0 140505Z MAR 79
FM SACRAMENTO (89-191) (P)
TO DIRECTOR FBI IMMEDIATE
SAN FRANCISCO (89-250) IMMEDIATE
Re Sacramento tel to Bureau and San Francisco March 13, 1979.
At approximately 7:20 PM, Modesto, California PD officers dispatched to Motel Six, Modesto, where People’s Temple (PT) member, Michael Joseph Prokes, WM [white male], DOB May 31, 1947, 5’9″, 155 lbs, 1701 Concord, Modesto, had shot himself in head with .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, two inch barrel, bearing serial number 979561.
Prokes had arranged with various news media on March 12, 1979, a news conference to be held at above location at 7:00 PM, March 13, 1979. Prokes completed reading five pages of prepared press release when he excused himself and went into bathroom,
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where he had apparently secreted the above weapon and placed a suicide note which read as follows:
“Don’t accept enyon’s [anyone’s] analysis or hypothesis that this was the result of despondency over Jonestown. I could live with ‘despondency’.
“Nor was it an act of a ‘disturbed’ or ‘programmed’ mind in case anyone tried to pass it off as that.
“The fact is that a person can rationally choose to die for reasons that are just, and that’s what I did.
“If my death doesn’t prompt another look at what brought the end of Jonestown then life wasn’t worth living anyway”.
Prokes immediately taken to Doctors Hospital and was later pronounced dead at 10:44 PM.
Interview of news media present by Modesto PD substantiated Prokes’ prior announcement of press conference and reading of five page statement. Prokes was asked by a newsman “Was Jimmy Jones responsible for ordering the murders in Guyana?” At that point Prokes excused himself to go to the bathroom and after about one or two minute interval they heard a shot ring out.
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Prokes’ brother, Thomas Prokes, Jr., perfectly described weapon, stating it had belonged to his brother for several years and was obtained from unknown persons of PT in San Francisco.
Prokes’ five-page press release is summarized as follows.
He began by asking question “Why did Jonestown end the way it did?” Prokes believed that a great part of the answer can be found on the tape recording of the last hour of life in Jonestown but the tape was never played and is locked up by the Attorney General or FBI.
He did not find it surprising in light of what an Embassy official, Charles English, told in December to Mike Carter, two unrecalled reporters and himself of what was on the tape.
He continued that probably the most significant thing English said was that the tape would never be made public because it would cause embarrassment to the United States. English said the people of Jonestown were not coerced into taking their lives, rather the deaths resulted basically from a collective decision based on the perception that the community was doomed and there was no use to continue.
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English said that while he and a number of others listened to the tape in Georgetown, U.S. Ambassador John Burke came into the room and listened, after which Burke in no uncertain terms told those in the room that they had better not breath [breathe] a word of what they heard. Burke took the tape into his personal custody. English would be risking his position to admit that he told him and others about the tape and Ambassador Burke.
Skip Roberts (Guyana’s criminal chief) corroborated what English said was on the tape. The tape ordered solidarity of the people of Jonestown and Roberts was deeply moved by what he heard, plus believed there were some outside plan to destroy Jonestown. He doubted that Roberts would publicly admit what he said was a touchy political issue. Further, Guyana feels it can ill afford to offend or embarrass the United States while it has an outstanding I.M.F. loan and is seeking additional aid.
If there is nothing to hide then whoever has the tape should be willing to make it public, as it seems that a recording of the last hour of life for over 900 people is extremely relevant and critical for the public to hear.
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Prokes believed recording was made intentionally since Jim Jones asked that all meetings be recorded.
An article in the “Rolling Stone” magazine said it concisely[.] “The mass suicides of history, Madada [Masada] and Saipan, had occurred when people were under siege and surrounded by enemies.” That Jones and the people of Jonestown were no exception. For months they had been harassed, persecuted, surrounded and besieged by shadow forces. When the final attack was imminent and undeniable, they chose to die.
Prokes believed the tape would corroborate this info and was convinced that its contents has been deliberately misrepresented to the press, because its contents would reveal the truth about Jonestown.
Prokes believed the press should demand the tape be made public. In order to be properly evaluated and understood the entire fifty minutes of tape should be played to the press, unedited and uncensored.
Prokes believed that it would take a lot of pressure for the
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tape to be played and would reveal clearly something that the government does not want to admit and cannot admit – in that Jonestown represents a symbol of the mass institutional failure of this country to meet the needs of its own citizens. He felt it no coincidence that most of the members of the PT were black when you consider that most of the inhabitants of the huge slums and ghettos in virtually every city are black. PT provided the opportunity for them to escape the misery of their lives in the ghettos.
