Q721 Transcript

Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.

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Marvin Swinney: –where no fallout would get to us or anything like this.

Ronn Owens: Hmm.

Swinney: Uh– He kept people in it more by fear uh, than anything else.

Owens: When you mention fear, I mean, I don’t mean to be in any way offensive when I make this statement, but I would assume that these are people who, for whatever their reasons, just wanted to believe everything he said and followed him almost blindly. I mean, otherwise, that would not really hold much water, would it?

Swinney: This is true.

Owens: Yeah. Is this part of the operation of the church as you see it? In other words, getting people who frankly from an intellectual standpoint are just followers.

Swinney: Yes. Yes.

Owens: Do you consider it– Now when you’re talking about the Temple itself, you got– you got family in Guyana right now. Who is there?

Swinney: I have my uh– my mother [Helen Swinney], father [Cleave Swinney], brother [Timothy Swinney] and sister [Joyce Swinney Touchette] are over there.

Owens: Four people down in Guyana.

Swinney: Uh, plus my sister’s family [Touchette family]. I ha–

Owens: Well–

Swinney: Just practically all of my family is over there.

Owens: Now when Charles Garry was on, he had just come back from Guyana, and I remember specifically the word he used to describe it. He said, it was paradise. Uh, why would you want to get people out of paradise?

Swinney: Uh, what do you call paradise?

Owens: I don’t call it that. I’m giving you the word that he came up with–

Swinney: No paradise–

Owens: –and he said it was paradise, I can give you part of a reason, he said, that everybody was working with a form of unanimity, there was a spirit, there was a cooperation, the– he claimed that all of the charges that have been delineated either in New West or in the Examiner, there were all fallacious charges, there was nothing going on except a lot of people who were very, very happy.

Swinney: Well, my son [Donald] was over there for uh, right around a year, and that’s not the story that I got uh– I got from him or other people that have returned since then.

Owens: Well, then, why don’t you give us the story that you’ve got?

Swinney: Uh, they work from daylight to dark. They do not eat unless they produce a certain amount. They didn’t see a doctor when he was sick. Uh– This is paradise? There’s– There’s other things too. There was uh– oh, man. I’m kinda nervous right now, it’s gonna take me a couple of seconds to settle down.

Owens: No, just relax. I mean now, what– what other things are going on there?

Swinney: The beatings, uh– Well, these– these will have to be (unintelligible word)–

Owens: Yeah, but now you see, you mentioned beatings. There– let’s be specific and focus on that for a moment or two. Charles Garry said absolutely not, not a single beating in the Peoples Temple. Now how does– how does somebody who has never been in it like myself, know how to differentiate? Here I’ve got you, you sound thoroughly sincere. I had Charles Garry on, he seemed thoroughly sincere. How does one really ascertain the truth?

Swinney: Char– Uh, Mr. Garry has never been in– into any of the meetings that were not planned. (Pause) When an– when an outside– somebody from the outside come to the meetings, the meetings changed. They were not as they are when– when there’s nothing but members there. I have seen beatings. My son was in some of these beatings. In fact, he was one of the disciplinarians in the beatings. I’ve seen people beat, I’ve seen ‘em beat down until they could not uh– they couldn’t stand. And if the person that was being disciplined got the better of the one that was doing the beating, then they would keep throwing fresh people in until the person that was being disciplined could no longer fight, and he was (unintelligible word) bloody. (Pause) And then afterwards, they would have to get up and say, ”Thank you, Father.” I’ve seen– (Pause) I have seen– Uh, yeah, I– I uh– I was whipped one night–

Owens: You were whipped?

Swinney: And my– Yes, sir.

Owens: You’re talk– Whipped with what?

Swinney: With a belt.

Owens: Whipped with a belt by whom?

Swinney: Uh, the man’s name, uh–

Owens: Well, I don’t need the specific name. Was it a Temple member, was it somebody involved in the uh– in the administration or what?

Swinney: It was one of the Temple officials.

Owens: One of the Temple officials. Now, you sound like a re– well, I was even going to say reasonably, I don’t– I shouldn’t even insult you. You sound like an intelligent man. Why would you sit and stand for a beating?

Swinney: After– After I’d gotten out of the Temple, I’ve asked myself this many, many times. Uh– The thing that I was beat for was, one of the busses which I used to uh, be in charge of, had a flat tire. I was called in the back room by some high officials of the– of the church, and said to save Father’s face, would you please go up there and– and take the blame for this? And this is why I did it.

