-term strategic planning, (4) further educate the police and community on racial issues, and (5) improve the judicial process. As a result of these community dialogues and the subsequent agreements, racial tensions and conflicts between the local law enforcement and minority community leaders has been greatly reduced.Park City, UT
On October 21, 2005, CRS learned of a conflict between local Hispanic community leaders and the Park City, Utah Police Department. According to media reports, the Park City Police Department issued a list of “Ten Most Wanted” criminals that was comprised entirely of Hispanics. A Hispanic community group believed the police department was unfairly targeting Hispanics and that the “Ten Most Wanted” list had the potential to negatively affect the local Hispanic community.
In December 2006, CRS convened a mediation session between the Park City Police Department, the Hispanic community groups, and leaders. The mediation resulted in an agreement in six areas, including the mutual development of criteria for creation of the “Ten Most Wanted” list. The mediation sessions also increased communication between the Hispanic community and the local police department. The parties established problem-solving communication and began collaboration and implementation of the agreement before a final draft was completed and signed. The police made a commitment to the Hispanic community to fulfill the commitments made in the mediation sessions. In addition, the Hispanic community group also agreed to honor their commitments. As a result of these mediation sessions, the Hispanic community and local law enforcement have developed a more effective working relationship which will benefit them in the future.Cortez, CO
In late 2005, CRS learned of a conflict between the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the Cortez Police Department, and the Montezuma-Cortez School District over the treatment of Native American students in Cortez, Colorado. CRS learned of concern within the Native American community that there was a need for a clear process on how intoxicated Native American youth are dealt with and the supportive services available to them. In addition, the high number of Native American students who placed in special education raised further concerns and allegations of disparate treatment of Native American students by the school. Native American community members alleged that the local school district had an established Native American Task Force and Communications Support Committee that had not dealt with the concerns of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the local Native American community.
In response to these concerns and the tension created within the community, CRS worked with the parties to conduct a mediation session in January 2006 to assist the parties in coming to a better understanding of each other’s concerns. As part of the resolution process, the parties established a committee to better define the school disciplinary and supportive services referral process, establish concurrent jurisdiction, and provide a public education program designed to inform parents about the process of making special educational referrals.
As a result of CRS’ mediation efforts, the parties established a working relationship. The parties are continuing to implement the mutually agreed upon solutions to enable them to address the past tensions and any future tensions, should they occur.Aurora, CO
CRS learned from media reports that, as a result of numerous police-related incidents involving the fatal use of force over the past few years in Aurora, Colorado, the Aurora City Council had approved a police/community Incident Review Board. The first case to be reviewed by the board was to be the death of Jamaal Bonner, an unarmed African American man who was reportedly shot three times in the back by Aurora police during a prostitution sting on December 3, 2003. However, the Aurora City Council did not allow the new board to review the case. This generated a public protest from the African American community, the local community of faith, and the Key Community Response Team, who alleged that the city broke its promise and commitment. These parties perceived the City Council’s action as an example of bad faith towards the African American community.
In response to these community tensions, CRS facilitated a number of meetings between the parties to enable each group to voice its concerns. As a result of the meetings, the police chief agreed to allow an independent review of the Bonner matter and report on it to the community group leaders. On September 5, 2006, the findings of the investigation were first released to a meeting of the Key Community Response Team, Human Relations Commission, NAACP, Ministry of Faith, and the District Attorneys from Arapahoe and Adams County. Afterwards, the report from the investigation was released to the public. The meetings provided the basis for the development of ongoing trust and confidence between the police and community.Pueblo, CO
In September 2006, CRS responded to a request for assistance from the City of Pueblo Human Relations Commission (PHRC) to prepare for the Pueblo Columbus Day Celebration and potential counter-demonstrations scheduled to take place on October 9, 2006. The annual event had the potential to erupt into violence, as there were counter-protests planned by Native American groups who objected to the celebration of a day in honor of Columbus. The group’s web site stated as follows: “the time has come for all Americans to stand up against the Columbus atrocities toward the Indian Nations he came in contact with.”
In anticipation of the event, CRS provided self-marshal training to the Pueblo commissioners and other volunteers on September 15, 2006. The self-marshal training assisted the Human Relations Commissioners of Pueblo, Colorado in providing conflict resolution services and reducing racial tension onsite on the day of the parade. Eleven commissioners and community members, who found the training helpful through its presentation of good marshaling techniques and conflict resolution information, attended CRS training seminar. Through these efforts, CRS was instrumental in assisting the PHRC in Pueblo, Colorado toward building local capacity to handle racial and ethnic conflict independently should such future issues occur. The October 9, 2006 event occurred without incident due in part to the efforts of CRS-trained self-marshals.
