Don Harris interview 2

Tape 1/Side 1 KNBC interview

(Before the interview starts, Charles shows Don Harris the Mazor affidavit and Harris asks if Garry has shown it to Stoen. He says he has not. But that he might ask Grace about it.)

Garry: You look at that child; it is the spittin’ image of Jim Jones. I’ve handled an awful lot of paternity cases, and when the mother says this looks just like the alleged father, I don’t see it. This one is so clear…

D.H. [Don Harris]: Is that right, Carl?

[Carlton] Goodlett: Oh right, the same sculpture.

Garry: You know what Tim Stoen’s answer to that is? He says, well Jim Jones and I look like. Tim Stoen and Jim Jones do not look alike.

Harris: This is not an adversarial situation. So, if you say something and you didn’t like it, you can say so – let me do that again – and we’ll do it over. You’re not getting a break that I don’t get. When I screw it up, I start over again. You get the same option. You understand, it is not always done that way. (To Walter Duncan) Tell me, what is it like there?

Duncan: It is a beautiful place.

Harris: Your daughter and wife are there, and you are satisfied that they are well off.

Duncan: Yes.

Harris: Why didn’t you stay?

Duncan: I am employed by the federal government. I have a job here.

Harris: You are not a member of the Temple. Why not?

Duncan: (sounds like) he is a deacon at a local church. Considers himself an ally of the church, a supporter of it without joining it. (Talks about his credentials etc.) Says he works freely with all the other churches etc. in the community, and groups throughout the city.

Harris: Do you know Tim Stoen?

Duncan: Yes.

Harris: Do you know about the charges by some people who say they have relatives there, specifically by Tim Stoen and his wife. Did they talk to you before you went down?

Duncan: Well, I accidentally bumped into Tim Stoen and he came over, and he made some statements, my daughter had already been there living (inaudible somewhat). He said “If Jim Jones was smart, he would send John back and I would get off his back.”

Harris: You know that one of the charges is that relatives there are not allowed to communicate with anyone outside the Temple. That they could not leave, even if they wanted to. So, you have been there. Let me ask you some things. Did you see your daughter?

Duncan: Yes.

Harris: Did you see her alone?

Duncan: Yes.

Harris: Did you see her whenever you wanted to?

Duncan: Yes. (Some parts of Duncan’s response inaudible, something about there were other people around some of the time, visiting etc.)

Harris: But you didn’t feel that they were monitoring what was said?

Duncan: No, none whatsoever.

Harris: No pressure? Did you have the feeling that if your daughter wanted to leave she could have?

Duncan: Sure.

Harris: You are convinced of that?

Duncan: (inaudible response)

Harris: Your wife went down with you, and she stayed. Why?

Duncan: Well, my wife has been a member of the church for quite a few years, and her state of health, my wife has multiple sclerosis, and the medical facility was good. (Inaudible)

Harris: At the risk of being repetitive, there are some people who say that Jonestown is a bad place, and Jim Jones is a bad man, and that people are deprived of their rights there. What do you say?

Duncan: That is not true for the period of what I was there. There are a group of people that live in Georgetown, and it would be much easier to leave from Georgetown, just call a taxi. They could be on Pan Am in an hour if they wanted to. Down in Jonestown, there is a problem with transportation. There is an atmosphere, one to arrive there, it becomes more as a family affair. Tremendous entertainment program. I knew a lot of the young people, as they knew my son.

Harris: One final question: there has been a lot of talk about armed guards and armed patrols. Did you see any?

Duncan: No, none whatsoever. As you enter the project, they do have an outpost, just an individual teenager, with no arms whatsoever. There are no fences, the jungle around serves as the security. No fences, just a teenager or some senior citizen standing guard in that one spot. Unarmed. Just have a small radio there.

Garry:Let me point out one thing about Tim Stoen. When I first met him, he was highly supportive of the church. I met him on some real estate matters, or something, in Redwood Valley. I was really surprised to hear him talk that way when I saw him, since he was one of the strongest supporters of the church before.