Owens: Whoa, boy. Marvin, if I can, let me put you on hold. We’re going to do a couple of commercials. I want to keep you on a few more minutes, ‘cuz there’s a lot more I want to learn about the Peoples Temple from your perspective, so I’ll get right back to you, okay?

Swinney: Sure.

Owens: Okay. If any of you have specific questions for Marvin Swinney, uh, by all means, give just a call. This is more informational in nature, and I– I want to present it as kind of a point–counterpoint to Charles Garry, but if there’s a specific question or two that you have, do feel free to call and ask. In San Francisco, 478–

(Audio break-up)

(Commercials)

Owens: We’re talking with Marvin Swinney, ex-member of the Peoples Temple. We’d just been talking about the beatings that took place. Well, let me try and– and present this from a logical standpoint. Let’s assume I became a member of the Peoples Temple because I thought it was a good, fine, upstanding organization, all the reasons you mentioned before, and then I see these beatings go on, and I say, hey, this is not for me. And maybe I might be a little bit afraid to express that point of view in an actual meeting, but to me, it just becomes obvious, this is not what I joined the Temple for. What do I do then? Is it a matter of my just picking up and walking out? I mean, you’re an ex-member. What does it take to be an ex-member of the church?

Swinney: (Short laugh) It takes quite a bit. When we– when we [Marvin and Jackie Swinney] dropped out of the Temple, we were threatened uh, with physical harm, uh, you know. And uh, they had our son in Guyana, and uh, they threatened, you know, that– they indicated that we would not get him back unless we uh, met their requirements, which was, we had to leave the uh– leave the area. They would not deliver our son anyplace but in Miami, Florida, and we had to go down and pick him up. Uh, we here harassed, we had phone calls all through the night, we had committees come over all times of the night to wake us up, get us out of bed, and uh, talk at us for uh, hours. It’s not easy to become an ex-member.

Owens: I understand it’s not easy, based on what you said, but you had mentioned, the first answer to the question that, oh, I had your son, and unless you cooperated, you wouldn’t get your son back. Am I naïve? That sounds to me like kidnapping or slavery. Is that what you’re implying?

Swinney: In so many words. We had to leave the area. They said if– if our son come back to this area, which they was talking about, Mendocino County–

Owens: Uh-huh [Yes}.

Swinney: –they said there was a– He had a drug record, which he did not have.

Owens: Um-hmm.

Swinney: They said uh, that we would not be able to live in that area. If we wanted to be out of the church, we had to move uh– there was a distance of at least 500 miles away from the church.

Owens: Now how are they keeping these people in Guyana right now? I mean, again, you’re almost implying kidnapping or slavery. If that’s the case, I need two in– two pieces of information. Number one, what about the local authorities down there? To what extent are they cooperating? And secondly, what about authorities here? Do– Is there any jurisdiction whatsoever, or are ex-members like yourselves banding together, uh, if you really feel this is going on and has to be corrected, which obviously it does, if in fact that it’s going on.

Swinney: We are banding together in the sense that we’re trying to help the people as they come out.

Owens: Uh-huh.

Swinney: Uh, not only to get their heads straight again but any other way that we can help them, uh, financially, give them place to stay till they can get on their feet or whatever we can do to help them, is what we’re trying to do. (unintelligible word) There is not a committee as such that does this. These are individuals that care about the people that are in there. And believe me, we do care about the ones that are in there. Uh, the best thing you could do is– is possibly make an announcement over the air and let some of the people that have come back talk to you. Let them tell you what the conditions are over there. I’ve talked to– I have talked to my son and he has told me. By the way, when he come back, the only thing that– the first thing that we could get out of him was, I’m here to work, I– I– you know, I– I want to go back to Guyana, I don’t want to be here. That changed within about three or four hours after we had talked to him. And then he told us that this is what they told him to say to us when he got back.

Owens: Well, let me ask you one last question if I can, then, Marvin, based on that. When Charles Garry was on, people called up and claimed that they really couldn’t get in touch with family members or people that they knew that were in Guyana. And Charles Garry said that’s absurd, there’s very, very u– easy communication, there’s no problem whatsoever, and if there was a problem, all they had to do was call him and he would arrange for it, and yet in the note that I got mentioning– and the fact that you’d be on the phone with us tonight, it said that you wanted to make an attempt to reach your family in Guyana. Now, are you not able to talk to them because you’re an ex-Temple member, or is nobody allowed to talk to people on Guyana?