In addition to providing the self-marshal training specifically for the Columbus Day Parade, CRS has provided on-going technical assistance to the PHRC since April 2006 to train newly appointed members of the local PHRC.
|Region 9: Western|
On April 7, 2006, CRS was contacted by both parties involved in a school desegregation case in Page, AZ to inquire about mediation and the kind of services CRS offers. Attorneys on behalf of Page Unified School District and attorneys on behalf of the Navajo Nation were developing a list of potential mediators. The Navajo Nation had filed suit in Federal Court alleging segregation in two Page Unified School District elementary schools. The School District filed a motion to mediate, and the judge asked that both parties in the case seek mediation instead of litigation.
In order to assist the parties in developing a viable mutual agreement to resolve the issue, CRS hosted mediation sessions throughout 2006, during which the parties discussed a variety of issues pertaining to the Page Unified elementary schools. Both parties view parental involvement as the key to the success of Navajo students. The goals of the mediation sessions were: to create a partnership between the school district and Navajo parents and to create a climate in which Navajo parents feel comfortable approaching school district officials. The parties developed solutions to enhance culturally appropriate outreach and implement changes within the school district to provide a more welcoming environment for Navajo parents.
Due to CRS’ work with the parties, they developed a viable, mutual understanding that was memorialized in a written agreement and signed by the parties that addressed the concerns of the Navajo parents, and provided appropriate solutions within the Page Unified School District. This mediation effort enabled the parties to come to agreement and avoid a costly, and likely lengthy, litigation process.Los Angeles, CA
In April 2006, CRS learned that a local African American activist group, named the Crispus Attucks Brigade (CAB), was planning to conduct a protest march in downtown Los Angeles, CA on May 21, 2006. The protests were directed at illegal immigration and the alleged adverse impact of Latino workers on the African American community. The demonstration had the potential to spark significant counter-protest activity and to increase community racial tension. Additionally, it was reported that this group was an organization that had conducted counter-protests at the large pro-illegal immigration rallies that occurred in March 2006. Several smaller protest events had recently engendered counter-protests reaction and community disruption in other areas in the country.
To assist the community in preparing for these protests and to anticipate counter-protests, CRS met with the Los Angeles Police Department Central Division Operations staff and Incident Commander to develop a joint deployment plan. CRS also met with the demonstration organizers to clarify CRS’ role, and to provide them with assistance in conducting their protest peacefully. This assistance included verifying the march route, rally duration, and dispersal strategy for the planned event. Additionally, CRS met with representatives from the California Attorney General’s Office on May 19, 2006 to discuss its role in deploying its staff on May 21, 2006. CRS worked with the members of two separate counterprotest groups prior to the march on Sunday, May 21, 2006 to discuss the plans for the counter-protest activity.
CRS’ work with all of the groups included developing contingency plans, ensuring that the protest and counter-protest groups were separated to prevent violent confrontations from occurring, assessing march route vulnerabilities, and assisting the parties in developing appropriate dispersal plans for the conclusion of the march. CRS communicated early assessment of the vulnerabilities in the structure of this protest activity and suggested operational designs to provide separation and insulation of the two crowd segments.
On the day of the protest march, CRS functioned on a mobile basis, identifying flashpoints where incidents might occur along the route. CRS also provided communication between law enforcement, the protestors and the counter-protest organizers.
|Region 10: Northwest|
On March 9, 2006, CRS learned that two Latino students were involved in a school altercation at Everett High School in Everett, Washington on March 6, 2006. More than 75 student spectators reportedly observed the fight and refused to comply with a police order to disperse. Reportedly, only 15 students, most of them Latino, received adverse disciplinary actions as a result of this incident. Latino parents expressed concern that their children were treated disparately by the school administration and by law enforcement.
To address the concerns of Latino parents and dispel the community tensions that developed as a result of this incident, CRS met with the Everett chief of police, the Mayor, the school superintendent, and the school board president, as well as Latino parents, and community leadership. CRS provided technical assistance that assisted the parties in identifying potential methods to address the specific issues at Everett High School.
CRS assisted the parties in discussing the tensions and facilitated a number of meetings between the school administration, concerned parents, and Latino community leaders. The meetings served as a dialogue where community members were able to express their concerns directly to the school administration. This reduced the immediate tensions and helped to improve communication between the school administration, Latino parents, and students.
