(Note: Rikke Wettendorff transcribed the flyer “Victims of Conspiracy” for this page. The editors of this website are deeply grateful for her invaluable assistance.)
Portions of “Victims of Conspiracy” may also be found on pages 95-97 in Dear People, edited by Denice Stephenson (Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 2005).
Victims of Conspiracy
“This an organized, orchestrated, premeditated government campaign to destroy a politically progressive church….”
– Charles Garry
NEVER BELIEVE IT –
UNTIL IT HAPPENS
Peoples Temple and Rev. Jim Jones have been maligned by some of the news media and have been the brunt of vicious lies for months. The outlandish lies have been carried repeatedly on the front pages of some newspapers, while articles that vindicate us seldom appear anywhere but on the back pages near the obituary column.
We are responsible for saving many lives from drug addiction, crime, and anti-social behavior. Even from terrorism. And taxpayers have been saved perhaps a million dollars a year by the kinds of work we have done with youth headed into delinquency. And yet we are harassed. Obviously, anyone can see the lies perpetrated against us are nothing but a smear.
It is hard to know whom to trust among reporters. Some very responsible and successful reporters know and believe in our good works, but their hands are tied for some reason. We don’t even want to ask some reporters who would print the truth about Peoples Temple to come under the kind of harassment it would cause them…the kind of harassment we have been under and endured. In many cases we have remained silent rather than bring the heat of this controversy against us down on some conscientious news reporters.
We are not sure anybody is listening or that many care. We would not be surprised if we were short lived. But this is the way DEMOCRACY DIES, AND WE OWE IT TO ‘THOSE COMING AFTER US TO TELL WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO THEM – whether anybody cares what happens to us or not.
Inside are the facts about a conspiracy against good people. Maybe you can never believe it – UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU!
When Hitler came for the Communists, I didn’t speak up, for I wasn’t a Communist.
When he arrested the Jews, I didn’t protest because I wasn’t a Jew.
When the Nazis arrested the trade unionists, I didn’t protest, for I was not in a trade union.
Then they came after the Catholics, but I didn’t speak out because I was not Catholic.
When they came for me it was TOO LATE…There was no one left to stand up for me.
– Rev. Martin Niemoeller
TEMPLE GOOD WORKS VICIOUSLY
ATTACKED WHILE EX-NAZI
BUTCHER GOES FREE
Have you heard of the ex-Nazi who ordered the execution of 6,000-10,000 Romanian Jews during Hitler’s fascist reich who is living in the United States – now the Bishop of an entire orthodox denomination in this country?
Probably not. News of this butcher is scarce, even though he had the bodies of tens of thousands of Jews stamped “Kosher meat” and hung from meat hooks in a slaughterhouse – even though he has been indicted for lying to the U.S. Immigration Service in order to obtain his U.S. citzenship [citizenship] – there is hardly one word said about him. He moves about freely.
Yet more and more “news” – outrageously biased articles and outright lies – have been printed about Jim Jones day after day.
Why? We think we have an idea. Among the sources used in most of the vicious stories against the Temple is an admitted Nazi. The Temple, in its community newspaper, the Peoples Forum, has openly printed the truth about this ex-Nazi butcher who poses as a “man of God”. We have consistently run articles exposing the activities of neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. and right here in San Francisco. We were warned months ago not to touch that subject or those people. Yet we have felt strongly that somebody had to print the truth about these NAZIS who are thriving in our midst.
It is very strange that some of the people used as sources for the disparaging articles were outright advocates of terrorism …. And that some of the harassment and threats we have been subjected to we have traced to NAZIS …. And that the tactic of using the media to lay down a relentless Barrage of bad publicity to destroy someone was perfected in NAZI Germany by Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels…
BLACKMAIL ATTEMPT: Dennis Banks
Is Offered a Deal for His Freedom.
The following are excerpt, from the personal testimony of DENNIS BANKS, American Indian Movement leader:
“He (David Conn) said that my association with Peoples Temple could reflect very badly on my extradition. He then asked me to make a public denunciation of Jim Jones. He assured me that if I made such a denunciation, the rulings in my extradition would go in my favor.
“Conn was obviously trying to make a deal with me, and I was being blackmailed. Conn let me know that besides working with Treasury agents and other government agents, that he was already working with ex-members of the Peoples Temple, such as Grace Stoen ….
“Conn pressed hard for me to meet with a U.S. Treasury Department agent alone that very night. These agents all knew I had a lot hanging over me. Besides the extradition (which to me is certainly a life and death matter), I also had a case in Federal Court in which the Treasury Department was involved.
“It was not just a matter of Conn indicating that it would go well with me if I cooperated, but the implication was that if I didn‘t cooperate, it would go badly for me.
“Conn also said that he in no way wanted this information revealed for fear that it would ‘blow their cover’ and ruin any possible meeting between me and the Treasury agents.”
signed, DENNIS BANKS
[various news clippings]
VIOLENCE, DEATH THREATS, AND ARSON
PERPETRATED AGAINST JIM JONES AND
TEMPLE MEMBERS FOR YEARS!!