Swinney: Okay, there has been four people that I know of that has tried to get a hold of their relatives over there.

Owens: Right.

Swinney: One person has been put off four– as many times as four– uh, four times. Uh, Mr. Garry said he would let them contact the people over there. Uh, one– one girl went in and– and uh, at an appointed date and time, and was told that there was too much traffic, that they had about three hours traffic in front of her, and she was sent home to await a call from uh, I– I imagine it was Garry, uh, telling her that, you know, she could talk to her parents. Well, they called her and said that uh, communications was bad. Uh, they’ve used such excuses as sunspots, they couldn’t make contact because of sunspots, heavy traffic, bad weather, and this is– Yeah, I could understand it, if it happened once or maybe even twice, but– but nobody has been able to talk to anybody down there yet. Uh– And what I would like to do is, I don’t know, maybe go through you and uh– I’m out here in South Carolina, I– I can’t go through Garry’s office from here, but possibly have you set up a uh– (Pause) a scheduled time that I could talk to my parents in Guyana.

Owens: Well. I– Yeah, I tell you what I would like to do, and that’s specifically, yet, and it’s part of what I wanted to save for the very end. I– If you and anybody else wants to get in touch with family members or the like in Guyana, I would ask you to do the following: Drop me a note specifically saying what time it would be convenient for you, and make it a good time in advance, obviously, what time, and I will forward the letters to Charles Garry. Now again, I have no way of really getting to the bottom on this Peoples Temple situation, I can’t get to Guyana, and even if I could, I think I’d probably be given a PR tour, it’s the normal thing anywhere that you go. But I do have enough respect for Charles Garry and he for me, that I have no doubt whatsoever that anything that I forward to him will be followed through on. So if you want to drop me the note, or anyone in the audience that is having trouble trying to get a hold of family, relatives or friends in Guyana, just send it to me directly, and I will personally turn it over to Charles Garry and follow through on it to make sure that the connection is made. (Pause) So Marvin, if I could ask you to do that, and anyone else, I think we might be able to make a couple of steps forward.

Swinney: Well, you can rest assured that you will get a letter from us. It’ll be in the mail tomorrow.

Owens: All right. Do you know our address, and in case you do– in case other people in the audience don’t, let me give it. Just drop it to Ronn Owens, KGO Radio, 277 Golden Gate Avenue, and that’s San Francisco, California 94103. And again, I personally promise to turn that all over to Charles Garry and to follow through to make sure that the connections are made.

Swinney: You will follow through on it.

Owens: You’ve got my word on 50,000 watts.

Swinney: (Laughs)

Owens: All right, Marvin?

Swinney: Couldn’t ask for any more. (Laughs)

Owens: I will do it, and hopefully after you’ve been able to talk to the family, we’ll call you back again and have you on the air and have you explain what has happened since then, okay?

Swinney: I would appreciate it.

Owens: I will look for your letter and all the others. And Marvin, thanks for being on with us.

Swinney: I thank you, sir.

Owens: All right. That’s Marvin Swinney, he is from South Carolina. And as you heard, he claims to have had trouble getting in touch with his family in Guyana. Anyone else in that boat, let’s see if KGO can act as kind of a conduit in this matter, and if nothing else, put people together with people. Without getting that much into the politics of the situation, just get the people together. Having done that, in a few moments, we will open up our phone lines to literally everything between now and one o’clock. By no means feel restricted to the Peoples Temple. We can talk about a variety of items. There’s a great, great deal of news. In fact, I tell you what I will do. I’ll give you the telephone numbers and some (unintelligible word) right after this.

(Commercials)

Owens: I was going to mention a whole bunch of topics, and I still will do that, except there’re an awful lot of people on the line who want to talk about the Peoples Temple, which is super. Interested in what you’ve got to say. We’ll start with line 6 in the East Bay. I’m Ronn Owens, Radio 81. Good evening.

Sandy Rozynko: Hi, uh, my name is Sandy.

Owens: Hi, Sandy.

