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: Labeled in part “Aug 72”
Date cues on tape: December 11, 1977 (day after death of Lynetta Jones)
Public figures/National and international names:
Forbes Burnham, Guyana Prime Minister (by reference)
Ptolemy Reid, Guyana Deputy Prime Minister
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Helen [several in Jonestown]
Jim [several in Jonestown]
Pete [several in Jonestown]
“The Williams boy”
Marcus Anderson (speaks)
Jair Baker (speaks)
Vities Cannon (speaks)
Brian Davis (by reference)
Mary Magdaline Griffith (by reference)
Garry Dartez “Poncho” Johnson (speaks)
Lynetta Jones (by reference)
Penny Kerns (speaks)
Willie Malone (speaks)
Cheryle Darnell McCall
Benjamin O’Neal Robinson
Mary Johnson Rodgers (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Connor Ashley Clayton. The editors gratefully acknowledge his invaluable assistance.)
This meeting of the Jonestown community has many of the elements of a Peoples Rally – most notably, discussions of the conspiracy against Peoples Temple and of the former members and defectors responsible for it; and decisions on recommendations of coordinators and supervisors on disciplining misbehavior and shortcomings – but two problems differentiate this session of December 11, 1977.
The more emotional one is that Jim Jones’ mother Lynetta has died the night before, and Jones spends time reviewing her life and everything she did for the movement. One issue he has to discuss, however, is the very fact of her death, since Jones has spent years claiming that, due to his own paranormal abilities, no one dies in his presence. Part of his explanation is that his mother knew how much energy and pain it caused her son to perform his healings, and she did not want to drain him, so she asked him to let her go. He also says that, while he considers everyone else in the community to be his child – and so does everything in his power to protect them – Lynetta was the mother. She made the decision to die, and as hard as it was, he had to accept it. Throughout this meeting, though, she is held up as the example to which all Jonestown residents should emulate.
The second issue is one affecting the community’s finances: Jones has recently learned that the Social Security Administration, working with the U.S. Postal Service, has blocked Temple recipients in Jonestown from receiving the checks to which they are entitled. Jones has known about the problem for a few weeks, and – between contacts with California congressional representatives and Guyanese political leaders – Jones is fairly calm that the situation will be resolved (which it was, later that month). Nevertheless, it gives him fodder for his frequent reminders of the perfidy of the fascists and monopoly capitalists running the U.S. government. In addition, while he doesn’t that the community would choose death on this subject, he does note that they have power in threatening death. “We’ll get right on that radio and tell … the fuckin’ world that we’re gonna fast, ‘til we get our goddamn money.… I’m certainly not gonna let us stand here and starve to death to suit the fascists. But we’ll tell ‘em we’re gonna fast.”
The Jonestown community does have the Guyanese government in its corner, though. There are pressures on it to get rid of them, but the prime minister “said that we were indispensable to the security of Guyana.” Beyond that, the US doesn’t want to fight another war in a jungle, not so soon after Vietnam.
Still, there might be a battle that might kill many of them. And those that have betrayed him and survive, won’t be in the clear, because of all the contingencies he will have left in the wake of his death. “You can’t put me in the grave and get away from me,” he warns. They should heed what he has to say, because he knows how to deal with traitors. “You don’t know how clever I am. One thing you’ve all done is underestimate me. I made plans for treason long ago, ‘cause I knew I couldn’t trust enough of you.”
Jones does suggest he has some financial hold or influence that allows him to leverage information – from government agencies, from other parties – about who their enemies are and what they’re doing. “They’re hesitant to give me my credits for stopping trains and stopping bombs and that kind of shit,” he says, but “capitalists will fink on each other if you pay them.… I can get anything I want to buy. And I know how to buy it.”
The session eventually turns to Jones’ review of reports regarding the Learning Crew – the people who have been placed on it, the people ready to come off of it – and in general, he offers as much encouragement and praise for the progress folks are making as chastisement. He does wonder aloud, though, whether the news there was going to be a Peoples Rally that night concentrated the minds of would-be miscreants.
The final moments of the tape focus on one of Jonestown’s hardest rules, about love and sex. There is a Relationships Committee in Jonestown which is supposed to rule on all relationships before the partners can engage in sex, and one of the conditions is a three-month period of abstinence before the union will be approved. There are several reasons given for this. One is that the community is already living close to the margin of existence – maybe too close, according to some – and they don’t need any more babies to consume valuable resources. Another is that the time spent in relationships takes away from the production goals of the project. “Shit, we here to work, not to lay up and fuck,” one unidentified woman says, adding, “It really pisses me off.” Expanding upon that, Jones notes that the father of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, pointed out that you have to be prepared to abandon love as being too much of a diversion. “Any kind of one-to-one relationship he’s said to be stopped. We’re in a revolution.”
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 1B110-10. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES talks about the recent death of an elderly female Jonestown resident then talks about the “conspiracy” and says, “I’ve made plans to protect these people … I’ll call up my aces in the hole … you can’t put me in a grave and get away with it”.
This is followed by criticisms of work habits and performance and criticisms of the “Relationship Committee.”
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes. The identification note – indicating the tape was made in 1972 – would indicate that it is a recycled tape.
Tape originally posted June 2023.