Jonestown Petition to Block Rep. Ryan

The efforts to block Rep. Leo Ryan from entering Jonestown were launched on several fronts. The Board of Directors of Peoples Temple passed a formal resolution, and the Jonestown leadership issued a statement to the press protesting the congressman’s intent. In addition, the people of Jonestown signed a petition to the same effect.

The text of the petition does not accompany the signatures. However, according to the FBI cover sheet, it read:

Resolution of the Community

Many of us, the undersigned residents of Jonestown, Guyana, have been visited here by friends and relatives. However, we have not invited and do not care to see Congressman Ryan (supporter of military aid to the Rinochat [Pinochet] regime of Chile), media representatives, members of a group of so-called “concerned citizens”, or any other persons who may be travelling with, or associated with, any of those persons.

Dated: This 9th day of November, 1978, Jonestown, Guyana.

The name of almost every adult in Jonestown is on this petition, and most of them died on November 18.

After Larry Layton’s first trial in connection with Leo Ryan’s death ended with a hung jury and a mistrial, the government asked for a retrial. The only significant difference in evidence in the two trials, according to an attorney who worked with Layton, was the introduction of this petition. The petition demonstrated that there was a community-wide conspiracy to kill the congressman, the government said, and Layton’s signature on the petition – page 8, middle column, second signature – proved he was part of that conspiracy.

Layton was convicted on four counts, including conspiracy to kill a United States Congressman. He served a total of 19 years in Guyana and U.S. jails before he was released on parole in 2002.

This is the best available copy of this document.

Jonestown Petition to Block Rep. Ryan, RYMUR 89-4286-571

Last modified on October 22nd, 2013.
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