Rozynko: And uh, I am also an ex-member and I have a (unintelligible word) your broadcast and– with Charles Garry and he said that uh, to call him and he’d arrange a interview with my family. My mother [Annie Joyce Rozynko] and my two brothers [Christian Rozynko and Michael Rozynko] are over there in Guyana, and I haven’t talked to them or seen them in two years. So uh– not because I haven’t tried, because I have and then the church just said they weren’t here or kept putting me off, and I haven’t ever seen them or talked to them. So I took you up on your offer and I called Charles Garry, and he says he’d arrange it, so uh– then a few days later, a church member called me back and she said, well, we’re having trouble with our broadcast, sunspots, et cetera, and I’ll call you back. On Tuesday – and that was Sunday ­– and she never called back. So on Friday after Tuesday, I called Charles– Charles Garry back again to find out what had happened, and uh, he got extremely angry with me. He went so far as to start yelling at me, even cursed at me. He said he was tired of hearing my bitching, and he said uh, you know, uh, I’ll take care of it, you know, and I just don’t want to hear about it anymore, and then after that, after he slammed down the phone on me– you know, I was very shocked, I mean, you know, here I haven’t talked to my parents in two years, he showed absolutely no concern, in fact got extremely angry, and he slammed down the phone, you know. (unintelligible word) three minutes later the church called me back, said uh, oh well, you know, we’re still having trouble with our radio broadcast, so we don’t know when we’ll get through, uh, if we do, we’ll call you. In other words, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Owens: And that’s the way it was left?

Rozynko: That– that’s the way it was, and that’s– that’s all I’ve got of– and the sad thing though is anybody else who has tried to contact them, they get the same answer.

Owens: All right, Sandy, I want you to do exactly what I told Marvin to do. If you drop me a note, just a short one, but kind of explain what you just explained, what I will do is I’ll see if I can either have lunch with Charles Garry or just go over to his offices myself, and as I said, I will personally see to it that everybody who wants to talk to a family member sees it, and I don’t care about sunspots or broadcast difficulties or the like, we will follow through on that.

Rozynko: Okay, thank you very much.

Owens: (unintelligible word), and I promise it. Thank you, Sandy.

Rozynko: Um-hmm.

Owens: ‘Cause that– I mean, that– that is kind of absurd. I want to get the bottom of that whole issue, and the (unintelligible word)– it’s funny, you create your own impressions as you listen to the story and I– I don’t want to start influencing you one way or the other, but it’s interesting, because I have begun to formulate opinions on where the truth actually lies, and I honestly don’t believe that Charles Garry is lying at all. I don’t think the man is capable of it. I think he’s a fine decent human being. But I’m also getting the impression that– I don’t want to start saying where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire, but suffice it to say there seems to be a lot of questionable evidence surrounding the Peoples Temple, but a lot of it which is not questionable at all– apparently things that are corroborated time and time again, and I am getting a very strong belief that either that somebody is lying to Charles Garry, or Charles Garry is getting, as Larry Houghton calls it, the Shirley MacLaine tour of China. In other words, you go down to Guyana, and everything is orchestrated. Marvin alluded to that before when he said Charles Garry has been to the Peoples Temple many times, but every time he was there, it was orchestrated. Maybe that’s– maybe that’s where the truth lies. We shall see. But I’m going to follow through because I’m starting to take an interest in this. I really am. I’m trying to figure out where– where somebody has gone wrong , and obviously somebody has. Line 2 in San Francisco, good evening.

Woman 1: Uh, good evening, uh, I just recently came back the agricultural project in South America.

Owens: Oh. Okay.

Woman 1: Yes, and I must say that everything that uh, has been written in the papers is all true. It ex– excrutiating punishment.

Owens: Are you another one of the ex-members, or what?

Woman 1: Yes, I am.

Owens: Well, how did you become an ex-member?

Woman 1: Well, after going to the agricultural project and staying there for a couple of months, I began to see uh, the true Jim Jones and the uh, true uh, relationship that he had with people, and I saw that there was uh, one-sided treatment in everything, and from all of that, I decided that it was time for me to go. The only way I did get back is because of my family members, fighting for me to come back.

Owens: Well, now, where were they fighting from? From down there or from up here.

Woman 1: Up here.

Owens: From up here.

Woman 1: Right. Uh– But Jim was very furious at the fact that they were fighting for us to come back, and he had told us that the Ku Klux Klan were marching in the middle of the streets, and the racists were out to get us, and he threatened us with all kind of things to make us say we would stay there, and uh, we would just uh, live under those conditions.

Owens: Stay on the line, because I got a couple more questions to ask you. For example, logic would indicate that any organization – not only the Peoples Temple but any organization – would have to consistently come up with new members to replace those lost by (unintelligible word), people like yourself leaving or just general attrition. Now, if that’s the case, the– the picture that’s been created – at least verbally, the picture that’s been created to our audience – is that Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple are real super in the beginning, and then they turn sour. How can they turn sour on some, while at the same time, I have to assume, they have to present that sweet picture to new people that are coming in?

