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

Webmaster Note: The narrative below, embellished by other parts of the Duffus Report, lays the foundation for a film script about this important event in Grenada's history.

Part IV

Events Subsequent to November 18, 1973

Paragraph 186. - Mr. Alister Hughes and a transcript of his tape recording of the incident on January 21, 1974

186. We do not consider that the entire verbatim record of the tape produced in evidence by Mr. Alister Hughes is necessary for this section of our report. We have therefore provided a summary of the events and the speeches commencing from 10:30 a.m. to the speech made by the student Johnson. Johnson's speech was interrupted when a voice was heard through the microphone to say:

"I understand that if you look up the road now you will see them coming down. The Secret Police are coming. Brothers and sisters, keep your cool, keep your cool."

From that point on the tape the verbatim commentary of Mr. Alister Hughes is reproduced in full and it is this portion of the recording which greatly assisted us not only in assessing the accuracy of Mr. Hughes' evidence but also in helping us to understand the sequence of events about which other eye witnesses spoke as having occurred on Monday, January 21, 1974.

TRANSCRIPT OF TAPE BY ALISTER HUGHES

Monday, January 21, 1974

Demonstration - 10:30 a.m.

Hughes:                          Many stores have closed their doors. Some are opening them only to allow people out.
Crowd chants:                          "Run away, Gairy Gairy run away
(Repeat)
Run Gairy run boy
Run for your life boy
If the people hold you
They surely overthrow you.

(This is repeated about six times)

One section of crowd says:                          Gairy must go.
Another section answers:                          Right now.
Hughes:                          Demonstration now reaches Nelson Street [as in original text; unidentifiable street]. Coming round by Royal Bank of Canada [corner of Cross Street and Halifax Street].
Crowd chants:                          Gairy hiding, hiding, hiding,
Gairy hiding, hiding from the crowd.

(Spells) g o = go Gairy bound to go
(Repeat three times)
He go to Guyana
He go and wuk obeah
He wuk obeah
In Guyana (Repeat)
Crowd sings the Hymn -                           "Hold Forth we are Coming."*
Chorus again:                           Run away, Gairy Gairy run away.

G o = go Gairy bound to go.

Hughes:                           It's now 6 minutes past 11 outside Otway House.

Speeches begin:

Eric Pierre told the crowd that the people no longer had confidence in the police. Asked if Gairy had the 90% backing he claimed, then why was he so afraid.

Michael Davidson raised three cheers for the Workers Union.

Mrs. Sybil La Granade addressed the meeting. Asked whether they were tired. Spoke of the familiar saying "The voice of the people is the voice of God." Said there were 30,000 people crying "Gairy must go" therefore it was God asking him to do. Said they would treat him as God did Lucifer - throw him out of the heavenly land. Said she had heard a Gairy supporter asking a demonstrator why he wanted Gairy to go. The demonstrator had replied because he was bad. She then told the crowd they must explain why they say he is bad.

Misuse of pubic service which destroyed the morale of Civil Service - Appointed De Gale as Governor in hope of destroying the citizens of Grenada - Destroyed cocoa, banana and nutmeg industries - destroyed agriculture, the backbone of the country - roads are bad - they were back in the stone age. Said "When we are tired walking we will still walk. We will march for freedom until we die. We will tell him that g o means go. He has no qualifications. He only has the vote which we gave him so since he doesn't know how to use it we will take it back."

"We are saying to Gairy and his ministers that we are not satisfied with them. They are using tax payers money to pay Secret Police to beat us and our children and anyone who finds fault with the way he is suppressing us. He is up against a stone wall. We are not budging. Anyone to move is Eric Matthew Gairy. Down with Gairy and his government. Up with freedom and justice. We want freedom in Grenada."

Christopher DeRiggs: Informed demonstrators that there would be no demonstration on the morrow - Tuesday - but on Wednesday they would demonstrate. Tuesday would be used to do effective planning. Thanked people and informed them of meeting of New Jewel Movement at 3 p.m. on Market Square.

Curtis Stuart: Told them that in the past people thought his Union had let them down, a feeling which he shared. However they would now be aware of the decision taken by the majority of people which was shown in the extent of the demonstration, the extent of people coming forward and rallying for justice. He warned them that his Union was strong. The Government could no longer say it was making no attempts. Government would have to do something. He warned them to expect anything from now on. He said, "We cannot take anymore. Where do we go from here.

There are over one thousand men at Mount Royal. We must therefore get ourselves ready. I know you are wiling to see this thing through. You cannot afford to turn back. We are not fighting for any individual. We are fighting for Grenada and Grenadians. Let us remain a united front. Let us show the world we will stand and go forward in the name of freedom, and justice. We are together and together we will stay. We will speak out because we are speaking for freedom. I want to leave this with you. I want to ask you to join together with me in Psalm 23. "The Lord is my Shepherd."

