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: Christmas Day 1977
Public figures/National and international names:
Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy
Valerian Trifa, Romanian Orthodox Cleric and former Nazi
Herbert Kappler, Nazi war criminal imprisoned in Italy
Martin Luther King, slain civil rights leader
Malcolm X, slain black leader
Steve Biko, South African political prisoner
Daniel and Philip Berrigan, American Catholic peace activists
Daniel Ellsberg, Defense Department analyst who leaked Pentagon Papers
Sheehan Brown, San Francisco defense attorney for Ellsberg and Berrigans
Steve Biko, South African political prisoner
Khaya Biko, brother to Steve (by reference)
Mohamed Hamaludin, Guyana Chronicle reporter
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Deanna Mertle, aka Jeannie Mills
Joseph Mazor, investigator hired by Concerned Relatives
[first name unintelligible] Pettit
Richard [could be Cordell]
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Odell (likely Rhodes, could be Blackwell)
James Edwards [identified as “Rev” in Jonestown]
Tom Partak (speaks)
John Victor Stoen (by reference)
Harriet Sarah Tropp
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Connor Ashley Clayton. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
With the exceptions of the Death Tape (Q 042) and the tape recorded the day after the deaths (Q 875), the best known segment of tape recovered by the FBI after November 18 is a two-minute excerpt – from about 2:40 to 4:44 – on Q 948, when Jim Jones leads the Jonestown community in a cry of defiance and menace. “Let the night roar,” he shouts several times, as the crowd ululates in a war cry behind him.
The segment was first used in 1981 as part of the NPR radio documentary, Father Cares, based upon the book, Our Father, Who Art in Hell, by James Reston, Jr., who had discovered the tape in the course of his research. It has been used scores of times, in other radio productions, in music, and in podcasts. The original tape itself – giving context to the segment – was re-discovered in August 2022 by this website.
And there is a broader context. Behind the ferocity of Jones’ diatribe is that it begins with the Temple’s leader request to alter the lyrics to a song, “Just Another Soldier in the Army of Love” released in February 1972 by the Staple Singers. The lyrics read: “Now hate is my enemy / I gotta fight it day and night / Love is the only weapon with which I have to fight.”
“You know. it doesn’t take much change and make that song sound good. But don’t say, hate is my enemy,” Jones says. “What do they say, what’s that word? Hate is my enemy. I’ve got to fight it day and night. And what else do they say, that other line? Love’s the only weapon?” And then he launches with, “Shit! Bullshit! Martin Luther King died with love! [Robert F. “Bobby”] Kennedy died talking about something he couldn’t even understand, some kind of generalized love and he never even backed it up, he was shot down!”
The segment is only a portion of the first part of this tape, during which Jones rants against “some bullshit about love,” in which he castigates his enemies – naming them one by one – in which he goes into tangents about Nazis who live in safety and protection in the U.S. and about the capitalists who supported Hitler as a way to bring down Soviet communism. He is especially critical of the former Temple members who forced them to move to Guyana, including members of the Concerned Relatives, the Eight Revolutionaries, and the people who were interviewed in the New West article. There is a grudging respect for “the criminal” Joseph Mazor, though, the private investigator hired by the Concerned Relatives but who later would switch allegiances to the Temple. “I’d like to get that fucker and pick his brain.”
But he reserves most of his venom for someone he does not know, the person who has sold them out to the conspiracy, the same conspiracy which has ruined other movements, a person who is motivated by money.
After reminding his followers of how terrible life is in the US and how many murderers and Nazis it protects, he decries anyone who would want to go back.
His target for the night is Tom Partak, a Jonestown resident who has been so unhappy that he attempted suicide. The community is going to dissect Partak that night, Jones says, not “with razors,” but to find out “what makes you tick. Fully. We wanna … see what the hell is in you.” The community participates in the questioning, and although many of the comments are made far away from the microphone, the tones of hostility and violence come through.
Jones makes vague predictions about what would happen to Partak if he left – he might be attacked by a monkey on the airplane, he might slip on the ice and fall – but then narrows the focus to his reception in the US by the FBI. What would he do, Jones asks, a question repeated by several in the crowd. Agents would take him aside, demand, cajole, threaten, and lie, and if he thinks he could stand up to their campaign to get him to turn against the Temple, he is sadly mistaken. After all, so many other people – including educated former members – have succumbed to FBI pressure.
This portion of the tape continues on Q 938.
The tape then cuts into a newscast of an undetermined date from late 1977. After a brief notice about the methods of mosquito abatement – most of which Jones says the community is already taking – he reads two feature pieces. One is an article about Australia and its political and social travails of the previous decade. The second is about the world’s response – and the West’s lack of response – to the murder of South African activist Steve Biko in September, and how the lack of strong sanctions against that country give it – and other would-be South Africas – license to continue to enslave their population.
Date of transcription: 7/2/79
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 21, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-7R12. This tape was found to contain the following:
A recording of JIM JONES shouting at an individual for wanting to leave PT and a portion of the tape consists of a sermon by JIM JONES. The reverse side contains music.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted November 2022.