Woman 1: Well, at this time, they are not encouraging new members. They’re maintaining their old members.

Owens: Oh, I see. And no recruitment whatsoever.

Woman 1: No recruitment whatsoever.

Owens: All right, another question. How do you wind up in Guyana? I mean, did they–

Woman 1: Well, what– the way they do it is, they send you to Florida first and you catch an airlines from there over to Guyana.

Owens: Yeah, no, I’m not talking specifically about the physical geography, I mean, what set of circumstances motivated you to leave the United States and go down to Guyana? How long a period of time did you really intend to stay? Well, what was your whole purpose and what motivated you to go down there?

Woman 1: Well, uh, they came in the– at the spur of the moment, and told us that we were needed over there, our energy was needed over there to help build this agricultural project.

Owens: Uh-huh.

Woman 1: And they made it sound as though it was a dream land. Pictures were taken of beautiful flowers, exotic uh, plants and fruits and everything–

Owens: When was this, by the way?

Woman 1: Uh, this was about four months ago.

Owens: Right.

Woman 1: I was there in March– and uh, March to June. And uh, beautiful flowers were shown and fruits and everything. And it just looked like a Garden of Eden. But little did we know that those pictures and everything were not of the agricultural project but of other scenery. And so, what happened is, through us only seeing pictures, not knowing of any books that were published, which there weren’t very many published on this little agricultural setting of Guyana, we uh, went over there. We were told that we would only be there for uh, a short while, maybe a year or two, until conditions got better over here, but after we got over there, he told us he had no intentions of us ever coming back to this place.

Owens: He told you that.

Woman 1: Yes, he did.

Owens: Were you virtual prisoners at the time, uh?

Woman 1: Yes, we were. All letters, mail, was censored, we couldn’t make any phone calls, I ran for blocks in order to get a phone call back over to the States to my family, and he was furious when he found out.

Owens: (Pause) Not a pleasant picture. Not at all. I appreciate your call, because again, we’re presenting as balanced a program and perspective as we possibly can, and it’s callers like you that help us do that.

Woman 1: Yes.

Owens: Thank you.

Woman 1: Thank you.

Owens: All right. We’re hearing a bad story about the Peoples Temple, now. If the other side wishes to talk, please, by all means, no restrictions whatsoever on your participation. Just pick up a phone and call. In San Francisco, we’re at 478-3456, in San Jose, at 272-1233. Uh, one other item might be of interest. The very first time that we had Phil Tracy on, the investigative reporter for New West Magazine, Phil made some strong statements, very much along the line of this last caller, uh, and related them to the Reverend Jim Jones, and as a result, we sent him a letter and we said, look, uh, we did about an hour of programming and you were very, very strongly attacked. By all means, we invite you to come back on the program and perhaps express your point of view. And this was I believe while he was still in San Francisco, or was visiting or the like, I’m not really sure. However, we got absolutely no response to that request, so it’s not as if we don’t want the Reverend Jones on. I would say he was probably my– my third choice, he’d be my third choice right now to have as a guest, with Richard Nixon first, and the Reverend Moon second.

(Commercials)

(tape edit)

Owens: –be amazed with that. Line 5 in the East Bay, I’m Ronn Owens, Radio 81, good evening.

Mickey Touchette: Hi, my name is Mickey.

Owens: Hi.

Touchette: Uh, I just wanted you to know that, I didn’t find uh, Ronn Owens to be as reliable as he said that Garry– (stumbles over words). I’m sorry, Ronn, I meant to say, I– I didn’t find Charles Garry to be as reliable as a uh– a– as a contact to Guyana as what I thought he would be. I uh, had an appointment to uh, talk to Guyana on Saturday, and uh, I– when I went to his office, I was met with three other Peoples Temple members there uh, uh– I couldn’t get through to Guyana. At first I was told that I had a– I was put on a waiting list that was three pages long. And I had made this appointment with Charles Garry two weeks prior to this, uh, because of the uh– of the last interview that you gave him a month ago.

Owens: Right.

