Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part III

The Events of November 18, 1973

Paragraphs 124 thru 125. - An Examination in Detail [Part 28] - THE COMMISSIONER'S FINDINGS on the Nine Questions asked in para. 89 [Part A]

124. After a critical examination of the evidence, we shall now determine the questions posed in paragraph 89.

We are satisfied that a meeting of Grenville businessmen was arranged for 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 18, 1973 at the DeLuxe Cinema and that Mr. Maurice Bishop was the only one of the Six specifically invited by Mr. H.M. Bhola to attend. The invitation was not limited in its terms and the reasonable inference is that Mr. Bishop was responsible for the attendance of the others.

There is no credible evidence to support the alleged rumour upon which police action was based to the effect that the Six men or any one else had conspired to take over the State of Grenada on Sunday, November 18,, 1973 and that the seizure of the Grenville police station was part of such a conspiracy.

There is no credible evidence to support the allegation that the Six men intended to ambush Asst. Supt. Belmar. Although we accept that there was a rumour that the State was to be taken over on November 18, 1973, by the New Jewel Movement, it seems to us clear that such a rumour arose indirectly from the request made to members of the Government by the New Jewel Movement to resign by that date. There is no evidence as to how the rumour started, and although we are satisfied that it was unfounded in fact, insofar as the ascertainable intentions of the New Jewel Movement are concerned, we are also satisfied that the Security Branch of the Police Force, members of the Police Force and the Minister of National Security [Gairy] resolved to take action whether or not the rumour may have been well founded.

We shall refer later to the questions whether there was a genuine belief in the probably truth of the rumour or whether the alleged rumour was merely used as an excuse to justify violent and repressive action as a means of suppressing the political activity of the New Jewel Movement.

There was nothing in the evidence of Mrs. Ann Alexander to support he alleged assumption by Belmar that the Grenville police station would be attacked on November 18, 1973. The fact that the report she made to Belmar was not investigated in any way nor reported to the Commissioner of Police indicates that the report, if made at all, was not considered worthy of investigation either by the members of the Grenville police station or by the Special Branch.

The evidence of Belmar and Andrews conflicted as to whether Belmar told Andrews about the possible attack on the police station, and so also did the evidence of Belmar and Commissioner David.

While we were gravely concerned about David's repeated omissions to take resolute action to restrain unlawful and criminal conduct of which he was aware, we accepted his evidence in preference to that of Belmar wherever there was conflict.

We accept also that Belmar did not at any time tell Andrews of any report concerning a possible attack on the police station on November 18, 1973. We think, however, that it is a fair inference from the evidence that on Sunday, November 18, Belmar did instruct Andrews to intercept the Six men on their arrival in Grenville and to prevent the meting of businessmen from being held. It was known by Belmar on Saturday, November 17 that the meeting was to be held and for what purpose. He may not then have known who would attend, but he was reasonably sure as to who might do so after the Six men travelled through the Grand Etang.

It is fairly to be inferred also that the action proposed to be taken by the police at Grenville about the meeting of businessmen with any members of the New Jewel Movement likely to attend, had been discussed between the Minister of National Security, the Hon. E.M. Gairy, and police officers, including (ag.) Commissioner David and Asst. Supt. Belmar, before midday on Sunday, November 18. The allegation by Belmar that he was told about the likelihood of being ambushed by the Six men was demonstrably untrue. His allegation that he was told at Birchgrove on Sunday, November 18, about the impending attack on the police station was equally untrue.

125. There remains for consideration the questions whether there was genuine belief in the probably truth of the rumours concerning the take-over of the State and/or the Grenville police station; or whether the alleged rumour was merely used as an excuse to justify violent and repressive action as a means of suppressing the political activity of the New Jewel Movement.

The documentary evidence supports the view that the New Jewel Movement was vigorously campaigning for a change of Government. It is clear that their attitude was bitterly condemnatory of the Government under the leadership of Mr. Gairy. We are satisfied that the members were endeavouring to persuade the population of Grenada, including the members of the Government itself, that the Government was corrupt and deserved to be removed.

The meeting at Seamoon on November 4 provided a clear indication by the New Jewel Movement of its intention to take steps which might result in the replacement of the Government by an interim Government designed on such an unorthodox pattern as indicated a certain political naivete among the members of the Movement.

So that as it may, the New Jewel Movement conceived the idea of a prolonged General Strike as the measure most likely to render the Government ineffective. We do not have to decide whether the members genuinely believed that their request to members of the Government to resign by November 18 was likely to be acceded to; but we cannot resist the comment that the request manifested a lamentable unawareness of the realities of politics and political power in the West Indies and, in particular, in Grenada.

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