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 184 thru 185. - The evidence of Hon. Eric Matthew Gairy [Part D]

184. There are two matters in the evidence of Mr. Gairy to which direct reference might be made. The first deals with the knowledge which Mr. Gairy says he possessed with regard to the time the demonstration had ended; and the second deals with the information he said he had received about the manner in which the riot started.

With regard to the first he said -

Q. That meeting was held at Mount Royal and you said you were informed that the demonstration for that day, and you knew of the demonstration, did you not?
A. Yes. I knew about the demonstration
Q. And it was concluded by 11:35 that morning. You were so informed?
A. The demonstration started at nine o'clock and about 11:15 as a matter of fact, I think the demonstration returned at about ten something and they were dispersed at 11:15.
Q. You were so informed.
A. Yes. But I still held the people to make sure, as we say, doubly sure, that they were not going before 12:30. They went down, they were told to go down straight to the Esplanade for lunch and I specifically told them do not get into conflict with the Jewel Movement or any of the demonstrators because I knew in my mind, I didn't tell them that, but while I was speaking in my mind was the fact that most of the Jewel members were smoking weed and then they will do things for which they would be sorry afterwards, but when people are smoking these drugs they get . . . well, as I said in one of my addresses, that they feel that they are giants and everybody else is dwarf.

With regard to the second, he said:

Q. I am asking you now quite specifically. Were you given, as Minister of National Security, a report of what occurred on the Carenage on the 21st of January?
A. A written report, an oral report?
Q. I don't know.
A. I was told what happened.
Q. Just told?
A. Yes. I was told that the demonstration was over and there were a few people in the building and that the people who left Mount Royal, instead of going directly to the Esplanade, they went around singing.
Q. Singing what song. Were you told?
A. All along I was thinking that they were singing "We put you there you must stay." Singing, and that the crowd had passed that is the volunteers or what ever you want to call them. They had passed and in the end, there were about five or seven people at the end, someone came with a cutlass from upstairs and used the flat part of the cutlass beating them. Then most of the people who were singing turned around and there was a conflict and there was a truck with sweet drinks and the volunteers were using the sweet drinks while the people upstairs were using guns and fire bombs. Hundreds of the fire bombs were thrown in the road and thrown at the men, I understand.

185. It seemed important to us to discover by what means Mr. Gairy might have been informed that the demonstration was over and what lead him to believe that the way was sufficiently clear to justify his despatching the police aides without fear of conflict. He said that the possibility of a conflict had exercised his mind and it seemed reasonable to us to assume therefore that, as Minister of National Security, he would have required reliable information about the true state of affairs and to expect that the persons responsible for providing that information might have been easily identifiable having regard to the unusual nature of the occurrence and the calamitous effect it had on people and property. His evidence on this aspect of the matter was as follows:

Q. Was it because you apprehended a clash if the demonstration was still being held?
A. The possibility of, yes. A conflict if the demonstration was in progress and therefore I would not have sent the crowd to eat when the demonstration was in progress, or when the meeting was being held.
Q. Yes. As Minister of National Security that would have been one of the factors uppermost in your mind - the possibility of such a thing happening.
A. Yes.
Q. And I take it from what you said that with that apprehensive concern you made diligent enquiry.
A. Yes.
Q. Well, I am going to have to ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, who informed you about those circumstances.
A. Well the police did. Yes.
Q. I may have to ask you to be more specific than that. Do you remember whether it was an officer of police or who it was that informed you about that?
A. An officer. Because at those times, during those times, it was the police officers, the Inspectors, who came up and kept me informed about what was happening. I couldn't exactly say which one.
Q. Well did you cause him to use his telecommunication facilities to ascertain the facts, you see, because as Minister this was a matter of special concern. Did he use the telecommunication facilities?
A. they came right up to Mount Royal to inform me at all times.
Q. Yes. But see if you get what I mean. About this specific thing do you know whether they did rely upon their telecommunication equipment to bring you that information?
A. No. They are moving close to me. There is a police station at my gate and so the police move from the police station.
Q. Would the information then have reached you from the gate?
A. No. They came through my gate.
Q. The information, would it have come up to you . . . ?
A. No. I think that they went out on cycles and came back and told me.
Q. I see. And told you this. Now you still believe that the demonstration was over?
A. Yes.
Q. When I say still, I mean today.
A. Yes, I believe so.

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