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

Paragraphs 175 thru 176. - THE RIOT ON JANUARY 21, 1974 [PART 19] - The evidence David Isaac (and affidavit) [Part A]

175. The affidavit which was tendered in evidence as exhibit 49 reads as follows:

GRENADA

I DAVID ISAAC of Mardigras in the parish of Saint George make oath and say as follows:
  1. On or about the 18th day of January, 1974 there was an announcement on Radio Grenada that all Special Reserve Police were to report at Mount Royal by 8 a.m. on the 21st day of January, 1974 and each Special Reserve Police should bring along three persons who were interested in becoming Special Reserve Police.

  2. That about 10 a.m. on the said 21st day of January, 1974 I went to Mount Royal in the company of two persons who were already Special Reserve Police.

  3. There were some 300 persons there when I arrived and after waiting for about 30 minutes the then Premier E.M. Gairy came out of the house. The men there applauded.

  4. He then said the following "you men are to report to the Police Station nearest your homes I am employing everybody. I want you to go to town now and you will have lunch on the Esplanade. When you get to town if you see any place closed it is your duty to open it."

  5. Moslyn "Pram" Bishop then said to the Premier we have some fellas to take and the Premier asked him to repeat what he had said. He did so and Mr. Gairy replied Oh! I see. Mr. Gairy then said "Who are the fellows" and Moslyn Bishop replied Austin, Face Bishop and Radix. The Premier then laughed.

  6. A fellow said to the Premier "last night some Jewels stoned my house" and the Premier replied I heard so. Mr. Gairy continued "there is a fellow called 'Jumbie Bird' in Saint Paul's who I hear looking for me. Anytime you see him don't be afraid."

  7. The men there started singing "Jewel behave yourself otherwise they will try us for murder" and someone asked Mr. Gairy if we could go to town singing the song. He replied "Yes."

  8. The men were leaving Mount Royal and they were armed with revolvers axe handles cutlasses and pieces of iron and the Premier said when I am ready for you again I will call you.

  9. On leaving Mount Royal we travelled down Lucas Street singing the said song along Tyrrel Street and then to the Carenage. Many man women and children were standing in front of Otway House. I heard a voice coming over a public address system.

  10. The assembled crowd then divided and we passed through singing the same song. When we were almost gone past the assembled persons a man in my group pulled out a cutlass and began to planass a man with it. We then continued in the direction of Jonas Browne and Hubbard.

  11. Suddenly people in our group then began to throw stones at the people who were standing in front Otway House and they began to run. Some of the people in front Otway House threw back some of the stones.

  12. A soft drink truck then arrived on the scene and the driver jumped out and a man got in and put it across the road. People in my group then begun to throw bottles of sweet drinks at the people near Otway House. There was also the sound of guns.

  13. The Police and Secret Police advanced on Otway House and I noticed men women and children jumping out of the window of the said building. Some of the Police and Special Reserve Police kicked down the front door which was closed and the Police threw tear gas into the building. As the people ran out they were beaten by the Police and Special Reserve Police.

  14. The Police fired bullets into the building and after sometime and Police and Secret Police came outside of the said building and we jumped up to the firestation.

  15. At the firestation it was decided to go to town and on reaching in front of the Cold Store the men then broke in and begun to loot. I became tired and went home.

SWORN TO at my office at      )
Saint Paul's in the parish         )
of Saint George this 29th        )     sgd. David Isaac
day of April, 1974                     )

before me sgd. Foster A. Gittens

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

176. The affidavit sworn by David Isaac was submitted to the Commission on April 29, 1974. The information appeared acutely relevant to the enquiry into the circumstances of the riot on the Carenage on Monday, January 21, 1974; consequently he was summoned to testify. He said on or about January 18, 1974, he heard that the Premier wished to employ police aides. He heard that all Reserve Police should bring at least three friends or more to Mount Royal.

His recollection was that on the Saturday following the announcement he left his home at Mardigras and went to Mount Royal about 9.00 a.m. He sat underneath a tree on top the bank behind the house. About half an hour after he heard a clap and he saw the Premier arrive. There were about 300 persons there.

According to David Isaac the Premier told the gathered company that he was hoping to employ everybody but everybody should go back and report to the nearest police station. Among the men he saw there was Moslyn Bishop, called Pram Bishop. He overheard someone names Akins say to the Premier that "last night some jewels stone his house." The Premier said he heard so. He said he heard the Premier say that he heard there is a fellow called "Jumbie Bird" in St. Paul's whom he heard was looking for him. He understood from the Premier that when the men left Mount royal they were going to eat on the Esplanade at Georgie.

Q. What about singing, was there any discussion about singing songs while going down to the Esplanade?
A. Well, when we leave the Premier's home - before we leave the Premier's home there had some fellow from the country - the Premier went to a meeting and then one of them fellow sing the song for him and then he asked them to sing it over. When they sing it over he say "Yes", that is the song. Then we leave and we went into town.
Q. What was the song? How does it go?
A. Jewel behave yourself, they go charge us for murder.
Q. You said somebody sang the song for the Premier and he said that is the song?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Didn't they ask if they could sing it when they went down to the Esplanade?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Asked who? The Premier?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What did he say about that?
A. He say you could go ahead singing it.

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