Richard Tropp Memo on Ryan Visit to Jonestown

There were two schools of thought within the Jonestown leadership about how the community should respond to Rep. Leo Ryan’s plans to visit. One was to maintain that Ryan had no authority to enter Jonestown, that the community was within its rights to deny him access, and that he should be barred from coming in. The second point of view acknowledged Ryan’s lack of authority, but emphasized that the community had hosted many visitors – including some who’d been dubious or hostile – and that everyone left impressed which what they’d seen. The people of Jonestown had nothing to hide, according to this second view, but it would seem that way – and more importantly, they said, the Concerned Relatives and other critics would spin it that way – if Ryan were denied access.

The debate had not resolved itself when Ryan’s delegation left Georgetown to fly to Port Kaituma on November 17, and the congressmen, the press and the accompanying relatives had to wait several hours while Temple lawyers Charles Garry and Mark Lane made final arrangements for Ryan to get past Jonestown’s front gate.

Richard Tropp apparently sided with those who argued for access. His undated memo offers a number of suggestions on how they would ensure Jonestown would show both well and honestly. As he writes halfway through the one-page document, “Our aim should not be merely to present a Clean and Neat Jonestown … but to educate this Congressman, to open his eyes to what we are doing here.” To do that would mean preparation and planning, and the memo presents a blueprint of those plans.

Richard Tropp Memo on Ryan Visit to Jonestown, RYMUR 89-4286-AA-1-x-1
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Last modified on October 22nd, 2013.
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