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July 29-30: Who’s on Second and Third?

During the week of July 29, I sat in on a meeting held in segregation between Deputy Warden Doug Richmond, Unit Manager Lin Wallin, and Jimmy Whitmore. Mr. Richmond advised Mr. Whitmore that the RCMP and CSC investigation was dealing with two different theories regarding his involvement in the murder -- one being that he had played a peaceful mediation role, the other that he was the instigator of the crime. Until the institution was debriefed on the results of the investigation, they would be maintaining Mr. Whitmore’s segregation. Mr. Richmond also indicated staff had received information that Mr. Whitmore’s safety in the general population would be in jeopardy.

Mr. Whitmore responded that surely the evidence on the videotape validated one theory and negated the other. Both Mr. Richmond and Mr. Wallin had seen only portions of the video, but those pieces suggested that Mr. Whitmore was going from group to group in what seemed to be a mediation role. Mr. Wallin acknowledged that in the years he had known him at Kent, Mr. Whitmore’s role had been one of mediation, and that on many occasions his involvement had prevented violence. (Mr. Whitmore was not told at this meeting that the RCMP had obtained a statement from another prisoner alleging that, on the evening prior to the death of Christian Grenier, Mr. Whitmore had said, "the Frenchmen are dead tomorrow. I’m not going to do it, but I will get someone to kill them." Mr. Whitmore became aware of this allegation only several months later.)

Addressing the issue of his own safety, Mr. Whitmore said there were elements in the population who were quite happy to see him in segregation and would like him shipped out of the institution. Although it was in their interests to "talk up" the danger he would encounter, to ensure his continued segregation and thereby consolidate their power in the institution, the serious threats in prison came not from the loudest mouths but from those who kept their intentions close to their chests. Mr. Richmond said he would continue to evaluate the reliability of his information.

Later that afternoon, I met with Darryl Bates and Alan Nicol. Mr. Nicol summed up what he had been told by C unit: "You don’t kill a Frenchman in Kent." The way he read the situation, regardless of Jimmy Whitmore’s actual involvement in the incident, some in C unit were holding him responsible and saying they would move against him if he came back. There had been a real hardening of attitudes in C unit against all prisoners believed to be involved in the attack on Mr. Grenier and Mr. Forget, and he could not say with any confidence that the threats were paper ones. Neither he nor Mr. Bates felt comfortable telling Jimmy Whitmore he could safely come out into the population, if what he risked was having a knife in his back or facing another trip to the SHU for defending himself. I asked whether Claude Forget’s return to the population might contribute to a peaceful resolution. Both Mr. Bates and Mr. Nicol thought it would; they had relatively good relations with Mr. Forget and felt his attitude might be less inflexible then those of his brothers in C unit.

On Wednesday, July 30, I met with Dan Kane, head of the CSC national investigation team, who gave me his assessment of the situation. A large quantity of Valium had come into the institution at a social on July 6. The pills were destined for prisoners in the francophone group, but most of them never reached C unit. Some information suggested that the person the drugs were destined for was Christian Grenier, although this might be a case of using the dead man to insulate others. Because this posed a potential source of conflict, there was a meeting between prisoners from A unit and C unit to settle this issue and it was resolved. The francophone prisoners decided they would not take retaliative action for the non-delivery of the drugs but would treat it as a debt to be made good in the future. The investigation team was satisfied that what followed in the yard was not related to the undelivered Valium. Instead, the team related it to a confrontation between Kenny Makichuk and Cacane Tremblay which had occurred earlier on the day of the murder. In the yard, Mr. Makichuk had threatened Mr. Tremblay with a knife and said he was prepared to kill him. Mr. Makichuk’s subsequent apology had been rebuffed. He went back to A unit to muster support, and after lunch a number of prisoners from A unit armed themselves and went out to the yard in anticipation of a fight with the prisoners in C unit. However, because the C unit prisoners believed there had been a resolution of the issue involving the Valium, only Mr. Forget, Mr. Grenier, and Mr. Shropshire went out to the yard. Some information suggested that other C unit heavies were high on drugs that day and that was why they did not go outside. Mr. Makichuk was told by another prisoner from A unit that the French Canadians had armed themselves with baseball bats, and at that point he attacked Mr. Forget. When Mr. Grenier came to Mr. Forget’s assistance, Mr. Makichuk stabbed him in the chest. Mr. Simpson, Mr. Makichuk’s partner, stabbed Mr. Grenier in the back.

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