Touchette: And uh, uh– So then uh, one of the Peoples Temple members, Marceline Jones, got on the radio and said, give her priority, let her talk. And then the radioman, uh, that was at the Temple said, well, there’s too much uh, interference, we can’t get through. I’m trying to get through on Morse code. So I was told to call back in a few hours, which I did, and I was told again, there was too much interference. I called again today at two o’clock and I was told there was too much interference, uh, so uh– Uh, there needs to be, I don’t know, some other (unintelligible under Owens)

Owens: Well, no, there– there doesn’t have to be another arrangement, Mickey, that’s part of why I said what I said when I was talking to Marvin. I want you to do the same thing in terms of a letter, and let me tell you exactly what I intend to do with them. I’ll get the letters – and let’s assume I get five, ten, I have no idea how many I will get – but what I will do then is I’m going to make my own appointment with Charles Garry and I’m going to just say, c’mon, Chuck, let’s level this whole thing together. I’ve got people that are wanting to talk to family members in Guyana, and they feel that they’ve got every reason to be able to talk, because you promised it on my program on KGO. As a result of that, what I would like to see is the follow-through that, not only the calls go through, but that there be no Peoples Temper– Temple memble– (laughs) I can’t get it out – Peoples Temple members around at the time. As I said, let me handle it from that– from that standpoint. I doubt very, very seriously that they’re going to try and hit me with sunspots or the like. If they do, I will raise holy hell right here on the air.

Touchette: Yeah, that’s great.

Owens: That’s the only way I can do it, because again, I’ve tried to remain as– as objective as possible in the whole thing, and I will continue to do so, but if I find that people’re going give me the stall, or give me the runaround, I think you can pretty well reassured I’ll gripe about it.

Touchette: Yeah. I think your term of calling those people “prisoners” was a very– it was a good one.

Owens: Well, it’s the only– Again, that’s the way it was described to me. That’s not my saying that they are. It just– The way that the verbal picture was painted, it certainly appeared that way.

Touchette: Yeah. As far as we can tell, they had no contact of the United States, so that they’re not getting uh, uh, the (stumbles over words)– they’re not getting comments from their family, who could uh, talk to them as– as– more honestly probably than anyone else could. That’s who uh, you know, Jones is– Jim Jones is making sure that that distance is kept as far away as possible. Uh– There’s another woman here with me who would like to also speak to you.

Owens: Yeah, sure.

Touchette: All right?

Owens: Sure.

Neva Sly: Yes, Ronn, I spoke to you before when uh, Mr. Garry was on.

Owens: Right?

Sly: And uh, my name’s Neva. I also made contact with Mr. Garry, trying to contact my son, who’s in Guyana, and uh, I received two letters from Mark [Sly] saying he was very happy, the letters were identical with the exception of uh, one phrase in– or one sentence in one of the letters, and the young lady you just spoke to that just came back from Guyana uh, when I asked her how Mark was doing, she said they’re having a terrible time with him. And I said, what do you mean? And she said, he hates it over there, Neva, and he’s being (unintelligible word) and he’s being beaten. And uh, I called Mr. Garry today, uh, for the second time asking to make contact, because if only I could just talk to Mark, maybe I could get him to cool it, just– at least until we can finish our legal means to get him home. And uh, Mr. Garry said he would call me back and he never did, he said they were having trouble making contact because of the weather and what-have-you. So I feel like Mickey does, I– I really don’t feel he’s the reliable contact that we think. I don’t think it’s because he is being deceptive as much as that he is being deceived.

Owens: Yeah, well, that– that is the impression that seems to be formulating in the back of my own mind. Neva, I’ll ask you to do the same thing again. Drop me a note, I’m gonna wait, let’s say about a week, within a week I should get every letter or note from people that want contact, and let me– let me take it from there and also let people in the audience know exactly what the progress is, because again, it– it seems fairly obvious to me, in terms of some of the rebuttal that has appeared in the paper to some of the articles that have– that have depicted life in Guyana to be anything less than idyllic, it appears to me that the Peoples Temple would then be sensitive to that kind of public response, and all I intend to do with it – and use the microphone for it – is just to present the truth. So if as a result of these letters, I’m able to put everybody in contact with their family, great, I’ll come behind the mike and I’ll say that. If conversely, I– I think there’s a runaround, I’ll say that too, and I will exert as much pressure as I can.

Sly: I appreciate that very much.

Owens: It’ll be my pleasure. I’ll look forward to your letter.

Sly: Thank you.

Owens: Thank you. And that was Neva and Mickey calling from the East Bay at 832-9707. We continue. First, a question–

(Commercials) (tape edit) (Commercial) (tape edit)

Owens: –Radio 81, good evening.

