Warning Signs of a Revolution (excerpt)
In that same speech, Gairy went on to talk about his own entry into the political field in Grenada in the 1950s and his fight against colonialism. He spoke about what he saw as the needs of the country. At the same time in light of the potential situation of unrest, he indicated his plans for the preparedness of law enforcement bodies and said the following:
“…I cannot boast of having the patience of Dr. Eric Williams. It is said that when your neighbour’s house is on fire, keep on wetting your own house. We are now doubling the strength of our Police Force; we are getting in almost unlimited supplies of new and modern equipment…my government will not sit by and allow individuals or groups of individuals to agitate or incite, to promulgate or to promote any racial disharmony in this peaceful ‘Isle of Spice’ – the Caribbean Garden of Eden.
Today Barbados is providing strong legislative powers with heavy penalties to curtail any such acts…law and order will always reign supreme in this great little state of ours…The Opposition referred to my recruiting criminals in a reserve force. To this I shall not say yea or nay… I am proud of the ready response to my call on Grenadians, regardless of their record, to come and join in the defence of my government and in the maintenance of law and order in their country. Indeed, hundreds have come and some of the toughest and roughest roughnecks have been recruited. Every man engaged in any form of subversive activity is being watched… I am calling upon all responsible Grenadians to band ourselves together in preparation against threat of Black Power or any other subversive movement that may wish to lift its ugly head in the presence of a peaceful and quiet country…”10
In those excerpts of Gairy’s speech in 1970, Gairy indicated to the world that his government would be prepared to rely on a large measure of support from some of the “toughest and roughest roughnecks” that were recruited. It was a significant and unfortunate statement that would come to haunt him and to tarnish all of his subsequent regimes. The opposition forces used that speech for their benefit and were able to put the blame on Gairy’s “roughnecks” for many unpleasant incidents in Grenada during 1972 through 1974. The alleged activities by these thugs are what the international community heard and read about during 1970 through 1979. It generally would have been concluded that Gairy, his government, and the Grenadian police, in collusion with thugs, deliberately and lawlessly engaged in brutality and oppression of the citizens during those years. While recent information confirms that the opposition forces orchestrated many incidents, a bad picture had been painted with respect to the rule in Grenada under Gairy in the early 1970s.