Harris: Well, maybe in another week, I can sort some of this out and figure some things out. If we get out to Jonestown, I will look up your daughter and your wife and tell them we talked to you.


Jean: I was there three times, one of the original group that went there with Rev. Jones to select the site. I was there last year in September and just returned about one month ago, and I am well familiar with the project. I have been a member of the Temple for seven years or so.

Harris: Jean, let’s cut through the formality of all this. There is obviously a sizable conflict. What is causing all of this? Mr. Duncan says his wife and daughter are fine, and we have a list of 25 folks who are concerned enough to sign affidavits, and a good sized number of them to get on a plane and take a trip, and they are very near convinced that their relatives are not fine. What is going on?

Jean: We have also been trying to figure that out for one and a half years. I speak only for myself, and anyone here could speak as well. But on a personal level, I think anyone who has been very much a part of something, as Tim Stoen was, as Mr. Duncan was saying, and then for one reason or another, chooses to dissociate themselves, then I think, in order for one to justify themselves and what they have done, they have to try to tear something down. I think that is true in a divorce, or whatever, but I think there is also a lot more here. I know there is, because we have seen evidence over the past year of a very well orchestrated effort, a conspiracy in my opinion, to malign what we’re doing, that involves various agencies. For instance, our Social Security checks as one example. We have maybe 200 or 300 seniors, all of whom are entitled for Social Security benefits and have applied for such. And when they got over there, mysteriously the checks were cut off, and we found in the post office branch a memo that was circulated by HEW which said that all Social Security checks bound for Guyana should be returned, which is just one indication of high level kind of thing.

Harris: Who signed the memo?

Jean: It was an inner office memo, just initialed. Also we sent shipments to Guyana, like we have for years for our agricultural project, and some agents from the Treasury Department broke into the crates in Houston, and with no explanation. When Mr. Garry wrote asking for some explanation, they said they did not need to answer etc. So, I think it is on several levels. I think some of it is on personal motivation.

Harris: Forgive me, Jean, but I get the feeling that you are holding back, that there is this thing that you haven’t quite yet told me what you really think the thing is. Now what the hell is it that you really think is happening, as far as the government agencies are concerned?

Jean: Again, I am just speaking for myself, but I would say that because Rev. Jones over the years has been such an outspoken leader, an outspoken advocate of racial and social justice, economic equality, that one is bound to incur the antagonism of certain elements, more conservative elements. We have seen this when this first occurred last year. It was very clearly pointed out by Assemblyman Willie Brown and a large number of community leaders. In fact, Willie Brown said he was surprised that it hadn’t happened earlier. Jim Jones is such an outspoken leader of human rights. He certainly has directed us, a large interracial church, a number of reasons that he would be attacked.

Harris: I don’t understand why. You are a fairly sizable group. What, you have about 2000 members?

Jean: No, I would say we have 2000 to 3000 active members in the Bay Area, and a large support group, and in L.A. a sizable group also. (Over 1000? Not audible).

Harris: It hardly makes a respectable target for federal antagonism. What agencies are you talking about?

Jean: Well, the way this whole thing has been set up, well over a year ago, before all of this came to our attention, Dennis Banks, whom Rev. Jones had supported, told him that someone approached him from the Treasury Department saying it would go easier for Dennis Banks, who at that time was fighting extradition, if he would speak out publicly against Rev. Jones. And prior to that, about six months earlier, we had helped Dennis’ wife get out on bail in Oregon, and our congregation gathered enough money on the spot to pay for the bail. This congregation has supported lots of people over the years. So when that came to our attention, we asked lots of agencies, including Treasury and different departments, what the interest was, and why Dennis had been approached, and that is still an unanswered question. That is just one example. And the men that had approached him at that time had also told him that Grace Stoen had talked to a Treasury agent.