Sherwin Harris: Hello?

Owens: Hi.

Harris: Yeah, I’ve been waiting to talk to you, Ronn.

Owens: Good.

Harris: Been listening. Uh, I also have had contact with Charles Garry, and my daughter [Liane Harris] is in Guyana, and uh, she’s been involved with Peoples Temple for a number of years, since she was small. And so I guess through those years, I’ve had an opportunity to– just through that to be in contact with them. I’m not an ex-member, or anything of that nature. And I– there’s just something that seems past the mark about the whole experience with them. I mean, it– in the beginning years, it was like nobody knew anything about them, uh, they were very mysterious about their meetings and things like that, but nobody could say anything bad about them, type of thing. But the– the bottom line is, for all of those years, and I– I guess it’s been about ten years now, in spite of my efforts and my family’s efforts, we’ve really been out of touch with her. And, you know, they were only up in Ukiah. We had occasion to go there quite a bit, and you know, we’d see her for brief periods, but for the last five years, when they were in Redwood Valley, we never even knew where they lived. And there was really no reason for that, other than whatever was going on with this group. Then they moved down in, oh, I’d say in February of this year to San Francisco. And I thought, well, great, now’s the chance to really, you know, you know, maintain or re– re-establish a relationship. And uh, inside of a week of communicating that thought to her, uh, she was talking to me on the phone one night, telling me how great City College was, and uh, before the phone conversation had finished, she said, oh by the way, I’m– but I’m quitting it all and I’m going to Guyana.

Owens: Oh, by the way? (Laughs)

Harris: By the way.

Owens: Yeah!

Harris: She said, gee, that’s not really what I wanted to tell you, ‘cause she was so excited about starting school. She said, but, oh no, well, she said, but– she said, I– But no, she didn’t say that, I’m sorry. Take that back, Ronn. She said– what she said was, she had a chance to travel to New York and then to South America with a family, who’s going to pay her expenses. Not a word was said about Guyana, or missions, or anything of this nature. Uh, later on, I found out, yeah, she’s in Guyana on part of this mission and so on and so forth, and it was just kind of a– another incident in a series of things where I was told a lie when there was no necessity for it. I thought, well, okay, some– you know, sometimes uh– (coughs) you know, there can be a breakdown in communications as a matter of course, but it doesn’t extend only to me, it extended to my mother – her grandmother – and uh, you know, my brothers, her uncles, and uh, it’s not just isolated. In other words, nobody knows what’s going on. It’s like shrouded in mystery. Uh, I’ve received since some of their literature, and in it, they speak of, well, it was persecution here and persecution there and therefo– it’s almost as if they need to create their enemies to maintain that air.

Owens: Well, the impression that’s been created, at least during this hour, is that a situation is presented to the members of the Peoples Temple down in Guyana indicating how awful life is up here, and that is designed, if nothing else, to reinforce the basic concepts behind the Temple. I mean, at least, that– that’s an outsider’s view as I perceive it, at least during this hour.

Harris: I’m virtually an outsider–

Owens: Yeah.

Harris: –except for the– as well, except for the fact that, you know, there’s my daughter, and I do want to maintain contact with her, I want to know that she’s well. I went to Charles Garry’s office as– a few months ago. I don’t know uh, it mu– it was probably before– I think it was just after the articles in the Chronicle appeared.

Owens: Right.

Harris: And that really alarmed me, when they too– You know, then the articles, they talked about beatings and things of this nature. But wait a minute, what’s going on. So, they referred me– I called over there and I– of course, I didn’t– uh, you know,  I didn’t get any reaction and uh– other than, look, if you got a problem, talk to Charles Garry. And I think that’s when he first came on the scene, or was first asked to represent them. So I went through his office, and he was very kind to me, he s– he arranged to have pictures of– from Guyana showed to me, and some of them were pictures of my daughter, and she’s teaching in the school there. And uh, they looked fine, uh– again– and uh, I was a little concerned because he put a lot of effort in telling me how happy she apparently was as a result of the picture, and we all know what that is, I mean, what– what can you tell from a picture. At that instant the picture was taken, she wasn’t– you know, she was smiling.

Owens: Yeah, for all you know, they coulda said, you can leave (laughs), and that’s what brought on the smile.

Harris: Well, I’m– I’m not going to get try to get paranoid on it (unintelligible under Owens)

Owens: Yeah. Yeah.