In addition, on March 20, 2006, CRS learned from media reports that there was a rally scheduled to take place on March 24, 2006 on the steps of the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. Latino parents, students and supporters were reportedly holding the rally to protest the March 6, 2006 incident at Everett High School.
A few days before the scheduled rally, CRS met with rally organizers and provided self-marshal training to event leadership to assist them in conducing a safe and peaceful rally. On the day of the rally, CRS met with the Everett Police Department Captain in command of security for the rally to ensure that all parties were working in coordination with each other. CRS remained in communication with the captain throughout the rally. CRS provided an onsite Federal presence at the rally to monitor and provide conciliation services as necessary.
The event drew approximately 100–115 Latino parents, students, and supporters. The protest and “Rally Against Racism” was peaceful and incident-free.Seattle, WA
On July 28, 2006, CRS learned from news media reports that a shooting had occurred at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle, Washington. News media reported that a Muslim American man of Pakistani descent allegedly shot and wounded four or more victims. According to media reports, the gunman stated that he attacked the Jewish community center because he was “angry at Israel.”
Additionally, on August 1, 2006, CRS learned from news media reports that 6 men between the age of 16 and 18 allegedly attacked a 14-year-old Muslim boy on July 31, 2006 in Bellevue, Washington. The Muslim community was concerned that this might be a retaliatory action in the wake the July 28, 2006 shooting incident. A picture of the boy’s injuries was circulating on the Internet at the time. Tensions within the Muslim American community were high, as many feared that further backlash, or incidents perceived to be backlash might occur.
To help the parties reduce tensions within their community, CRS coordinated communication between the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish community leadership from July 28–30, 2006. On July 29, 2006, CRS was onsite but working behind the scenes at the Seattle Police Department headquarters to assist the parties in preparing for a press conference regarding the shooting at the Jewish Federation. The purpose of the press conference was to create open lines of communication between the law enforcement and the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish community groups involved in the incident. CRS also facilitated a dialogue with representatives from the Arab and Muslim community, city officials, school district representatives, and representatives from the Hate Free Zone for Washington State. In these dialogue sessions, the parties were able to communicate with each other and identified ways to contribute to a joint solution.
Additionally, CRS was onsite during the funeral service for the victims of the gunman to ensure that no violence marred the ceremony. Bellevue Police officers were onsite at the synagogue before, during, and after the service, which assisted in maintaining a peaceful environment and lessened tensions within the Jewish community. Approximately 1,300 people attended the funeral, including Arab and Muslim community members and leaders who attended to show support for the Jewish community. Dignitaries from throughout the Pacific Northwest also attended. Although the burial was private, CRS was onsite during the burial in Seattle, WA to provide onsite conciliation services, as needed. On August 1 and 2, 2006, CRS was onsite at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to monitor evening peace vigils, which occurred without incident.
Since these events, tension between the Arab, Muslim, and Jewish communities has dissipated, due in part to CRS’ efforts in helping maintain open communication between the community leaders throughout the incident and the funeral and vigils held in honor of those who died.Medford, OR
On January 10, 2006, CRS learned of allegations that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Rogue Valley in Medford, Oregon, felt that they were being targeted by hate mail and that they were receiving racially motivated phone calls. In one particular incident, they received a frightening and vitriolic letter, dated December 30, 2005, from an individual expressing his anger that he had received a copy of the Hispanic Yellow Pages publication, intended for a former resident of the apartment. The letter made allegations regarding unlawful entry to the United States, refusal to speak English, forcing Americans to accept an Hispanic agenda, culture, language, illegal immigration, breaking laws, and “refusing to blend in with our culture.” Additionally, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the Rogue Valley expressed considerable anger, stating that the office had received hateful telephone calls but had been unable to identify the callers. While these events did not necessarily rise to the level of a hate incident, they did create significant concern and fear within the Hispanic community in Medford, OR.
To help the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce address their concerns, CRS provided them with technical assistance and models that other communities have used in the past to address these types of issues. CRS also met with Latino community leaders to discuss action steps that communities can take to identify and document bias and hate incidents. CRS also worked with the Deputy District Attorney and a representative from the Medford Police Department to develop trust and open lines of communication between the law enforcement and the Hispanic community groups who felt they were being targeted on the basis of their race. CRS also met with religious leaders in the community and with representatives of other law enforcement agencies in the county to describe CRS services and offer assistance in improving the police-community relationship.
