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Forgotten, but historically important (Cont’d)

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While Georgetown and Kingstown showed relative calm by Tuesday morning, disturbances continued in the Campden Park – Chauncey area. This actually started late on Monday afternoon and continued next morning. Some of the participants were persons who had, through curiosity, gone into Kingstown when they heard news of the rioting.{{more}} But what sparked rioting in Campden Park was the news that John de Souza, a shopkeeper and poultry farmer of Portugese extract, had lent bullets to Syl Defreitas, a member of the Volunteers. The cry was that he was lending bullets to shoot black people. All this must be seen against the tension created by the Italian invasion of Abyssinia/Ethiopia. Meetings had previously been held in Kingstown protesting the invasion, with persons actually volunteering to go and fight with the Ethiopians. Albert T Marryshow of Grenada even addressed one of those meetings. Persons went daily to the Cable Board to update themselves on the invasion that they so strongly condemned.

John Sardine, a shopkeeper of Chauncey, reported on remarks he claimed to have heard. “We are the Abyssinians, the white men are the Italians. We will kill them all when we begin.” “King George won’t rule the world when we start our war.” Similar sentiments were expressed elsewhere. In Cane Garden, Mr Hayward had reported on a statement allegedly made by Martin Durham, believed to be the leader of the group operating in that area – “We are the Abyssinians, the ‘white men’ are the Italians. We chop off the ‘white man’s’ head tonight.”

In that atmosphere, the news, true or not, that De Souza had lent bullets to Syl Defreitas created anger. The stoning of De Souza’s shop started on Monday afternoon and continued on Tuesday, with his home also being attacked and the shop looted. De Souza had to use the river behind his home to get to the bay, where a boat, belonging to the manager of the Campden Park estate, took him to Kingstown.

On receipt of the news in Kingstown on Tuesday morning, a 19-man party of Special Constables and Volunteers was sent to the area. They met telephone poles lying on the ground and telephone wires cut. The stoning of De Souza’s shop had ended by that time, but the squad received its share of stoning that stopped only when they began to retaliate with gunfire. On being told that the group involved in the rioting had moved on to Chauncey, they attempted to follow, only to be attacked by stones from a neighbouring hill. The use of gunfire led to more stoning until four of the rioters were wounded.

On their way back to Kingstown, they were forced to stop at the Campden Park Bridge to clear the wires that were placed there, one of the members of the squad having been struck on his arm. At Shop Rock, Lowmans, a broken culvert and fallen telephone pole required their attention. The four wounded persons were taken to the hospital and the ambulance ordered to collect one who died in the confrontation. There was no indication of any activity north of Chauncey, as was reported by a motor launch that was sent to that area.

There were two characters that stood out during the rioting. In the Campden Park – Chauncey area, Dan Morgan evaded the police for some time. A warrant was issued for his arrest on November 12, but he was not captured until December 24. He became something of a folk hero, while at the same time driving fear among the people. In any event, the authorities got little support from the community because of their distrust of the police. The police could not identify Morgan and had on occasion come near to him without recognizing him. Morgan, along with two other colleagues, Clifford Sutherland and Peter McDowall, had little difficulty monitoring the police because of the presence among them of English officers. Police regulations stipulated that all armed police parties had to operate under officers of commissioned ranks, at that time being all British.

Morgan impressed persons with his knife throwing ability, which he fine-tuned on trees in the area and with each failed attempt to capture him, his prestige grew. He eventually fell victim to a tip-off to the police and according to the police report, was shot during an encounter. He was picked up and taken to the hospital, but died soon after. George McIntosh had always insisted that he was shot while in police custody.

The other notorious character was Lem Williams, who was arrested for his leading role in the Georgetown riots. He spent some time in gaol before being released. He had for 15 years been a chauffeur for Claude Hadley, proprietor of the Mount William estate. Williams was annoyed that Hadley had made no attempt to bail him. He became angered when he reported to work and was told his return had to await the result of his trial. On December 16, Williams bought some arsenic. He got into Hadley’s home, hid until Hadley approached, at which time he used a hatchet to bludgeon him to death. He

followed this up by putting arsenic into some rum, which he drank, and died that same evening. Hadley died two days later.

Six persons were killed, three during the riots and three immediately after. Among those killed were two women. One hundred and sixty nine persons were arrested, which required the use of the Fort and Cotton ginnery as temporary gaols. 45 men and five women were sentenced, the sentences running concurrently.

This episode in our history is one which we need to know more about and to learn whatever lessons it offers.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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