Peoples Temple is no stranger to persecution. As a progressive group and outspoken against social and racial injustice, we have always known what it is to live in the shadow of threats of violence and death.
The Temple in San Francisco has been burned to the ground twice.
We have discovered bombs under our buses – the bomb squad of the SFPD had to dismantle a bomb FOUND UNDER THE VERY BUS REV. & MRS. JONES WERE RESTING ON AT THE TIME!
Our senior members and families have endured hate calls and racial slurs during the day and on the phone at night for years.
Jim Jones has endured many death threats and assassination attempts. His immediate family has, also. Even in Guyana, paid assassins have taken shots at him.
Our children have been harassed in their schools. Our pets have been tortured and left mutilated on our doorsteps.
In an atmosphere of hate whipped up by the press, a man called the Temple numerous times saying he would shoot everyone who stepped out of the building. We had to call for police protection.
U.S. CUSTOMS SEIZING TEMPLE CARGO
In August, 1977, seven agents of the U.S. CUSTOMS (DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY) broke into crates of supplies being shipped by the Temple to our agricultural mission in Guyana, South America.
The Customs agents refused to give any explanation or probable cause for this sudden search and interruption of our shipment.
When Attorney CHARLES GARRY demanded an explanation of the U.S. Customs Department, they replied they were “Exempt from disclosure” and refused to provide any answer.
TAMPERING WITH U.S. MAIL
A mail package containing important documents and church-related business documents arrived at the San Francisco Temple Headquarters from Guyana completely destroyed. The package had been opened, tampered with and its contents completely ruined. A substance the color and scent of wine had been poured all over the papers. Legal documents and affidavits were lost.
Letters requesting an explanation from the Post Office have been unanswered.
When MRS. UNITA BLACKWELL WRIGHT (black woman Mayor of Meyersville [Mayersville], Mississippi and fellow traveller with Shirley MacLaine to Peoples Republic of China), came to speak at Peoples Temple, two men were caught spying on the meeting.
They were found standing in the narrow corridor beside the Temple with large briefcases, and they fled when they were approached by a curious Temple member.
Their license plate traced them to Biloxi, Mississippi, and then to Keesler [Kessler] Air Force Base, where they were confirmed to be high-ranking government employees and electronics experts.
Letters from Congressmen got only vague answers from the Department of the Air Force: “The alleged activities are not within the Air Force’s investigative jurisdiction. We understand your concern and regret we cannot be of more assistance.”
FREEDOM of RELIGION VIOLATED
The Social Security checks of hundreds of senior citizens, members of Peoples Temple residing at the Temple’s Guyana mission, are being deliberately withheld.
Guyana is a country where one may legally receive one’s Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration is supposed to automatically transfer the checks on request of the recipient.
Each and every one of the seniors who are Social Security recipients filed for automatic transfer of their checks to Guyana.
But tens of thousands of dollars worth of these checks have been withheld.
We have located a memo which was circulated by the local Post Office demanding the “return of all SSI (gold checks) and Social Security (green) to the Department of H.E.W. (Health, Education and Welfare) when there is a forwarding order for Georgetown, Guyana, South America”.
Congressmen and attorneys have written on our behalf and have so far been ignored by H.E.W. It appears to be a flagrant more to deny subsistence funds to the elderly, blind, and disabled, and to cut off their economic lifeline. The Temple also questions if this does not constitute a violation of its First Amendment rights of religious freedom, maintaining that surely religious preference should in no way pre-empt U.S. citizens from receiving benefits they labored for, and which is their legal due.
THE LATEST SMEAR
Following the death by murder (which even the papers called mysterious), of Chris Lewis, another vicious comment appeared in the news. It was inferred that Chris was a hired bodyguard for Jim Jones. That is an outrageous lie! The Temple has never hired anyone, and Chris never worked for us in this or any other capacity.
He did make contributions to the Temple by helping young people come off drugs. It was Jim Jones and the Temple that helped him with a trial that he went through some years ago and had gotten Chris off drugs. His efforts on behalf of young people with drug problems are documented and proven by the large number of youth living happy, useful lives today who came through the Temple rehabilitation program.
Chris’ family were members of the Temple. His mother lived and died in our church and was a very good woman. We help the families and loved ones of members; that is our standard practice. Though Chris himself did not follow our advice, he did help get many troubled youth off drugs – and we know that for a fact.
If the authors of the news article on Chris Lewis concluded that he was a part of us, then a lot of questions should be raised. Because the night of his death a threatening phone call came to the Temple saying, “’There will be more. Tonight was the first.”
And it was undoubtedly these lies that he was a Temple “bodyguard” that got him shot. We don’t believe this was a gangland murder. We believe the conspirators are responsible – there are those who would sacrifice anyone if it served their purpose. We had to talk to some of his friends outside the church to keep them from taking revenge. This murder we will not forget.
A CAMPAIGN TO DISCREDIT JIM JONES?