Law enforcement and Hispanic community representatives expressed gratitude for the information and assistance provided by CRS. They expressed a desire to continue to work with CRS to improve the community and police relationship.
|Congressional Notification Requirement|
The Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Conference Report for fiscal year 1999 included Congressional notification requirements for CRS. The report stated:
Close coordination between the Administration and Congress could help stabilize racially motivated local incidents. As the people’s body, Congress must be kept informed when the Administration responds to a domestic crisis. Therefore, the Attorney General is directed to notify the relevant committees whenever requests by local officials prompt the deployment of CRS personnel to mediate conflict.
Whenever CRS mediators conducted violence prevention and conflict resolution activities in fiscal year 2006, CRS notified the two U.S. Senators of the State where the conflict occurred, the U.S. Representative of the affected Congressional district, and Senate and House Appropriations Committee staff members. CRS continues to meet this ongoing notification requirement.
|Glossary of Terms|
CRS uses the following terms in its publications to describe certain activities
Dialogue is a form of conciliation in which CRS facilitates discussions among a racially and ethnically diverse public which reflects various local agencies, institutions, and community residents. Topics of a dialogue include race, police-community relations, and other issues. Problem solving activities develop work plans for promoting peace and resolving conflict in neighborhoods and schools.
“Facilitate Communication” or “Open Lines of Communication”
Communities involved in racial disputes, conflicts, disturbances, or violence often have a history of poor communication among parties, which leads to misperceptions of each other’s actions, lack of trust, and avoidance of face-to-face discussion. CRS provides conflict resolution services by listening to the issues and concerns of each party and learning from each party about the problem and the potential resolutions to the conflict.
As a “third ear,” CRS is able to serve as a liaison for promoting better communities. Through reframing and clarifying the issues, CRS can often move parties towards resolving their problems. When the parties hear and understand each other, they may develop resolutions together. These communications may be in person, by telephone, e-mail, or fax, over a substantial period of time. The fundamental building block to building trust is communication, which reduces tensions and establishes important relationships for community stability.
LEM stands for Law Enforcement Mediation. LEM was developed by CRS in conjunction with the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. It is a program designed for police officers engaged in community policing activities. LEM assists officers in racially diverse communities to strengthen their skills in cross-cultural communication, investigation, problem-solving, anger management, and mediation techniques. Benefits of LEM include a reduction of potential violence and improved community relations.
Mediation consists of structured, formal, face-to-face negotiation. Participation is voluntary, and participants may include city officials, law enforcement officers, and community groups. CRS facilitates discussion between willing parties in order to achieve a documented agreement. Occasionally, courts will request CRS to mediate a dispute, particularly if it involves community groups and public agencies.
“Monitor Racial Tensions”
CRS monitors racial tensions to ensure they do not escalate and lead to violence. In some circumstances, when parties are not ready to use CRS services, CRS will step back and monitor racial tensions in the community as the parties consider their next course of action. CRS may also monitor community racial tensions after services have been provided to ensure that an agreement or resolution is effective. CRS may monitor a resolution through face-to-face meetings, e-mails, telephone conversations, or faxes with community leaders, law enforcement, and local officials.
“Provide Conciliation Assistance”
This is a comprehensive term to describe CRS’ conflict resolution and violence prevention services. Conciliation is a process by which CRS facilitates communications between the parties in conflict to reduce the likelihood of violence or disruption.
“Provide a Federal Presence”
CRS deploys staff to be available on location when conflict resolution services may be necessary to resolve or prevent conflict associated with a march, demonstration or community meeting. As an impartial Federal agency, CRS provides a stabilizing Federal presence when parties are in conflict or in direct physical contact with one another. CRS staff wear distinctive official clothing and station themselves at critical locations where parties may interact with one another or where crowd congestion could create tensions. This allows parties to recognize CRS staff and call on CRS services. During contentious situations, the mere presence of CRS staff may be enough to prevent intense emotion from developing into violence.
SPIRIT stands for Student Problem Identifying and Resolving Issues Together. It is an innovative program created by CRS that recognizes the value of student participation in solving racial conflict. SPIRIT brings together students, administrators, teachers, and parents to identify issues that are perpetuating conflict, and to develop solutions. As part of the program, school staff identifies student leaders to help guide the program. Since its inception, SPIRIT has been conducted in hundreds of schools across the country, and has been integral in preventing violence and conflict in areas with changing demographic populations.