They all say the Psalm 23

He thanked them and asked them to pass the word around since there were no telephones (on strike) and warned them to go home early before it became dark and not be caught outside.

Mr. Johnson (Student): Exclaimed happiness because of the large crowd. Said he had been disappointed at 9 a.m. because of the size of the crowd but now he had regained his self-confidence due to the fact that they did not let him down. Said he had heard from someone that a good friend of his in the Police Force had been suspended. Said he wanted to tell the other people in the Police Force that tomorrow it might be their turn. Told them they were supposed to be of assistance to their people not to one man. He had done some serious thinking last night and had found out that there were more things for which he had to die than live.

He had no beautiful house nor important job to live for but he had his country to die for; he had no girl friend or wife to live for, but he had them, his brothers and sisters to die for. The only thing he had to give was his life and he was willing to give it. Said he was prepared to give his life so that things may be better for them and their children. For Freedom, justice and equality. Said he was willing to do that in order that oppression would not take over. He told them there was a point beyond which one could not go. One could take that much and no more. They had gone through the Mongoose Gang, Special Reserve Police, Reserve Squad, Secret Police - there were about 10 thousand police searching their houses -

INTERRUPTION

Voice says into the microphone - "I understand that if you look up the road now you will see them coming down. The Secret Police are coming. (Shouts) Brothers and sisters, keep your cool, keep your cool."

Hughes: "There are trucks from what I can see and I can see crowds of men jogging down from the direction of Mount Royal.

They are now preparing to keep the women in the centre and let the men be in front.

It is not known whether the men will attack or not. There are shouts from the platform for the men to stick together.

The jogging men are now coming down straight through the crowd. They are jogging, they do not appear to be armed. They are now going through being booed. I see no evidence of any violence. There are only men, no women. They are still moving. There must be perhaps about 500 of them moving right through the crowd. One man is carrying a broken iron pot. Going right through.

In the meantime the crowd is just looking on. The anti-government demonstrators are just looking on. I see no evidence of any violence of any kind. They are now completely through. I don't know where they are going.

They are going beyond around the wharf. There is a placard I cannot see what is on it. I see men running. I don't know what is happening down at that end. I see stones are being thrown. There seems to be some sort of a confrontation taking place now. I don't know where these stones are coming from.

Trucks are now moving out. The supposed pro-government supporters are now by Jonas, Brown [sic] and Hubbard Motor Department. There are stones from that direction. Stones and bottles and gunshot fire coming from that direction. Gunshot fire. There is a pitched battle in progress.

The road is now cleared in front of Otway House, but I still see bottles being thrown from the direction of what seems to be the pro-government section. I hear people shouting that they are being stoned. Bottles are still being thrown in the direction of Jonas, Brown and Hubbard.

I think I will move from where I am because stones and bottles are falling around me. People around me are throwing stones now. There is a group of 400 men. Don't know where the gunfire came from but there certainly was gunfire. Most of the crowd in front of Otway House is now in the direction in front of Hughes House. More gunfire.

The only police is a police woman walking and talking into a walkie-talkie. More police were here but they have disappeared. This seems to be a deliberate attempt to break up the meeting here. Stones and bottles still being thrown down in the Jonas, Brown and Hubbard Motor Department area. One policeman only. Crowd talking to him urging him to do something.

I see a jeep full of policemen now moving across by Grenada Telephone Company. A man nearly got touched [sic]. Two policemen with rifles making no effort to go forward. Crowd urging them to go forward to the men fighting by Jonas Brown and Hubbard, but no effort is made. There are three men with rifles. They have turned back towards the jeep. The crowd urges them to go forward where the bottle fight is taking place. The police are doing nothing. One has a revolver out. He points it at someone in the crowd. He puts in [sic] down again. Nothing is taking place except the stormy battle. The police will do nothing.

The jeep moves forward, going down in the direction of bottle fight, stops again, moves now towards the fight. It is in the centre of the fight. Stones and bottles in all directions. Gunfire. Police have driven right through. They have not stopped. Gunfire. Stones being thrown at show windows by Huggins and Co. by the supposed pro-government supporters. Police have driven right through and have not stopped. And there are bottles being thrown against the windows. One has received 8 or 9 hits and it hasn't smashed yet. The police have driven straight through and there is no policeman on the spot except two and an inspector who is doing nothing, just looking on. In the meantime, Huggins and Co. show windows are being bombarded with stones by these people who supposedly came down from Mount Royal a short while ago.

