Ice T famous Rapper and Television star is producing a new reality show highlighting gang wars and the use of mediation (on A&E...check local listing for times). When I came across this, I was very excited as the use of mediation and gangs has always been very interesting to me.
However, more interesting to me, is the use of mediation on television. It seems that there is a continuing conversation amongst many of us to how we effectively create awareness to the ADR field. So my question is what kind of impact, if any will this have in creating awareness? I am also curious about the following: watching Mr. Spellman's (mediator...see below) process through a mediators lens, how and in what way will that be captured/portrayed on camera, and what kind of "light" will this have on the world of mediation and ADR?

Malik Spellman has gone from the streets of Jamaica, Queens, to being an ex-con in Los Angeles and now a TV star.

Spellman, who left New York in 1980 as a teenager and landed in the heart of Los Angeles gang country, is the centerpiece of "The Peacemaker: L.A. Gang Wars," a new half-hour reality show that follows his efforts to settle beefs between warring gangs.

"If I waste a day or even an hour, that's enough time for a battle to start," Spellman says early in the first episode, airing Thursday at 10 p.m.

Spellman is a gang mediator, which surely doesn't come up often in Yahoo job searches or turn up in the placement offices of elite colleges.

His goal is to stop fights, often deadly ones, between rival gang members before guns are pulled from waistbands.

Think about that: He tries to get guys who carry guns and occasionally use them to, well, not shoot. And he does this on their turf. Add in television cameras, which film his work with folks who don't really seek Lindsay Lohan-like publicity, for a reality show produced by rapper-actor Ice T.

It's no wonder that at one point, Spellman puts on a bulletproof vest to go talk to the guys.

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I will be tuning in to this new reality show and hope to write more about my observations. Let me know your thoughts now and after watching the show. I am interested in reading what others think!!

Until next time.....


Views: 85

Comment by Noam Ebner on December 14, 2010 at 11:38am

"Fairly Legal" is supposed to start airing towards the end of January... Interesting to see if prime-time attention will spark some good interest and awareness - or spread misconceptions about what it's all about... 

Comment by Jason Dykstra on December 15, 2010 at 6:58am

This is very intriguing Lynsee.  Thanks for posting.  It will be very interesting to see how mediation is portrayed in this show.  I'm also very interested with the topic involving gangs.  Thanks for posting!

Comment by Noam Ebner on December 15, 2010 at 7:14am

Check out the work of Wallace Warfield, from ICAR and George Mason who just passed away this summer. Wallace did some fascinating mediation work with gangs in NYC.

Comment by Lynsee Swisher on December 28, 2010 at 8:14pm

I finally had the time to sit down and watch a few episodes of "L.A. Gang Wars". To say the least, I was so impressed by Mr. Spellman's passion, heart, and courage to set foot in high conflict regions and get groups of people to mediate. I will say it again, it is impressive.

He does a great job at getting people to the "table" and using his mediator skills (and knowledge of how gangs work) to make others understand how essential it is to get people talking in the face of real potential danger. Mr. Spellman comes from a place of understanding, respect, and urgency to help others.

It was interesting to find in the 2 episodes that I watched, he had quick "buy in" of the process from at least one side, making it easier (if I can say easier) to get people to the mediation to talk. It was a really interesting and amazing show, looking at it from the lens of a mediator. I think that it does our field great justice to see a mediator like Mr. Spellman in "action".


Anyone interested in the show, I suggest watching it. It really is very intriguing from many different perspectives.


I will be interested to watch the show that Noam mention,  "Fairly Legal". I agree it will be interesting to see how the field is potrayed, maybe could consult to make it as realistic as possible???



Comment by Noam Ebner on December 29, 2010 at 12:49am
Well, let's just say I haven't turned them down yet...
Comment by Jeff Thompson on December 29, 2010 at 5:16pm



While reading your last comment it makes me wonder, in the context of the show at least, how powerful expertise in a certain area is. 


Just thinking aloud- if expertise helps build credibility in gang situations, does this validate having other speciality areas (real estate, finance, construction, international, franchise, work-place, etc.) in mediation?

Comment by Lynsee Swisher on December 29, 2010 at 6:49pm
Noam, Ill be watching and writing about the new series! Ill be eager to read your thoughts.

Jeff, I think in regards to this show, it is essential that Mr. Spellman has the experience he does and the relationships he has created (he once being in prison for gang affiliation). He know uses his knowledge and passion to help gangs through mediation. With that said, I think that this specialized type of mediation he has to be an "expert" but I am not so certain that it is always important.

Is it helpful to have a "speciality" as a mediator going into a mediation? Sometimes, I think it is helpful like the case above, but I think it can also potentially create biases.

For example, if someone mediates a land use case and it is concerning wetlands (hot topic in the NW) and one mediator is a environmental specialist, it may be challenging for that person to stay "neutral". Especially, when they have a underlying interest in the environment. Although, their expertise may be helpful, it could prove to be harmful as well.

Its one of those questions that a mediator has to ask themselves. Does my subject knowledge of the case help or can it harm the process as a whole?

So, I am not sure if there is a right answer but you certainly got a long one.

Just my thoughts....

Comment by Jeff Thompson on December 29, 2010 at 7:01pm

Its one of those questions that a mediator has to ask themselves. Does my subject knowledge of the case help or can it harm the process as a whole?


Good point, but don't forget also the parties will have a say as well- if they want a mediator with an expertise and you do not have it, I don't think they will hire that mediator.


Also, perhaps the speciality comes more into play in complex situations such as labor disputes and not necessarily noise issues in community mediation for example.


As for specialities, since I live in New York City, of all the areas I might consider "specializing" in one day, wetlands issues is not one of them :)



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