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 126 thru 127. - An Examination in Detail [Part 29] - THE COMMISSIONER'S FINDINGS on the Nine Questions asked in para. 89 [Part B]

126. The Government of Grenada had committed itself to achieving political independence in February, 1974.

Evidently a certain section of the Grenada public was bitterly opposed to independence and therefore opposed to the Government which sought it; another section was opposed to Independence under the existing Government which sought it; another section was opposed to Independence under the existing Government with or without independence.

These were conflicting interests with a single common factor - and that was - opposition to the Government.

The impression we formed from the evidence was that, insofar as there was support for these choices of preference, it was more urban than rural and that the New Jewel Movement had by November, 1973 gathered around itself some measure of popularity in and around the environs of the capital city of St. George's and the township of Grenville. The evidence suggests that the Seamoon meeting of November 4 was considered both by the police and the New Jewel Movement o be one of major importance. The Grenville police station diary bears eloquent testimony of the police assessment of the situation. Police aides in large numbers were brought in from various parts of the country. Entries No. 254 and 256 made between 09:30 and 09:36 on Sunday, November 4 record that 39 police aides reported for duty; at 10:40 entry 264 records that 17 police aides arrived from St. David's; at 10:50 14 arrived from St. George's; and thereafter the diary record is as follows:


No. of Entry Time No. of Police Aides Place of Origin                    
268 11:05 4 Grenville
269 11:10 8 Gouyave
270 11:15 7 Victoria
271 11:20 2 Union
272 11:25 7 Grand Roy
273 11:30 5 Sauteurs
276 11:35 3 St. George's
278      11:50       Sgt. Wilson of Grand Etang applied for transport to carry police aides from Grand Etang to Grenville    
279      11:52       P.C. 434 Radise left to collect police aides at Grand Etang.    
281 12:05 5
(including Philip
Brizan and Willie
Bishop)
St. George's
292 12:50 4 Grand Etang
299 14:00 5 St. George's
307 14:25 4 Victoria
317 15:16 6 St. David's
319 15:21 3 St. George's
320 15:34 5 Grand Etang

At varying times individual police aides arrived from Gouyave, Birchgrove, Grand Roy and other districts. Altogether, about 150 police aides had been assembled at the Grenville police station before the two meetings were held on that day - one by the Grenada United Labour Party in the Grenville Market Square, and the other by the New Jewel Movement.

Whatsoever may have been the apprehension of the police it is clear that efforts were made to take adequate security measures. The evidence is that many vehicles were searched on that day, Sunday, November 4 and reference has already been made to the incident involving James Kenrick Milne.

It may here be appropriate to disclose the diary entries concerning the case of Norbert St. Bernard about whom reference has also been already made. These entries will emphasise the difference in the method of recording between those entries concerning the arrest and the charges against the Six men and those of other persons mentioned on November 18 and, as well, the charge against Norbert St. Bernard on November 4.

Sunday, November 4, 1973

No. of Entry         Subject                                 Time       Nature of Record
332         Being in
possession of
unlicensed firearm                                
16:54       Norbert St. Bernard, 48 years, manual worker of Woburn St., St. George's arrested at Grenville police station for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm on Albert Street in the town of Grenville on Sunday, 4.11.73 at about 16:30 hours. Police aide John Coban of Birchgrove reported at the station and pointed out the prisoners. A woman of Soubise also got shot from the said firearm. The prisoner was arrested by me on the report of the police aide.

127. it was at the meeting of November 4 that the New Jewel Movement presented the document which described itself as "The People's Indictment." The report of the Special Branch of the Police Force dated November 12, for the month of October, 1973, states, with respect to the New Jewel Movement -

"They invited the public to attend their Peoples National Congress (P.N.C.) which was scheduled for November 4 at Seamoon. It was disclosed that the purpose of the National Congress will be to decide ways and means of transferring political power from the hands of the present Government into the hands of the people headed by the New Jewel Movement and to elect members for their new "National Unity" Government prior to their predicted success of the movement overthrowing Government."

There can be little doubt that the proposals being urged by the New Jewel Movement, if they gained popular currency, were likely to threaten the position of political power then held by the Grenada United Labour Party and in particular the political leadership of the Hon. E.M. Gairy.

The reports of the meeting at the Seamoon must have caused concern in certain quarters that the apparent support for the New Jewel Movement manifested by the numbers of persons in attendance at its meeting might interfere with the Government's progressing programme for political independence in February, 1974.

Mr. Gairy was profoundly committed to political independence. He was unswervingly determined to achieve this in the way and at the time he planned. When he gave evidence about this matter, we were convinced that his ambitions in this direction were genuine and that the emotional fervour with which he spoke on the subject was a true reflection of his convictions and, in a way, an indication of the measure of determination which attended his endeavours to achieve the status for Grenada.

We are, however, constrained to take the view that the intensity of his feeling may have conditioned his choice of action in meeting what he may genuinely have believed to be a threat to the timely achievement of the objective of political independence for Grenada. We fear that when he said to us that he intended at about that time to achieve political independence "at all costs," he may well have lapsed into the ideological plane where [he] became rooted the belief that any opposition either to the Government or to the Government's plan for independence was inimical to the best interests of the State and therefore had to be vigourously crushed. If your fears are justified, as the evidence indicates they are, it does not seem difficult to understand the course which marked the flow of events, nor is there any confusion as to their purpose and direction.

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