The Grenada Revolution Online

Major Events During the Time
of the People's Revolutionary Government

The PRG faced extraordinary challenges:

Queens Park Bombing

On Thursday 19 June 1980 at 15:05 hours during a Butler-Strachan Heroes Day rally in Queen's Park Stadium, north of St. George's, a bomb was apparently placed under the podium. Seated on the raised platform were Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, Minister of Labor, Works and Communication Selwyn Strachan, Minister of Agriculture Unison Whiteman, Minister of Education George Louison, Minister of Health and Housing Norris Bain, Commander of the People's Revolutionary Army (PRA) Hudson Austin, Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon, the Cuban Ambassador Julián Rizo, and foreign guests.

Thousands of people attended the rally which was to pay tribute to Tubal Uriah Butler and Alister Strachan. Butler was a strong union leader from Grenada in Trinidad and Strachan was an activist NJM youth murdered in 1973 by the Mongoose Gang. It was a national half-day holiday.

According to a report in the Grenada Newsletter there was a Military Parade - Salute - Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and Governor General Sir Paul Scoon - after the ceremony, the official party took seats in the pavilion.

Chairman of rally was [McGodden Kerensky] 'Cacademo' Grant, official platform chairman. "Grant began his address and was speaking for just over 11 minutes when, at 3:05 p.m., the bomb exploded - est. 1,000 persons in pavilion building."

Two schoolgirls died (a third, injured, died later). Approximately 100 people were injured.

Child Victims of Queens Park Bombing
Photo by Arthur Winner ©1980

Three innocents were killed - Laurice Humphrey and Laureen Phillip, and later Bernadette Bailey.

A portion of the stands erupted in a shattering explosion. One source explains that the thick cement of the platform threw the bomb force into the stand. Another source states the bomb had been placed well away from the leaders and in such a way that the main force of the explosion was downward into the ground.

According to Brizan, “The bomb was found to be a sophisticated time device, a technology previously unknown to the majority of Grenadians.”

The repercussions were swift and powerful.

Secretary for Information Phyllis (Mrs. Bernard) Coard commented that 'this type of technology is alien to Grenada.' This may not have been necessarily true. There had been a Montreal contractor in 1975-1976 instructing students in St. Patrick's on the use of explosive devices. Military training in Guyana and other sessions most likely included working with explosives and means of detonation.

The Death of Stran Phillip

A massive reaction by the PRG followed. Members, supposedly, of the People's Revolutionary Army, with their Commander-in-Chief Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, found their way to Stran Phillip's home in Mt. Airy. Stran Phillip, who had taken part in the 13 March, 1979 coup, was considered, by that time, a ‘counter-revolutionary’ by the revolutionary government. Phillip wrote an undated document titled The Truth of the Revolution that presents his point-of-view.

Reports are that Phillip was shot in the leg and surrendered, but died of nineteen gunshot wounds. It has been determined from all reports that Strachan Phillip was shot to death by Keith "Pumphead" Hayling, a Political Lieutenant in the PRA who was himself executed in the fateful lineup at Fort Rupert.

One reporter from inside Richmond Hill Prison writes that because of the unique acoustics of the site, prisoners could hear the gunshots over Bishop's ‘live’ radio program from Mount Airy. The detained and imprisoned journalist was soon joined by another round-up of detainees.

At 20:30 hours, Prime Minister Bishop gave a 55-minute radio speech, which began,

“Today, imperialism struck its most savage, its most brutal, its most cowardly blow against our Revolution. Today a monstrous crime was committed by imperialism and its local agents . . .”

"New Martyrs, New Heroes, New Patiots" is the name of the speech. In that speech, Maurice Bishop said:

"Acting on information which we received in Queen's Park, and also going on previous surveillance of Strachan Phillip and his tiny minority band of counter revolutionaries, our security forces went to arrest Strachan Phillip tonight and they were greeted with a hail of bullets, gun fire all over the place. Our soldiers, our security forces had to duck and run for their lives at first, and then of course they fought back. And up to when I left to come down here to make this address that fight was still going on. That battle of ur forces, of ourpeople in uniform against the forces of counter revolution was still being waged.

We must be conscious of this because something that you do not yet know, which I will say tonight, is that we have firm evidence of a direct link between these local counter revolutionaries and a number of other counter revolutionaries and agents of imperialism residing abroad, some in countries not too far from here. We have a fair amount of details of the plans of these elements.

And what we say to them is, let today be a warning, that whenever they choose to come to land in our country to try to turn back the People's Revovlution they are going to be wiped out. They are going to be dealt with without mercy. The same lack of mercy that today they showed when they planted their bomb, that same lack of mercy, that same firmness, but on this occasion revolutionary firmness, will be used to deal with them."

In his radio address, Bishop named names of counter-revolutionaries on Grenadian soil. He also implicated the CIA and the United States of having worked out “a plan of destabilisation, a plan of assassination, a plan of bringing terror to our people.”

The Queen's Park incident precipitated the passing of Prevention of Terrorism Act, People's Law 46, the Terrorism (Prevention) Law of [September] 1980. You could be tried, but in a court with a judge and no jury. Death was the penalty for terrorism with explosives.

Four were arrested and in November of 1982, all were convicted and sentenced to death by Justice Satrohan Singh. Those four were Miss Grace Augustine, Messrs. Russell Budhlall, Kenneth Budhlall and Layne Phillip. One defendant was acquitted. By the time of October 1983, when the United States seized Grenada, sentences were not carried out. The four were given a pardon by the Grenadian Government.

Many questions remain about the tragedy at Queen's Park and the death of Strachan Phillip.

Maurice Bishop went immediately on the air with a national radio broadcast on Radio Free Grenada. As he was speaking, the armed forces were involved in the incident at Stran Phillip's home. The transcript of Bishop's talk about the day's tragedies is found at New Martyrs, New Heroes, New Patriots.

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