There is only one reason why some people would attempt to paint such a bizarre image of Jim Jones as has been done over the past months. He cares about ALL people. And he can do something about the plight of the poor and oppressed. Reactionary forces are trying to destroy his image because he is the most persistent tighter for social justice. Next time you see this terribly bizarre, distorted attention – think.
For months the distortions and lies have been hashed and rehashed— but never a word is printed or spoken about the lives salvaged and millions of your tax dollars saved through Temple rehabilitation programs.
Perhaps some agencies felt they had to discredit Jim Jones and Peoples Temple in order to protect the system. But when Peoples Temple endeavours only to relieve society of its many burdens, it is ridiculous that they resort to such cruel and inhumane tactics. No one else seems to be willing to help. The fact that Jim Jones was appointed to the San Francisco Housing Commission and elected head commissioner speaks for itself. Good citizens would not have placed him in that position if he had been the type of person the media has tried to smear in the public mind. He has never done anything fraudulent.
YOU SHOULD HELP, BECAUSE NEXT TIME IT MAY BE YOU!
What follows are quotes from religious, political and community leaders who have seen through the lies being spread about Jim Jones and have spoken out on behalf of this great leader for social and racial justice. The names of these prominent officials are not used here, because we do not want them to get the kind of harassment we have suffered.
“You are the epitome of caring for humans, sharing and providing basic needs for each other, helping the sick and afflicted and educating the youth. Everyone’s struggle is your struggle; your fight for human dignity is beyond compare.”
“Peoples Temple is targeted for destruction because it represents a determined effort to deal with the most fundamental problem of our society – oppression of the poor.”
“One gets the impression (at Peoples Temple) of being in the midst of the human race at its best; a community of people whose primary concern is to love and to serve …. Peoples Temple is led by a man of deep integrity and sensitivity.”
UPDATE: THE LATEST FROM JONESTOWN…
Charles Garry lived with us several days and nights at the Temple project in Guyana. He is a man known to speak the truth all the time – and he called Jonestown “PARADISE”.
An article dated December 11, 1977, in the Guyana Chronicle, the country’s leading newspaper, calls the Temple agricultural project “a first-class example of community life.” Written by a Dental Surgeon [Dr. Ng-a-Fook] who stayed several days at the project, the article further states: “l have never before seen so many people of varying races working happily together, side by side, without a single spark of friction. With its own school, sawmill, electricity, roads, houses, and so on, all being scrupulously clean, I could not help but be impressed.”
What was just a “jungle outpost” a very few years ago is now a center of productive activity. A Guyanese official who visited recently wrote in the guest book: “This is a model community that should be emulated all over the world.” We have yet to get the first criticism from any government leader or any delegation, and we have visitors from the U.S., Europe, and many South American countries all the time. Our project has been praised by government leaders throughout the world. Recent visitors have included a delegation from the Ministry of Education and the Minister of Interior Development. The Ministry of Education delegates were thrilled with our nursery and educational programs, which include instruction in several foreign languages, corrective work for many types of learning disabilities, and mathematical and scientific training.
The medical department is considered by many to be the most unique of its kind for this type of community. The staff includes a medical doctor, a pharmacist, a dietician, a pediatric specialist, several nurse practitioners, and a number of RNs and LVNs plus many medical assistants, full time health care workers, and trainees. There is a physical therapy department, under the supervision of a licensed therapist. We conduct regular cancer clinics, both in Jonestown and in nearby communities. We have also been able to treat children from the surrounding area who have not been so fortunate as to receive skilled care previously.
Medical equipment includes two EKG machines, a centrifuge, electronic microscope, and an autoclave. We will soon be getting an X-ray machine, to be operated by a licensed technician with 20 years of experience. All lab work such as urinalysis and blood testing, is done by our lab technician.
This is an environment where everything grows and thrives. We have just cleared another 200 acres of lush jungle land for planting – a continuing process as our agricultural programs expand. We have food stored months ahead of time, to prepare for self-sufficiency of the project. Frequently, too, we take large amounts of food into nearby communities to distribute. To meet protein requirements, we are acquiring milk cows. Already we have two bulls for propagation of a herd. The pigs are thriving, and a flock of thousands of chickens has just graduated 2000 chicks from modern incubators to add to its population. We are raising a number of rabbits for food.
A whole host of craft and cottage industries have taken hold as the individual talents of residents flower for the collective good. Toys, furniture, and handicrafts are among the items made. The community is very colorful, a true modern village, as homes are being landscaped with fruit trees, gardens and decorative fencing.
The excellent health of residents here and the astounding growth of the project are glowing reflections of the spirit of socialist cooperation. Every person is motivated to function at their very best, as they see their talents being used directly to help others. Almost needless to say, everyone feels very secure and well cared for in an environment like this. The experience of Jonestown, and the inspiration of its founder-leader Jim Jones, is building happy and healthy lives. We are more proud than we can say of what we have been able to accomplish in such a short time in this beautiful jungle interior.