Harris: I’m– All– All– As far as I can go is to say I’m really concerned. I said, well, look, I would really like to communicate with my daughter someway or another. Said, well, gee, people are going all the time, we’ll take a letter. I thought, well, I have her P.O. box to write there, so I will write, and– and if– when you are in touch with her, would you please tell her to write me, that I just want to be in touch. And so I sent a letter off, and this is probably two months ago. And I’ve since phoned, I’ve spoken to Marceline Jones, and she said, oh yes, I understand how you feel, you know, because, you know, I– my sons are there and I know how it is, and I’ll sure ask and be sure and tell her to write you. I’ve received nothing. Not one word.

Owens: Okay. I will ask you to do the same. In fact, I’m going to see if I can take perhaps one more call on the Peoples Temple, but I’m giving you all the same advice, because I will do my best to be kind of the go-between, and I’m sure we’ll get a good resolution.

Harris: Well, let– let me ask you this.

Owens: Sure, go ahead.

Harris: Uh, I– I really would appreciate if you stayed with it.

Owens: I have every intention of doing so, because I’m at a point now where I’ve got a guest that I have respected for years, and I have no desire to lose that respect, and I doubt he wants to see that respect lost. In addition to which, purely from a business standpoint, he is the representative of the Reverend Jones and the Temple. And I’ve also got a lot of words being said on both sides on 50,000 watts of public airwaves, and as a result, I think it’s a responsibility to follow it through, and I have every intention of it, which is why I’m trying to see if we can just get a main channeling source, if I could, Marvin’s letters and Sandy’s and Neva’s and yours and everyone else’s, and put them together. I have a feeling that perhaps together, we can work on the whole thing. I– I can tell you that Charles Garry will not con me, because I– first of all, I don’t think he will want to, and secondly, I don’t think it’s his nature, and thirdly, he couldn’t get away with it.

Harris: Yeah, I agree, but it begins to look like uh, at best, he may have been duped.

Owens: Well, if he has been duped, then he will either admit it himself, and I’ll– I’ll mention it on the air, if that’s the impression that I come up with. But I promise you, I will follow it through.

Harris: You know, from my standpoint, I’m looking at this vast distance, it’s over 4000 miles to Guyana.

Owens: Sure.

Harris: Uh– And I’m thinking, you know, that the mission itself appears to be in a very remote spot. It’s a– It’s up some river, uh, uh, quite a ways out of town, and the whole situation, really– It’s like uh– I would like to see people who are totally objective go there and be there for long enough, you know, to really bring back an objective report.

Owens: Well, that’s just it. I mean, again, the impression that I had gotten is quite possibly Charles Garry was given the kind of Shirley MacLaine tour, as Larry calls it–

Harris: –and he wasn’t there long enough.

Owens: –and wasn’t there long enough to make that kind of a– a– the total determination. Let– let me conclude it at that point, okay?

Harris: Okay, Ronn, and I’ll– and I’ll send you a note to put my name on that list (unintelligible word under Owens) to call Charles Garry.

Owens: You’ll send it– Well, exactly, but let me at least get in touch with Garry with as many people as I can, because I think the more numbers of letters that I get of people who say, look, I’ve tried to get in touch either directly or through Charles Garry’s office and I’ve gotten no satisfaction, the more impressive my arguments will be when I’m able to sit down with him.

Harris: Okay, Ronn. Goodbye.

Owens: All right. Thank you. And let us conclude the Peoples Temple discussion on that basis, because we’ve only got one more hour, and I would like to open up the phones to general conversation about a lot of news things that have happened in the last few days. So we can summarize it by simply saying, if you have tried to get in touch with a Peoples uh– Peoples Temple member of your family or a relative or a friend, uh, no matter what the reason, you have been unable to do so and you feel that somewhere along the line, there’s either been some hanky-panky or some stalling or whatever, drop a note to Ronn Owens, KGO, San Francisco. And if you want the specifics, it’s Ronn Owens, KGO Radio, 277 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco 94102, but even Ronn Owens, KGO Radio, San Francisco, to get the zip, 94102, That’ll reach me. And let’s just say within ten days – okay? – within ten days, I want to make sure I get the letter, and at that point, I’ll contact Charles Garry, see if we can serve it together, and hopefully resolve the whole matter in a beautiful and solid fashion, and I will report to the audience.

Here’s another great voice for you to listen to.

(Commercial)

End of tape.

Tape originally posted May 2013

Originally posted on June 16th, 2013.

Last modified on January 14th, 2017.
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