City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) Program relies on the accomplishments of the SPIRIT initiative as a model. Instead of only focusing on educational institutions, City-SPIRIT involves civic leaders and local government officials who form a cadre of concerned citizens from all levels and backgrounds of society. It is an inclusive and participatory effort to improve race relations community-wide.
Because of CRS’ long history and experience in resolving racial conflict, it is often requested to provide expert materials, information, and experience to help communities resolve racial conflict and prevent violence. In some cases, CRS will provide expert technical advice to help overcome a major barrier to resolving a dispute. For example, CRS might provide technical insights on the structure and function of a Human Relations Commission. This kind of intervention can help address police, community, or school conflicts.
Training is provided by CRS in response to an existing conflict to help State, local, and tribal governments and communities create an immediate capacity to address racial conflict situations. Whenever necessary, CRS seeks to strengthen community capacity to address local racial disputes by providing on-the-spot training.
|City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) Program relies on the accomplishments of the SPIRIT initiative as a model. Instead of only focusing on educational institutions, City-SPIRIT involves civic leaders and local government officials who form a cadre of concerned citizens from all levels and backgrounds of society. It is an inclusive and participatory effort to improve race relations community-wide.|
|Frequently Asked Questions|
What is the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service?
The Community Relations Service (CRS) is a Congressionally mandated Federal agency that assists communities by resolving conflicts based on race, color, and national origin. CRS provides services to local officials and community leaders by trained Federal mediators on a voluntary and cost-free basis. Types of assistance available from CRS include mediation of disputes and conflicts, training in cultural competence, conflict resolution skills, technical assistance, and facilitation in developing strategies to prevent and resolve conflicts.
What is CRS’ jurisdiction?
CRS provides its services to local communities when there are community-wide conflicts, tension, or violence stemming from racial or ethnic issues. CRS provides service on a voluntary and confidential basis, according to provisions in Title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Where does CRS work?
CRS works in all 50 States and territories, and in communities large and small: rural, suburban, and urban. Much of CRS’ work comes from requests by local law enforcement officials, school administrators, government officials, community leaders, and other local and State authorities. Parties request CRS’ assistance where neutral mediators are needed to help calm tensions, prevent violence, and facilitate communication.
Who provides CRS services?
Trained impartial CRS conflict resolution mediators, known as Conciliation Specialists, are based in 10 regional and 4 field offices across the county and are available on a 24-hour basis. They follow established and standardized procedures in their work. In each incident, CRS first assesses the situation by determining what racial, ethnic, and cultural origin tensions or issues may be present in a community. This often includes meeting face to face with the affected parties. After gaining an in-depth understanding of the situation, CRS will determine action necessary to help resolve the conflict and prevent violence from occurring.
When are CRS services appropriate?
CRS work often involves situations racial conflict or violence involving police-community relations; hate incidents; cultural awareness needs; and perceptions of disparate treatment, or discrimination based on race, culture, or national origin. The most intense casework tends to involve police excessive use of force, the major demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, major school disruptions, and hate incident activity.
Can a community refuse CRS services?
CRS provides its services at the request of local officials or community leaders. Communities may decline CRS services at any time.
Why are Federal CRS mediators a good choice to resolve community racial conflict?
Since CRS mediators are federally funded, they are able to ensure their impartiality in helping to resolve conflicts on Federal, State, and local levels. CRS is a component of the Justice Department’s mission to help State and local governments prevent community violence and promote public safety.
Why is CRS located in the Justice Department?
CRS is not a law enforcement agency, nor does CRS prosecute or investigate issues. CRS’ purpose is to represent the Department of Justice in one of its most important missions — providing assistance and support to Federal, State, and local authorities in their efforts to prevent violence and resolve conflicts based on race, color, and national origin. As representatives of the Department of Justice, CRS mediators have the credibility and trust to work effectively with people on all sides of the conflict. CRS is not part of the Civil Rights Division, but is an independent agency within the Department of Justice.
How does CRS know if it has been successful?
The level of satisfaction among the recipients of CRS services is the best indication of whether CRS has been successful. Whenever possible, CRS will contact local officials to review the status of agreements, programs, and community-wide tension or conflict. An internal reporting system registers outcomes and accomplishments for each CRS case activity.
National HeadquartersCommunity Relations Service
|CRS Customer Service Standards|
Our goal is to provide sensitive and effective conflict prevention and resolution services. You can expect us to meet the following standards when we work with you: