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A survivor of the Green Bay massacre 34 years ago is crying out to the Government for assistance, even as he declared that he had forgiven the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), whose soldiers shot dead five other men at the army’s firing range in the hills of Hellshire, St Catherine, on January 5, 1978.

Delroy Anthony Griffiths, 58, one of three survivors of the brutal onslaught, and the only one who still lives in Jamaica, told the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview last week that he was not bitter with the JDF and the Government, but wants his own situation to be given urgent attention.

GRIFFITHS… I want some support to do some buying and selling

Four other men from the Central Kingston inner-city community of Southside escaped the shooting and lived to tell how they were lured to the JDF shooting range with the promise of jobs, but ended with bullets coming at them instead.

Nowadays, Griffiths, who is called ‘Green Bay’, among other names, by those who know him and understand the history of the event, hustles to make a living by his own admission. But the ends do not always meet.

“Government should do something special for the people who survived Green Bay. They should be living easy. Government should be giving them everything,” Griffiths said.

“That was wickedness. I don’t know why they killed the men. War gun come out, come kill man after you say you going give him work? The army bring that out. A joke that, boss! We should have everything from travelling allowance to everything. It look like the Government take us for fools,” he said.

The Southside resident buys and sells items to supplement the money that he gets from his five children, all based overseas.

He also benefits from contributions from business people in the downtown Kingston area, including Observer director and head of the Bashco and MegaMart chain of stores, Gassan Azan Jnr.

“Mr Bashco (Azan) help me a lot,” Griffiths said. “Apart from that, I buy some little ‘ray ray’ things when I have money, and sell them back.

“You have some people who I can go to and they will give me a thing because they ‘rate’ me. There are people who will lend me even a $2,000 and when money come (from overseas) I pay them first, because I will tell them me nah borrow from no hungry belly people and I don’t want anybody to run me down,” he said.

“Some people mek up noise if I borrow from them and they don’t get it back right away. Times rough with me. I want some support to do some buying and selling. I am trying to behave myself,” Griffiths said, referring to a desire not to steal again, having spent time in prison for such acts.

“I don’t like to sit down not doing anything. Anytime I sit down I feel miserable,” he said. “I also want somewhere to live for myself. I live with family now, and my family is nice, but I don’t like to hitch up where family is.

“Politicians don’t give me anything. If they even want to give me anything, it wouldn’t happen, because as I wake up I gone to town (downtown), I can’t take to sit on the corner. I have done too much of that,” he added.

At the end of an inquest into the massacre, a court awarded survivors $5,500, which Griffiths scoffed at as an insult to him.

“People were saying to us ‘oonu nah get no money’, so when the time came for us to get money, they gave us $5,500, and I just took it and threw it in my youth hand to go to Germany to become a soldier. Is fool dem tek people for,” he fumed.

“They used to give the children of those killed some money until they cut it off,” he added.

The emotional scars of Green Bay remain etched in him and he vividly recalled the events of the day that forever changed his life and those of the 10 other men who went there, from an initial group of 14 that had committed to making the trip up to a day before.

“I still screw (get angry) whenever I think about my friends who died over Green Bay, but I have forgiven the army and the Government, although they could do more for me. I don’t get no help. I should get looked after good and not depend on what my youth them giving me,” he said.

“I still thank father God that I am still here.

“I don’t have any bad feelings against the army now… no bitterness towards them, because if anything they have to protect us when it comes to certain things,” he said.

However, he is still bitter about the words uttered by former National Security Minister Dudley Thompson, who assumed portfolio responsibility weeks after the incident.

Thompson, who died in January this year, aged 95, made the infamous statement ‘No angels died at Green Bay’ in the aftermath of the event, for which his People’s National Party Administration was severely criticised.

Thompson, who also served as a diplomat to several African nations, and who was a brilliant lawyer, was out of order and disrespectful, Griffiths said.

“He was no angel either,” Griffiths hit back.

“See him dead and nobody no shoot him. It was a wicked act and he was more wicked than some of those men who went to Green Bay, because those men just lived off football,” Griffiths said.

Thompson, however, apologised publicly, twice, for the statement.

Asked whether he thinks there could there be another incident like that at Green Bay, Griffiths said: “Bwoy, to how the time running wicked, anything can happen. Time a get wicked. Nuff more people will die just so. Right now I don’t even stand up at South in a crowd again, because a man will go out there and do a thing and others don’t know. You see when a man come and see him victim, him just start shooting and you don’t know that other people in the way. That’s how people die all the while.”

Griffiths also spoke about his incarcerations.

“You must try not to go jail now, because you no must come back out,” he said. “The first time me go GP (General Penitentiary) and stay so (posing) in my Clarks (shoes) and stripes I just hear a warder say, ‘hey bwoy, tek you hand out a yuh pocket, ah nuh your own again. Me just take out me hand, because a dem rule over deh.”

He admitted that he grew up with some notorious badmen, including Claudie Massop, who ran West Kingston as its ‘Don’ for several years, before he was killed on Spanish Town Road while he was on his way from a horse-racing meet at Caymanas Park.

Griffiths, while citing personal deficiencies, economically and socially, has no real health issues and credits his physical activities and spiritual leanings for that.

“I am well fit. The amount of walking I do in the daytime, through the buy and sell business, me nuh want no more exercise than that,” he said.

“Is one thing, me glad me never dead at Green Bay. I praise God and say me glad, but that’s how it go already.

“At night-time I say, God guide and protect me and everyone else around me. Some people only wait until something happen and then dem say, ‘Lord God’. Some people don’t even say their prayers. I don’t read the Bible, but I make sure I say my prayers every night. I am a God-bless man and my children are God-blessed,” Griffiths said.

It has not been all doom and gloom for Griffiths though, as he sometimes gets celebrity-like attention when he travels downtown.

“Right now, me walking on the road down King Street and a hear ‘rrrrr’ (screeching sound) and see pure big neck police push out them head and say ‘Green Bay, go cross the road,’ and no car can’t move until me go cross. Dem time deh me walk even slower. Some people must be saying this man is prime minister,” he said.

“Every police officer know me. They will say, ‘a him name Green Bay, you know. A him escape over so,’” Griffiths said.

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