Harris: A number of people, Tim Stoen, Grace Stoen, Debbie Layton, the Cobbs, a number of people said, that somewhere along the line, the church shifted and became, instead of a working socialist group, became a pure authoritarian group. They say people are beaten. Is that true?

Jean: No, it is not true.

Harris: You have never seen people beaten?

Jean: No, I’ve never seen anyone beaten.

Harris: Have you ever seen anyone hit?

Jean: These are all questions that you’re asking me that are directly related to the lawsuits. I don’t necessarily feel free to get into these things.

Harris: All right, your attorney is here. He can advise you. Am I getting into an area that is sensitive?

Garry: I think you are. You see, the difficulty is, that everything we say in the media ends up in an affidavit by Stoen, and we are privy to all kinds of confidential information that I have not publicly exposed as yet.

Harris: Up to now, you have not been (inaudible).

Garry: I can’t expose that. Tim Stoen himself has made that allegation, and in private notes that he has made, in his own hand, but I am not ready to expose that publicly.

Harris: You do not wish this known publicly?

Garry: No, there are so many things which we are not ready to expose, and to do so, I think would be harmful to our lawsuits. You might ask him, have you ever (inaudible word; accused?) your wife of having been a CIA agent. Ask him if he himself has had any connections with the CIA. Ask them if he has ever been a CIA agent in Germany. We have some things written in his own handwriting, where he talked about communism and socialism being so bad, and then he ends up being a great advocate of socialism. I don’t get it. I don’t understand one minute being one thing and then the next something different. You might ask him where is he getting the money to be able to hire a lawyer in Guyana for twenty-five thousand dollars cash, and the lawyer that went down and spent at least three or four weeks at the most expensive hotel in Guyana, and went back and forth several times. He himself has gone back and forth. Where is he getting the money to be able to do all the things that he is doing? He obviously doesn’t have any clients, except these three lawsuits, and he claims they were all instantaneous. Where does he get the money?

(Pat [Richartz, Charles Garry’s paralegal] adds Stoen himself went to Guyana for several weeks. They talk more about all the money spent in Guyana.)

Garry: those are questions that I intend to ask on these lawsuits, depositions, but I don’t want to tip my hand about that. But there are some things that I can talk about. I personally investigated, in addition to people that are there, I offered the first time that I went down, there were the Olivers. I said to them [Bruce and William Oliver], your mother and dad wants you to come back. He [Bruce] was almost 18 then, and he said he would run away if he was made to leave Jonestown, and he and his fiancée and I went to the capital, and I said I have credit cards here, I can take you back if you want to go. He said he didn’t want to go back.

I happen to know that the people in Georgetown, the Temple members there, have to rotate, because they like to get back to the jungle, they don’t want to be there, and these rotations go on at least every three or four weeks. They consider Georgetown to be civilization and they want to get back to Jonestown. You will see that for yourself, if you get the chance to go there. I have personally investigated all that.

Harris: (interrupting) We have to go, we are running tight. You are convinced that Jonestown is a good place?

Garry: I think it is a beautiful place. I consider it Paradise. It’s something that I read about the one time, that there would be a society like that, where there is no such thing as ageism, racism, sexism, and no such thing as hunger. I have read about it as a panacea – utopian – but I have seen it in action on two separate occasions.

Harris: Here’s a fairly sizable group who say they have tried to get their relatives out of there, and can’t. Why is that? What is going on?

Garry: All I can tell you is that I have been a lawyer for forty years, and have tried some of the most controversial cases there’ve been, and I will never at any time extend my own reputation, my own integrity, unless I personally know it. I went there myself, I investigated myself, I talked to all kinds of people, I conversed with them, ate with them, slept with them, and I’m satisfied there is not one single person there who wants to come back. They could come back any time if they wanted.

Harris: Debbie Layton comes out and says she had to go through the American Embassy because the Temple took her passport and her money, and that she saw people who were beaten, that she saw children thrown in the wells to scare them, that people are hungry. This girl was a member of the Temple for five or six years. If the Temple such a paradise, why would Debbie Layton lie? Why would she come out and spread all these stories?