Jim Jones jumped into the vacuum created by the failure of this system to meet the needs of the black people and met these needs of the neglected. The US intelligence apparatus would obviously feel duty bound to stop Jones in particular in light of their history and reputation of going after progressive political and civil rights organizations.
Beyond the satisfaction of their material needs, people found dignity and pride in the Temple that racism had previously denied them. Attempt to deny Temple members their new freedom – and to us it was freedom – still persisted even after the move was made to another country. He believed this was the
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reason so many were to die in the end, as it was a moral act of courage and commitment to their beliefs “they were not going to take it anymore.” “We’ll die by our own hand rather than be destroyed or broken up by the long arm of the oppressor”. He said this was the reason so many people died and took their children’s lives because they believed their community that they had built was under siege by the United States Government, which Prokes agreed was the case. The State Department was well aware of the Temple’s negotiations to move to the Soviet Union in order to escape the threats to its security in Guyana. Undoubtedly the State Department and the CIA wanted to prevent a tremendous Soviet propaganda victory based upon nearly one thousand Americans moving to the Soviet Union in quest of human rights that had been denied in the United States.
But what length was the State Department prepared to go to discredit Jonestown? Would they sacrifice a congressman? Evidently. Otherwise, why did they allow Congressman Ryan to go to Jonestown when they were told in a legal affidavit that there were arms there and he knew a visit would be considered an act
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of provocation. Why did they allow it? Because the State Department wanted an incident. Well, they got it. Prokes was not convinced that they got more than bargained for. Since the affidavit told of suicide rehearsals and warned the State Department that they should be taken seriously. In a letter from the PT to the State Department, it was stated that Temple members would rather die than be harassed from continent to continent. The State Department purposefully called the bluff by sending Ryan; it was a deliberate act of provocation. Prokes believed in a basic rightness in the life and work that went on in Jonestown and could not dissociate himself from the people who died nor did he want to. They were beautiful people who cared for each other and identified with all people who suffer oppression and persecution around the world. The people were not brainwashed fanatics or cultists. The Temple was not a cult, but a political organization that built its own socialist community. After moving 6000 miles to get away from racism and harassment, they were not going to be pushed
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anymore, but the State Department and CIA could not afford to let such a large group of socialists from the United States find freedom in another land so they harassed them by sending their lackeys, through Tim Stoen, to Guyana and deliberately built upon the paranoia that existed in Jonestown until they finally got what they wanted.
The talk about Jonestown is being covered up because our government agencies were involved in its destruction up to their necks. Prokes was convinced of this, along with many other reasons since he was an informant when he first joined the PT, but did not remain one because he realized that the Temple was probably the only hope for many people it was helping off the streets. Prokes learned to identify with these people until they became his brothers and sisters and then he understood what it meant to be black, old and poor in this society – the hell of living every day in fear –.
The people of Jonestown died because they were not allowed to live in peace. They died because they did not want to be left with no choice but to come back to live
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in the rat infested ghettos of America. They died for all those who suffer oppression. Prokes refused to let his black brothers and sisters and others in Jonestown die in vain.
Summation of handwritten note found in motel which alleged as follows:
“One man they tried to use was Jos. Mazor, private detective, who said he was here to get the children out of J/T by using sop[isticated] weapons and mercenaries. Mazor abandoned the plan when he saw that there was no barbed wire, no gun towers, or armed patrols, as he was led to believe. Mazor knew there was a conspiracy and that’s why he insisted on getting J.J. a BP [bulletproof] vest and offering J/T security in the use of weapons.”
Summation of additional 30 pages: Prokes spoke of how he attempted to meet Jim Jones in October, 1972. A few days later he received a phone call from a Gary Jackson, who stated he worked for the government but would not be more specific. Prokes questioned how Jackson was aware of his interest in the PT and was told that there are ways, which led
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him to believe that Jones’ telephone was tapped. At that time Prokes’ interest in Jones was for purpose of interview so that he could do an expose for his television news program. Jackson indicated to him that the PT was a revolutionary organization led by a dangerous man bent on destroying our system of government. They talked and was agreed that if he were successful in joining the Temple full-time as a staff member, and reporting regularly on what was going on inside the organization, Jackson would arrange to pay him $200 a week.
Later he heard Jones preach and got to talk with him privately and during a conversation Jones indicated he could use Prokes who would work voluntarily with the Temple providing only living expenses.
