The Events of November 18, 1973
Paragraphs 128 thru 129. - An Examination in Detail [Part 30] - THE COMMISSIONER'S FINDINGS on the Nine Questions asked in para. 89 [Part C]
128. We formed the impression from listening to some of the witnesses involved in the Police Force, in the affairs of national security, and in the administration of justice, that they held the belief that the Ministry of National Security, or even a policeman, possesses an inherent power to overlook and by-pass the provisions of the Constitution whenever it is thought that "national security" warrants it. We fear also that such a notion of the precursor of tyranny.
129. Inspired by the high purposes of political independence Mr. Gairy became convinced that the activity of the New Jewel Movement was subversive to the State of Grenada. He said that he believed the Movement was responsible for the theft of 50 rifles from the armoury at Presentation College. The assessment of the Special Branch of the Police Force on November 12 was that -
"The current increased activities of the N.J.M. the daily campaigning and threats to take over Government pose a direct threat to the security of the State."
It is to be remembered also that the issue of The New Jewel for Friday, November 9, carried the following on its front page -
- Government guilty of 27 major crimes against the people
- Government to GO by November 18, 1973
- On a National Unity Council to supervise the change over of Government
- On the plans the New Government will carry out
- On the steps the people will take to remove the government after November 18, 1973
It was in that issue that the call was made on the people of Grenada to embark on a General Strike. Given that background it is clear what was the inspiration and what the action resolved upon.
While the dispositions undertaken by the Police Force for the events at Grenville on November 4 are recorded with appropriate detail in the Grenville police station diary, there is, in sharp contrast, a total absence of any documentation of the preparations for any events anticipated on November 18. The only police officer who appears to have undertaken precautionary measures requiring supporting personnel as Asst. Supt. Belmar.
The Commissioner of Police merely ordered that no members of the Police Force stationed at Grenville should be granted leave or station pass. Presumably, he had heard from the Special Branch on Saturday, November 17, about the meeting of businessmen. When he was informed by Insp. Andrews on November 18, he merely directed that the meeting be given the usual police cover to ascertain the identity of the persons attending. He had nothing to do with the decision to stop the meeting.
The only persons who claim to have surely had knowledge on Sunday, November 18 of the possible attack on the Grenville police station were the Hon. E.M. Gairy and Asst. Supt. Belmar. It is in this connection that the visit of Mr. Gairy to the Richmond Hill Prison became significantly important. The totality of the evidence points incontravertibly to the view that the decision to apprehend the members of the New Jewel Movement was made as soon as it was known that they were on their way to Grenville.
Parenthetically, it should be mentioned that the Prime Minister said intensive police surveillance was ordered from Saturday, November 17, with respect to the movements of Maurice Bishop, Kenrick Radix, Unison Whiteman and Selwyn Strachan. The evidence is that they left St. George's about 2:30 p.m. (14:30). They arrived in Grenville about 3:00 p.m. (15:00).
Mr. Gairy visited the prison at 2:40 p.m. (14:40) and Belmar telecommunicated with Insp. Andrews about 3:00 p.m. (15:00). Mr. Gairy expected that arrests were going to be made that afternoon and Asst. Supt. Belmar faithfully ensured those expectations by - (a) causing the meeting not to be held (b) by causing Insp. Andrews to prevent the Six men from leaving Grenville or moving too far from their cars before this arrival, and finally, upon his arrival, by (c) engineering a riot for which, if necessary, he had men on stand-by since the day before, or at latest, from the early hours of November 18.
Having arrived in Grenville, he encouraged the indiscriminate discharge of firearms by police aides in the street in order to create terror among members of the public and was thus able, by an attitude of bullying, and simulated bravado, to aid and abet the cruel beating of Bishop, Strachan and Whiteman by the unruly crowd of police aides whom he had hand-picked.
Mr. H.M. Bhola deserves high commendation for refusing to allow the three others to be removed from his premises until he had Belmar's promise that they would be taken away unharmed. Mr. Bhola impressed us as a truthful but frightened man. Wherever his evidence conflicted with that of Belmar we preferred to accept his.