Garry: I can’t tell you why she did it. I can’t tell you what subjective relationship she had with her husband etc. when she was there. Maybe she didn’t reconcile with her husband. I don’t know. All I can tell you is that when anybody says they are hungry there, that is an outright lie. There is so much food that you can’t possibly eat everything that you get, and everybody eats the same thing. There is no such thing as one person getting one diet and someone else eating something different.

Let me give you an example of the senior citizens there. There are several hundred there. They live in the medical compound. There are cottages right around the medical area, and every single morning, someone knocks on the door, and says has anyone there had any problems last night. That kind of security for old people, for senior citizens, is something that I can’t duplicate here in this country. And when I see children all over the place, in classes, and anxious to work in the fields after the school time, and they do it laughing and singing, carrying on all kinds of songs, and when I see the entertainment at night, when they are dressed in their beautiful colorings and clothing, when I see all that, and when I see the group meetings that they have, where several hundred people will stand up and discuss matters that come up, they discuss current events, when I see all that, I cannot be persuaded that anybody there is there against their own will.

By the way, there are any number of people here who are anxious to go. There are at least two- or three thousand people here who want to go, and they have relatives there, they know what is going on there, but they feel they have to be here to do the contribution here in the U.S. I have seen this. No one tells me about this.

Harris: Let me cover a few things quickly here if I can. Let me see. There are 1200 people in the compound now, multiplied by $900 airfare, or even half that – $450 for a one-way trip – that is a lot of money. Where did it come from?

Garry: Some of these people have their own properties that they turned over to the Temple. They believe in collective community living. And one person that I talked to had turned over all his worldly goods to be there, and he said if he had to do it all over again, he would have saved some more money to do it. There is several million dollars invested in there. It’s a city that they have built, right out of the jungle.

Harris: I am told that it is essentially a socialist group.

Garry: Yes, it is a very utopian socialist group.

Harris: Marxist, authoritarian?

Garry: No, I told you there is no such thing as elitism there. An authoritarian group would have elitism. They have ‘leaders’. They don’t have leaders there. You talked to Jean Brown a few minutes ago, and you asked her what she did, and she said she is just a member. As a matter of fact, she is a member all right, but she works 24 hours a day, along with everybody else, and there is no such thing as one person being a ‘leader’ and another person being a follower. That is hard to visualize and that is hard to understand.

Harris: Do you agree with Jean that there is some kind of conspiracy?

Garry: Well, I am too much of a lawyer to use words like conspiracy. All I can say is there something screwy. There’s something underlying this and I have not been able to get out. I refuse to call names, I refuse to explore myths, but there are an awful lot of things that cannot be explained unless there is some form of drive to destroy the Peoples Temple.

Harris: By who?

Garry: I don’t know.

Harris: By the government?

Garry: I don’t know.

Harris: Well, you must suspect. You have investigated this thing, you have followed it, you are an attorney, you are by nature an inquisitive investigator.

Garry: Well, many years ago during the Panther days, I said the government was trying to destroy the Black Panther Party. I am not prepared to say that the government is doing this, or whether a private group is doing this. Everything points to that there is a group doing this, and I have not been able to put my finger on it. The reason that I have not been able to put my finger on it yet is that I have been trying to eliminate certain areas in my investigation, and the more I get into it, the deeper it becomes. Whatever the group is– I don’t know what it is at the present time. I intend to find out hopefully in the next few weeks.

Harris: If everything is as you say it is, the group, the two congressmen and their staff, why not allow them into Jonestown?

Garry: Well, there is an answer for that. In the first place, my clients are paranoid. The fact that they’re paranoid, doesn’t mean that they are wrong. They do not trust the two congressmen that have volunteered to go down there. They had asked several months ago that representatives of the Black Caucus go down there, and so far the Black Caucus has not been able to. The reason that they have confidence in the Black Caucus is at least 60% of the people at Jonestown are black, and they are oriented to socialism, a utopian socialism, and they relate to all of the Third World groups, and they feel that [if] some black congressman went down there, that they would trust them.

