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

Part IV

Events Subsequent to November 18, 1973

Paragraph 152. - THE RIOT ON JANUARY 21, 1974 [PART 4] - The evidence of Alister Hughes [Part B]

152. It is useful to narrate Mr. Hughes recollection of the events after the police aides were first seen. Mr. Pierre said he saw Mr. Hughes giving a running commentary. They were not together and were not seeing the same incidents from the same position. Moreover, the interest of the journalist in the execution of his work to perceive and record was markedly different from that of the trade unionist, who was acutely conscious of his responsibility to the women and children of his union colleagues. There are therefore differences between their evidence although those are not necessarily to be understood as discrepancies.

We propose to examine also the evidence of other witnesses who were present that day. Differences will be at once discernible; but these are unavoidable when people of different ages, interest and pursuits see the same event from different positions. It was in the course of having to consider these differences in oral testimony given several months afterward that the Commission was greatly helped by th contemporaneous recording made by Mr. Hughes on January 21, 1974.

He saw Eric Pierre go to the microphone and take it away from the person who was then speaking. Pierre said he understood that the police aides were then coming from Mount Royal down Tyrrel Street. Hughes looked up and saw a crowd of men jogging along Tyrrel street; they were travelling in an easterly direction and in a short while they came out on to th Carenage through Hughes Street moving in the direction of the demonstration.

He heard someone on the public address system saying "Get the women and children in the centre" and someone else told the people to be calm. The demonstrators parted and the jogging men whom he estimated to be about 500 in number passed through singing a song, the words of which he did not hear.

After they had gone completely through the crowd, he became aware that stones were being thrown on the western side of the demonstrators close to Otway business establishment, which adjoins Otway House. He saw stones being thrown in both directions.

He saw a jeep with uniformed police arrive from the direction of the Cable and Wireless building which was east of where he was and on the side of the Fire Station. The jeep travelled west towards the demonstrators. A crowd of demonstrators crowded around the jeep and there was a lot of gesticulation. One policeman pulled out a revolved and was brandishing it. After a while, the jeep proceeded. It went through the crowd of demonstrators and went through the area where the stones and bottles were being thrown into the direction of Jonas Browne and Hubbard's Motor Department, outside of the Cold Store where it stopped; and the men with rifles dismounted from the jeep.

He could see men throwing things at the building of Huggins & Co; he saw uniformed police then with rifles walking in the direction of Otway House leading the men. The policemen were firing their rifles in the direction of Otway House and higher up.

Hughes went into Otway House where "there was a fair amount of panic and there were a lot of women and children and some men." He looked through a window and saw a truck parked outside Jonas Browne & Hubbard with orange coloured sweetdrinks which were being used as missiles by the men who came from Mount Royal.

Hughes said that in Otway House he also saw men going into the back and coming out with boxes of empty sweetdrink bottles which, presumably, were to be used as missiles also.

He continued - "Across against the Carenage there were some round culverts and those were being broken up by people who appeared to be demonstrators and being used as stones to throw in the direction of Jonas Browne & Hubbards. I saw Molotov cocktails. They appeared to have been coming from Otway's Establishment and were being thrown in the direction of the truck . . . it was then that these missiles started to hit Otway House but we retired into the back room . . . I could see policemen still using their rifles and as they got closer and stones and bottles started to strike against Otway House and come through the windows, the people who were inside there retreated to the rooms and were at the back of Otway House."

Q. Whilst you were there, what happened, if anything?
A. Well, we could hear the rifle fire and the bottles for a little while, and after a little while we were aware that tear gas was being used . . . It was coming into the room where we were.
Q. What did you do?
A. I was closest to the door and I opened the door and saw out in the main hall.
Q. Now in the main hall did you see anything? or do anything?
A. I had to stumble across a lot of chairs that were scattered in the middle and I was being quite affected by the tear gas that was there, but at the head of the stairs I saw Mr. Rupert Bishop lying on the floor.
Q. What did you do?
A. I went down the stairs, the door to the road was opened and outside I could see about six men and some of them were armed with sticks, some were armed with cutlasses, some were armed with sweetdrink bottles, and they were very threatening.
Q. What happened?
A. Well as I got out somebody grabbed me by the hand, somebody who was on the left of the entrance. The person was Asst. Supt. Adonis Francis . . . He grabbed by hand and he led me away. He said to me "You are a good citizen. I cannot allow them to do that to you."
Q. What happened whilst you were being led away?
A. Well I got a stroke on my back with the flat of a cutlass.

Mr. Hughes went to his father's house in Scott Street and later he returned with his wife to Otway House to find the tape recorder that he had to leave there. He went up Scott Street and down Tryne Alley and passed by Hubbards Motor Department which adjoins the Cold Store where he saw people going in and out of the Cold Store "carrying goods, packages, and cars were being loaded up outside. People were looting." Hughes went back to Otway House and recovered his tape recorder. He learned that Mr. Rupert Bishop had been shot and subsequently died.

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