The Two Jills

Why a pair of white women lawyers are taking the fight over federal mediation to the courts

Clark and Waite, not surprisingly, defend their roles, and both are eager to point out that part of their goal is to put a white face on the fight for racial equality. "I think it's an attempt to marginalize what we're fighting for to say, why are these white women interested in this?

"Why isn't everybody jumping out of their chairs to do something about this? That's my question," Clark says. "White suburban Minnesotans experience the police as their protectors, people in minority communities experience the police as paramilitary battalions."

So the two attorneys are content to wait it out, convinced that federal mediation--and Justice Department oversight of any agreement reached--is still the best option for minorities in Minneapolis. To step aside at this point, they claim, would ruin any hopes for improving relations between police and minorities. "If that were to happen, that would be the death knell for federal mediation," Waite says, adding that if the council were to rescind because of the lawsuit, it would reveal which council members were serious about mediation in the first place. "It would prove once and for all that [Olson] can undermine the process."

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