You see, it was little over a year ago that Jim Jones was shot several times, and when I went down there, he had already been shot at, and the place was just panicked. And I suggested myself, that they arm themselves and get security. Well, they finally decided to put some people at the compound, but that is all. They would not on themselves. They would not use that kind of security. And the other day when we were down there, Joe Mazor, who is a private investigator, suggested to them that Jim Jones should be constantly guarded, and he said he would be willing to come down there and help them defend and set up a security guard and show them how to handle arms etc.

But Jim Jones is not that kind of person. He figures if anything is going to happen to him, it’s going to happen to him.

Harris: We have talked to people that said in this country, Jim Jones had bodyguards, a lot of bodyguards. The Secret Service said they were disturbed by Jim Jones’ bodyguards, and you are telling me he has no bodyguards? Yet photographs in San Francisco papers show bodyguards, big men, obviously in a protective formation around Jones. If they weren’t bodyguards, they were damned good imitations.

Garry: My idea of a bodyguard is someone who is there with guns ready and walking around. There are no bodyguards with him in Jonestown.

Harris: And there are no guns in Jonestown?

Garry: I have not seen any guns.

Harris: Debbie Layton says there is an armed squad, that there are patrols around Jonestown. You say that is not true?

Garry: If you go there, you’ll find that is not true. I hope you can go there, so that you can see for yourself.

Harris: As attorney for the Temple, at this moment– The congressional delegation will not be allowed in?

Garry: I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know if it will be allowed in or not. I have not been privy to that. Mr. Ryan did not see fit to contact me, so that I could make the proper arrangements. You know, this is their community. This is their home. And for a congressman to barge in and say I am coming down on such and such a date– Jim Jones has said, and the Temple has said, that is no way to come to our town. Why don’t you give us time to invite you to come down, and when you come down, we want at least two members of the Black Caucus to be a part of that delegation. Just don’t say I’m coming down whether you like it or not.

Harris: And the group called Concerned Relatives, will they be allowed?

Garry: No, they will not. I would advise them that they would not have to have them there. In the first place, my client does not trust them. We don’t know what kind of situation that would be. We were told at one time, that there was a delegation that came in there ready to kidnap everybody, and whether that was true or not, I don’t know, but that was told to me by a person who himself went there to do that.

Harris: There is in the case of Tim and Grace Stoen, a child, John Stoen. There is a California court order giving Grace Stoen custody of the child John, but Jim Jones still has the child.

Garry: Because it is his child.

Harris: He is the father.

Garry: He is the father. When you see that child, you see Jim Jones, you see an identical person. You can’t escape that. There’s no way in the world to escape that.

Harris: Is Grace Stoen the mother?

Garry: Yes.

Harris: Jim Jones is married.

Garry: Yes.

Harris: Grace Stoen is not his wife?

Garry: That’s true.

Harris: Is it common, as charged by some of the group, that family units shift, change partners and are encouraged to do so by the church?

Garry: No, that is not true.

Harris: There are also statements, that while Jim Jones’ wife was in this country until recently, that Jim Jones lives with two other people, two other women. If Jim Jones is indeed the father of Grace Stoen’s child, then does that not lend some credence to these charges?

Garry: What charges?

Harris: That Jim Jones is living with two other women were not his wife.

Garry: I don’t know who Jim Jones is living with. Every time I’ve been there, his wife Marceline is with him. I did not go to the bedroom to see who sleeps with who, and frankly I am not even interested in that kind of thing, of the evaluation, of my client.

Harris: In the end, because you are their attorney, you are going to end up being one of the main spokesmen, if not the main spokesman. Have I missed anything? Is there anything else that ought to be added?

Garry: Well, there are a lot of things that I can add, but there is a legal matter of being in court. I do not intend to talk about anything that I consider to be a breach of my responsibility.