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 170 thru 171. - THE RIOT ON JANUARY 21, 1974 [PART 16] - The evidence of Lennard Charles

170. P.C. 289 Lennard Charles gave a graphic description of the events on January 21, 1974. On that day he was attached to the Sans Souci sub-station and was one of the men under the charge of Sgt. 131 Joseph who set off on mobile patrol in the landrover driven by P.C. Myers shortly before the riot on the Carenage. He had also observed the arrival of the men at Mount Royal.

According to him "There was quite a large amount of men from, I say apparently, all walks of life appearing, they came on Government truck, some come on bus, some come riding motor bike."

Evidently, the Sans Souci sub-station is within earshot of Mount Royal.

About 10:30 a.m. Charles who claimed to be an entertainer, said - "I could have heard there was very loud applause going on up at the Prime Minister's residence, like hand clapping and you know when you're enjoying a good audience."

According to Charles, sometime around midday, about 500 men left the Prime Minister's residence descending the hill singing a song "Jewel behave yourself otherwise they go charge us for murder." At that point Sgt. Joseph said "look, all you men on reserve join the transport, we going into town on a mobile patrol." Charles boarded the landrover and stood on the tail piece. Among the policemen in the party were constables, White, [Private], [Private], Roberts and Myers who was the driver.

Lennard Charles is an articulate person and gave the following evidence without any prompting.

A. "I won't know what instruction he had, but he parked the transport on the left side of the street, when we reached by the Fire Station, near to the Rescuer. And while I stood up there, I noticed in front of me I noticed there was a meeting which was in progress, I would say that it was being carried on by the Unions of the country, you know, and whilst there you could at least hear the prancing and the big noise coming down the street of the same men who I knew was coming down the street because they looked there.

At this point, the people who were listening to the meeting started - you know, you could see they started to get timid and everybody was looking towards Tyrrel Street. At this point I noticed that the men come out from Tyrrel Street and they came on to Bruce Street - as they reach coming down Tyrrel Street, they turned right and they were proceeding towards where the meeting had been held.

The people who were there listening the meeting and the children started to scamper, you know, you could see that they were coward because the men, when they see these people there with the meeting, I think they not crazy, because carnival style, they were jumping man, like they going in for something, this is how I look at it.

At this point, I could have recognised the voice of Lester De Souza, alias, 'Green Face', he went on the microphone and he said to the people who were listening to the meeting 'do not run, stand aside and allow them to pass.' The women and children on one side and the men on the other side. This, I could have seen where I was standing, the people really, they just wasn't so.

Well, the Secret Police, I would call them because I understand they are Secret Police, they went through the crowd of people and they singing the same song 'Jewel behave yourself otherwise they go charge us for murder.'

Just as the tail end of the Secret Police was, I would say eradicating themselves, completing the journey through, I don't know what really happened, because I could not have seen what took place. There was a scramble, you could have seen, and then everybody started running and then the men and them who were in the Secret Police they turned back.

They were coming back, the Sergeant gave instruction 'everybody jump on this transport.' I jumped on the transport, I stood my grounds, same place where I were, the tail-end of the transport, while we were proceeding towards the main incident, where the scene is, I could remember as soon as ah reach by Mr. Salhab Garage, there were a business man by the name of Mr. Woodroffe and another one by Cleveland Donald, they shout to the driver, because as you know, I wasn't driving, is he they was speaking to, 'you all go dey and stop them people, you en see they want to kill everybody?' Well, when we approached the scene the driver didn't stop. He drove the transport through the whole incident and he went straight up to Central Police Station. Parked the transport in Central yard. Sergeant 131 Joseph came out the transport and he went to the Commissioner of Police.

I won't know, sorry, I don't think he was Commissioner of Police at that time, that is A.S.P. [Osbert] James, sorry, and A.S.P. James said 'man what is going on on the Carenage?' He say, 'Sir, I doh know nuh.' He say 'and you don't know what is going on there?' He say 'sir, them S.R.P. come from up Mt. Royal, and they passing on the Warf dey and them Jewel men and them start something, I don't know.'

So Mr. James asked 'well, what you did?' He say, 'well I en do nothing, sir.' He say 'well, what you mean? You with a transport with all this amount of men, everybody has a firearm, and you see riot or whatever taking place on the Carenage and you leave and come up to the station here, well what happen?' Well, there was no explanation to the question from him.

Then I looked around and I saw ASP Francis, he was standing there, there was ASP Christopher, there was Insp. Raymond and many other Sergeants and Acting Inspectors were out there.

I hear Mr. James say 'look all you jump on the transport and go down on the Carenage and see what's going on, you hear.' I, well I'm really not afraid of them, you know, so I going to talk. I say 'listen nuh, me en going down dey if none of them big boss on going down dey, because they always want to push little fellars on and I en getting involved in nothing.' I was supported by many of the constables, you could have heard the voice 'me en going neither.'

