Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: None
Date cues on tape: Late 1977 (soon after Charles Garry’s trip to Jonestown)
Andrew Young, US Ambassador to UN
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Joe Mazor, private detective
Walter Jones (by reference)
Dorothy James (mother of Shanda James, by reference)
Howard and Beverly Oliver (by reference)
Tom Grubbs (speaks)
Shanda James (by reference)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Vincent Lopez (speaks)
Bruce Oliver (by reference)
William Oliver (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Heather Shannon. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
While undated definitively, the tone of this recording of a Peoples Rally in Jonestown sometime in late 1977 is quite different from the increasingly-chaotic community meetings of the following year leading up to November 18. There are moments when Jim Jones loses his temper, and instances when people are called upon the floor for seemingly petty offenses, but for the most part, it depicts a community trying to establish itself as a permanent and healthy presence.
The major migration into Jonestown is complete by now, but Jones is still selling the place, using a carrot-and-stick approach. The stick is what life was life back in the States: in addition to terrible economic conditions and the general lack of will for people to resist what’s being done to them, there are specific horrors of the Ku Klux Klan marching in the streets, and concentration camps already set up. As for the carrot, they have a beautiful community that has the full support of the national government, they are far enough away that disgruntled relatives and other enemies can’t reach them, they have such excellent health care that no one – not even the diabetics – has died in the months they’ve been there.
And the results should be apparent to everyone. Everyone is thriving, and those who were in trouble in the U.S. have changed and become productive. “And that’s what Jonestown means,” Jones says. “That’s what communism means. Only Jonestown father and communism can bring that change.” The response of the crowd gathered before him is enthusiastic and optimistic.
There are things they need to watch out for, though. Jones wants everyone to be aware of what the community needs to survive. That means they need to know the cost of food, how much food it takes to feed everyone, and what they need to do to produce it themselves. They also need to careful in consumption. People shouldn’t be denied what they need, but wasting food is counter-revolutionary, a betrayal of the cause.
Jones talks about the changes in disciplinary actions taken against miscreants, and how even that has improved. “Public humiliation… is a good form of discipline,” he tells them. “It’s better than boxing. It’s better than spanking. We’d rather compliment and humiliate, so that we can grow, than to get into physical violence with one another, wouldn’t we?”
But he wants to be sure the people know where all of this is coming from. “We oughta kiss the ground, we oughta thank the principle bearer, our Father, every day for this chance,… ‘cause there’s never been a leader, Marxist-Leninist or anybody else that’s ever sacrificed like I have to see that you get what you need.”
In case they don’t know what those sacrifices are – and he says their ignorance of that is on display right that moment – he goes on to detail some of them, especially those at the expense to his own health. He needs meat to maintain his “basic physical health,” but he lets others have his portions. He needs diet colas to soothe his stomach, but they’re too expensive, so he does without. : I don’t have one damn convenience. You hear what I’m saying?”
There are a few chinks in the Jonestown paradise which Jones addresses in an oblique way. He knows, for example, that if any of them wrote to their relatives in the States to ask for money to go home, their kin would comply. But here’s his challenge: “Every one of you think you got a good relative tonight, write up and say … we’re adopting a child, I want a hundred dollars to help with that child. … I dare you to ask them for a hundred dollars for one of those precious little babies, and see how sweet your mother fuckin’, daddy fuckin’ relative is.”
Later in the tape – the elapsed time is unknown, since there are several edits – Jones does express anger at a couple of his followers. Coming back in from one of the edits, Jones seethes at a woman who needs to be excused to go to the bathroom. “My God, you go to lay your fucking hand in my face and see that you piss when I’m struggling between being a father and a leader. Goddamn you, go piss.” The crowd joins him in the criticism.
In addition, belying his earlier remarks that the community has uplifted everyone, he calls a young man onto the floor for not appreciating what everyone has done for him. Others are questioned in a general sense on the depth of their commitment to their cause. “You better talk about being loyal to Peoples Temple,” he calls out near the end of the tape. “We haven’t come over here and found no panacea. We haven’t found no goddamn panacea. We just got a lotta room. You understand what I’m talkin’ about?
“I mean, you have landed in Gloryland,” he adds in conclusion. “This is a Promised Land to us. But that doesn’t mean every fucker walks in here is part of that Promised Land.”
Date of transcription: 6/27/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On June 9, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B102-5. This tape was found to contain the following: JIM JONES conducting a “People’s Rally” question and answer session.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2022.