Now crowds are leaving here. It seems as though there is going to be another bottle fight. They are going to attack these people. A crowd has just been thrown overboard and all along the Waterfront there are stones being thrown at show windows in this area. The crowd is running back in this direction. It seems as though before the day is out there will be a pitched battle in St. George's between two opposing factions.

It all began about 10 minutes ago when a group of men came jogging down from Lucas Street from the direction of Mount Royal ran through the centre of the crowd outside Otway House, then there was gunfire, stone throwing and bottle throwing. Now I can see men moving up from the direction of lower down the wharf by Huggins and Co. where the pro-government people are moving back up.

Around Otway House there are still a lot of people milling around. Seems as though there is some apprehension that the bottle throwing will continue for at least until the police come back.

(I'll take this cassette off for a while)

There is a sea of broken bottles moving through the air and crashing among the cars and a 7-up truck is parked in the middle. Now the people from Otway House seem to be advancing on the government forces. They are going down throwing stones and are moving closer to them. There are some concrete things on the side of the road. They are being broken up to be used as stones in order to throw against the government forces, lower. I haven't seen anybody hurt, but it seems to be actually impossible from what is taking place that there won't be some casualties. Lots of cars in the area are being damaged and it would appear to me that after the events today, it would take a great deal in order to calm this situation to a point where law and order can obtain.

The 7-Up truck, apparently this was loaded with drinks and this is what the pro-government supporters were using. The truck is turning, has its back towards us. I don't know whether they will come in our direction or drive away. Has stopped. Men are still taking bottles from the truck and throwing in this area.

And from where I am standing on the balcony of Otway House I can see the crowd that were demonstrating this morning, one man has a cutlass. I hear gunshots. I see pro-government people coming closer from down on the wharf. There are more coming from the direction of Julian and Co. There must be in the actual fight up here about 20, 30, 40 maybe 100 and outside Otway House there are about 50 or 60.

In the other direction crowds of those demonstrators are lining the street all the way back to Empire Cinema out of stone and bottle throwing range. Things have quieted a little now, though there are still stones being thrown from one side to the other. Everybody seems to be holding their ground. The 7-up truck offers defence to pro-government men. I have to call them government men since they came down from Mount Royal.

The truck moves again and has gone forward about 30 or 40 ft. and has stopped again. There are stones again. Stones are still falling, bottles are still flying; the road is littered with glass ware. And stones are still going back and forth. It is amazing there are no policemen on the scene. There are no uniformed policemen anywhere - looking from Empire Cinema where the crowds are, past Telephone Company, past Cable and Wireless back down to Otway House, there is not a uniformed policeman in sight, and in the direction of the pro-government people I can see no policemen either.

A police landrover has stopped at the Cold Storage. One man with a rifle has come out. I see fire. The police are now firing in this direction. Three men with rifles. The police have now joined the men who were throwing bottles. I'm seeing people. Gun fire. There is now a pitched battle with gunfire taking place. Seems to be a great deal here at Otway House as the police have joined the men and are now firing in this direction. I see men pointing guns in this direction and firing while at the same time those men with the police are breaking glass windows, throwing stones and bottles at the glass windows.

Under the cover of the police rifles the pro-government people are advancing up the wharf in the direction of Otway House. In the front are three policemen with rifles along with men holding bottles, bottles with sweet drink. They are coming in this direction. Road outside has been cleared. I hear gunfire again. I am going to hide this cassette lest when they come here they take this cassette from me. The police are actually assisting the men who were throwing the bottles

I have taken the cassette off for a short while, I put it back in now

There are men trying to swim away from the wharf and the pro-government people are throwing bottles at them. Some of them are still in the water.

I see a policeman walking among pro-government people. Police seem to have joined these people. From where I am standing, I am looking obliquely through the window. A crowd of 200 or 300 men, uniformed police, some with rifles. Crowd is moving in this direction.

50 yards away from Otway House a uniformed police in front with rifle, turns around, says something to men behind him. The men have taken bottles, they are throwing them now.

They are shooting into Otway's establishment. I just saw a policeman shoot into Otway's establishment. They are shooting into the building. I can still see the police shooting into the crowd up by Cable and Wireless. It is a uniformed policeman, he has on a grey shirt and grey pants. There is still rifle fire outside.

Out here are 50 or 60 school children, women and men are . . . Watch out! Watch Out! They are stoning Otway House. They are now shooting at Otway House. Everybody keep down low. Keep down low, keep down low. They are now shooting at us. Keep calm, keep calm, everybody keep calm. Don't go to that window if possible. Don't panic. You are safer here than outside. Keep as low as you can. Just take it easy, keep as low as you can.

They all join together in saying the "Lord's Prayer."

..........

*Most likely the hymn was "Hold the Fort for I am Coming."

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