Well, Mr. [Philbert] Christopher, he went and sit down in a light green Volkswagon - no top, and as he sat there many constables went and they get on to the transport along with him. They had firearms and I see that he had respirators and they had tear sprays, and he left.

When he left i still stood my grounds because the transport I've been travelling on they didn't make no move to leave. Then Mr. Francis came and he sat down in front of the transport 3378. The driver was inside, inspector Raymond sat near to him and that is the transport I was supposed to be on.

Then all the constables who left Sans Souci Police Station, there were other constables from that Police Station who board that transport, and if I would remember as I say, the same set of men who were on the transport all arrived, we went to the Carenage.

We arrived on the Carenage, the driver parked the transport next to Pressey Super Market and as he parked the transport there everybody disembarked from the transport. I noticed Mr. Christopher was there and I noticed the police were running all about, everybody doing their own thing. At this point, I notice there - because I didn't leave that the first time I was there - when I returned the second time I saw there was a sweet drink truck parked right near to General Trader, anywhere around there, and these fellow, the secret police I mean, were using the sweet drinks to their advantage of throwing it into Otway's Building, and possibly anybody who they catch hiding.

I mean the people who were listening to the meeting, they were using those sweet drinks to their advantage. As a result of this, there was a man, I don't know his name, if he is alive now he is lucky, he run from some where in the back of Otway's Funeral Agency and as he came out there was a ..........of bottles all over his body, he dived in the sea and when he dived there were still bottles. The whole, entire place where he went into the water was really red with blood. Somebody in the crowd there, it is a secret police because I could tall .....I don't know the fellows' names but I could recognise them if I see them.

As I say I know one fellow particularly, this is Moslyn Bishop, he had a .25 in his hand and there were other secret police, one who drives one of the Government trucks, he had another firearm in his hand, and there were one or two of the others, you could have seen them with it because they didn't fraid. You see the police there and they had this firearm in their hands. When this man had been beaten in the water, I say he was going to die because as he go down he come up for a little breath and then somebody threw bottles [line missing] strength, he made it to a small boat and he went to the boat and then he sit down.

At this point, I look around I saw Mr. Francis was standing there as per usual, 15 ft. behind him was Mr. Christopher and there was Insp. Raymond. A woman, she apparently was an indian or a spanish descendant came out from the same yard where that fellow came out. Apparently, you know the secret police were taking the people out, taking them out. And some of the fellow when they saw the woman, she had a black bag on her shoulder, and fellows start to pelt bottles and you could see they catching her straight into her back. Well I don't know she went back into the back of the building and I don't know whether she is there still.

Q. Yes?

A. As a rule of this there were bottles lighted. I would say I call them flambeau, but there they call them lighted tear smoke. They were coming from not inside of Otway's building or on top of the building, but you could have seen them skyrocketing over the building and descend over the Liat office and falling in the road where the secret police and I were also standing.

At this point, Insp. Raymond instruct me - I looked down to the building which was Otway building. There was tear smoke coming from the windows and you could have seen many activities taking place because there was police in uniform, you know plenty of them, then a large amount as I say again the secret police, they all that particular building, activities were taking place, Insp. Raymond then instruct me, he said, "Listen, Darkie, don't go down by that building. People who are standing around by the Empire and so forth if they see you you know they will say that police taking part.' I obeyed his instruction. As usual, I had my .38 in my waist. I didn't decide to take it out because I didn't know what I taking it out for.

Well, at this point, I saw a large gathering, you know men, and then I looked into the crowd, I take a little peep, I saw Mr. Hughes being surrounded by secret police, and everybody say who have bottles, who have sticks, who have all kind of things, "Give me a crack, let we straighten him out." At one time, definitely I heard somebody say, I can't say who was the person, "We get Bishop, let we take he one time." I don't know who say it.

Well, I look way down the road and then there was a constable his name is Const. Elms, he was running from the direction of the building, flinging his hands like this, I made about two steps to him and i met him on the half and I said "What is wrong with you?" He say "Man, look, a man, inside there cut me with a cutlass." I say, "Well you know who cut you?" He did not reply. I say "Well go to the hospital and dress it." Well, he disappeared.

At this point, I looked again, I see a transport and there were so many people around the transport. I still listening to Inspector, not going forward at all. Me aint going there. He is there and i noticed all of the big boys there playing back. Well, I playing back too.

171. It may be that the element which primarily moved Lennard Charles to give in such graphic detail the evidence he did was a desire to embarrass officers and the higher ranks of the Police Force in which, whether justifiably or not, he had become a frustrated member. It may have been worthier if he had been moved by considerations of public duty and an endeavour to let the truth be told as an obligation in the discharge of public service. But whatsoever may have been the impulses which stirred within him, it is evident that he was there and that his recollection of the events is corroborated by many other witnesses. As might be seen in due course, his was perhaps the most acutely accurate recollection of all the witnesses whose sole support was their unaided memory.

Back: Duffus 165 thru 169

Next: Duffus 172

Duffus Contents     Home Page: Index