Jackson called several days later, at which time he informed him he was quitting his job and accepting the offer to work for the PT.
As time passed, Prokes gradually began to feel conflict over his role as informant even though he was not providing what one might call valuable or sensitive information. Further, he
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was beginning to identify with the problems and sufferings of the members and his conflict turned to a feeling of guilt. He could no longer justify being an informant on Jones and his organization and during his next contact with Jackson told him of this, after which Jackson desperately attempted to convince him he was wrong.
Prokes spoke of Jonestown to the effect that there were numerous unannounced visitors every day of the week, but the positive testimonies from Jonestown from such persons were not enough to halt the organized efforts of those determined to destroy Jonestown.
Prokes got the feeling in Jonestown of back to the wall, not being able to win for losing, but when Congressman Ryan whose May 1978 letter to them declared his sympathy for Tim Stoen announced his intentions to come with the media, the feeling of being entrapped turned to belief.
He believed Stoen was a CIA operative who always had too much money. Stoen’s announced goal was the destruction of Jones and the Temple and was using the so-called “Concerned Relatives”
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method to keep pressure on by hitting against what he knew to be Jones’ most vulnerable area, his loyalty to his members. Stoen has now quietly disappeared from the scene.
For clarification, Prokes was convinced beyond any doubt that there was no conspiracy from within the PT to kill Ryan. Tim Carter was sent to the States to deliver some legal documents and while there, Terry [Terri] Buford left the Temple, stating she was going underground to get information about the conspiracy against the Temple. When Carter returned to the project, he told Jones that Stoen and “Concerned Relatives” were counting on an overreaction by Jones and the Temple to Ryan’s visit. From that period on, Jones desperately tried to keep Ryan from coming since he felt that Ryan was coming to deliberately provoke an incident and bring the media to record it. One thing that added credence to Jones’ and others fears was that Ryan showed up totally unannounced at the Temple Jonestown [Georgetown] headquarters one night. The next day at the press conference it would appear evident that Ryan was attempting to set the stage with the type of investigation he would seek to get into Jonestown. Ryan
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said he was concerned that a church that had no signs of religion at the headquarters and made deprecating remarks about members of the Georgetown household because of their standoffishness. At this press conference, Jones and staff were convinced that the community was in for a rough time from Ryan. Then Ryan announced he was coming in welcome or not with the media. That was the worst thing he could have said, as it came across as a virtual threat made by an arrogant white person representing the American establishment. Ryan’s action only served to confirm the suspicion that he was coming to discredit Jonestown by provoking an incident which, if it did not serve to preempt the planned move to the Soviet Union at least would lessen or eliminate the propaganda value for the Soviets.
A final effort to prevent Ryan’s visit came via instructions from Jones the block the runway at Port Kaituma so that his plane could not land. The instructions could not be carried out because members of the Guyana Offense [Defense] Force on the airstrip repairing an airplane. It was felt by Johnnie [Johnny] Jones
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and Jim McElvane that their presence would interfere with any attempts to prevent a Guyana Airways plane from landing. The plane landed and after much discussion it was decided it would be better to let Ryan come in than to have him go to the entrance of the project with the media and create a scene for the benefit of the cameras. Thus, Ryan and his staff were allowed in and later Jones succumbed to the pressure to allow the media in also. The rest is history.
Prokes did not know how the final attack at the airport came about, but remembered hearing Jones say following Ryan’s departure from Jonestown something to the effect that the lid was off and he did not see how he could keep the lid on any longer. He took this statement to be in reference to those who always wanted to answer the Temple’s problems with violence.
Prokes further spoke of the oppressed, old, poor and minorities and how Jones dealt with this problem. He thought highly of Jones and his ability in handling these persons in his ministry. He also could heal persons suffering from various things.
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Prokes went on that if you can believe anything anyone says about Jonestown, you can believe that it was an integrated community, populated by a virtual cross-section of human race, that it was racially harmonious. It was based on a code of consideration, respect and concern for people and the progress being made along these lines were remarkable. The vast majority of the people loved Jonestown and there was a tremendous will for it to exceed against all odds.
All kinds of people came to the PT with every type problem. For many it was their last resort. Seeing their problems made his worst ones seem petty and as result became conscious stricken and realized there was nothing more worthwhile that he could do with his life and decided to stay indefinitely, a decision he did not regret.
Photostatic copies of testimonials made by various persons towards the PT in the results being attained by the PT. Additionally several press release type transcripts by or for the PT.
Sacramento at Modesto, California: Will follow with
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airtel and LHM.