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 “Sat Nite Aug 19”
Date cues on tape : 19 Aug 78 (notation on tape box, confirmed in context)
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Ian Smith, Prime Minister of Rhodesia
Chinese premier Hua Kuo-feng, by reference
Former Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung
Congo national hero Patrice Lumumba
Victor Jara, Chilean singer
Cheddi Jagan, Guyana political leader
Janet Rosenberg Jagan, wife of Cheddi Jagan
President Jimmy Carter
California Governor Jerry Brown
California Attorney General Evelle Younger
U.S. Senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi)
U.S. Rep. John Burton (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Phil Burton (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Ronald Dellums (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Charles Diggs (D-MI)
U.S. Rep. Miller (unknown New York Congressman)
Carl Stokes, black writer, former mayor of Cleveland
U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH)
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg
David Greenglass, witness in Rosenberg spy case, brother of Ethel Rosenberg
Harry Gold, convicted spy
Prof. Fuchs, German associated with Rosenberg case
Alfred E. Kahn, American writer and journalist, member of CPUSA [see Note]
James Earl Ray
Martin Luther King
Don Freed (screen writer, Mark Lane associate)
Memphis reporter (by reference)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis
American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks
Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara
Unita Blackwell Wright, black mayor of Fayetteville, Mississippi
Joseph Freitas, S.F. District Attorney, by reference
San Francisco Sun-Reporter publisher Carlton Goodlett
Joe Mazor (private detective hired by Concerned Relatives)
Elmer & Deanna Mertle (aka Al & Jeannie Mills)
Grace & Tim Stoen
Shabaka (?) Baker
Carl (last name unintelligible, several in Jonestown)
Carolyn (Layton or Looman)
Dawn (Probably Dawn Mitchell)
Dianne (a black woman, several in JT)
Donny (Many Don’s in Jonestown)
Jackson, black woman
Jane (probably Owens)
Anita (Kelley?) There is a later reference to “Anita Darrell, Anita Devers.” There is a confirmed death of a person named Darrell A. Devers
Mae (probably Griffith)
Tyrone (probably Cartmell)
Wilson (first name unintelligible, many Wilson’s)
Andrew (?) Young
Jim Morrell (better known as Jim Bogue)
Johnny Moss Brown
Ruby Carroll (speaks)
Mary Ann Casanova
Gene Chaikin (speaks)
Millie Cunningham (speaks)
James “Reb” Edwards
Emmett Griffith, Jr.
Emmett Griffith, Sr.
Pauline Groot (speaks)
Tom Grubbs (speaks)
Marie Rankin, also known as Marie Lawrence
John Victor Stoen
Joyce Touchette (speaks)
Harriet Sarah Tropp
Bible verses cited:
Reference made to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3)
“I’ll talk your religious shit now. He said, I’ll have you hot or cold. The lukewarm, the in-between, I spew out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”)
Recorded during an evening meeting of the Jonestown community in August 1978, this long tape includes Jones quizzing different (mainly unidentified) community members about the news of the day, recent movies, and important historical events, such as the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg in the early 1950s and James Earl Ray’s alleged confession of his assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King in 1968. There are also numerous preparations for the arrival of different visitors, including Temple attorney Mark Lane and author Don Freed, San Francisco newspaper publisher and Temple supporter Carlton Goodlett, and unnamed officials of the Guyanese government. Jones also reviews various legal and political actions taken against them, either in demonstrating the existence of a conspiracy against Peoples Temple, or in making points to bolster arguments for learning the news and strengthening the community.
The tape opens with Jones instructing the people about being careful in answering questions posed by visitors; he says that he should answer the questions whenever possible, but gives people general guidance about the types of things to say about Jonestown. He’ll help people make a point about the things they do within the community, but they should be aware of the impressions they make on guests. He adds that he catches things that they miss.
This theme recurs throughout the tape. Jones warns the people about complaining about food and about coming up in the pathway and giving him “your damn notes.” Further, he says, people shouldn’t shout at each other, especially over the P.A. system. In addition to that disturbing the little sleep he gets, he reminds them how their guests are “looking for every little flaw… They won’t see socialism.”
(The complaint about using the P.A. system to page or to berate someone does lead to discussion and a longer decision-making process in which the leadership – not just Jones – works out a way to use the P.A. system. The administrative aspect of the meeting continues as Jones leads a conversation about who will lead the press tours of Jonestown.)
Along the way, Jones expresses anger that when he was thirsty, no one thought to give him water, that he had to ask twice for it. And then when someone got the water, it was a black woman. “I said, don’t you give me no goddamn water… You white people on that committee ought to have enough sense to grab that shit without me telling you that. What the hell do you think [visitors would have] thought of me if a black young woman would hold my water, and I take the damn water and drink. Hmm?… You gotta watch appearances if you’re a socialist.”
Late in the session, Jones says the visitors should point out a certain woman whose face was scarred by racists. “[P]oint out all the people … that suffered under racism back there. That’s our reason for moving. Racism. … There’ve been seniors that … were whipped.” Even as the tape ends more than two hours later, Jones tells people to talk about the nutritious food they eat.
Jones spends time reminding people to report suspicious occurrences. People who should be reported include those who have numerous romances, who make a lot of friends, who are nosy and ask a lot of questions. A Guyanese official had told Jones it was amazing what the community had done, but there was undoubtedly CIA infiltration. “When you hear gossip, report it. When you hear it and don’t report it, or you see somebody doing something strange or negative or violating rules and don’t report it, you may be helping a murderer.”
Jones then warns people about asking questions about Venezuela, but it’s unclear if that’s due to Guyana’s delicate relations with its neighbor, or the lure of a close border to would-be defectors. He tells people who insist on asking about Venezuela that they can go if they like, but “if you get into Venezuela, I’m confident, you ain’t going to get back to USA alive.”
Jones asks people about the movie The Parallax View, and draws parallels between the movie and the situation in Jonestown. They also discuss Executive Action (which Freed wrote), the political film Z and The Killer That Stalked New York.
In the course of questioning people about news from Rhodesia, Jones returns to the CIA theme, and reminds them that only one Senator truly has oversight over the CIA: John Stennis. And it was when the Temple caught two men acting on Sen. Stennis’ orders that the church’s real problems started. And what were Stennis’ agents doing there? They weren’t there to spy – they could already do that – but “if I had my bet, they had explosions in there to blow us all to hell… Satchel that big? That thick? … Hell, they coulda blowed that church with the modern weapons they have, blowed that fuckin’ church to smithereens.” Four days after the Temple tracked down the identity of the agents, Temple enemies, including the Mertles, the Stoens and Jim Cobb, suddenly had enough money to hire a public relations firm to smear the Temple.
Jones repeats his complaint about Joe Mazor, the private investigator hired by the Concerned Relatives, and says that Governor Jerry Brown has to be involved in the conspiracy, because he gave Mazor his license, even though it’s unlawful to let a convicted felon have a license.
In a later return to the conspiracy theme, Jones reminds people that the government offered a deal to American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks if he would speak out against the Temple – which had defended him in his legal troubles – but he wouldn’t.
He continues to ask people the facts about the news, and provides the editorial analysis himself. He argues, for example, that racism prevails in Cleveland, because elections are held on Sunday, when black people are in church. Whites use religion to enslave blacks, he says, just as they have since they first brought them over from Africa. The whites even say, it’s part of God’s will.
Jones explains how the Arabs in the Middle East were uniting against Israel and forgetting their own differences for the larger cause, and draws parallels with the troubles that Jonestown faces. In a rhythmic exhortation, he leads the crowd: “Don’t you have any enemies that are greater than any difference you have with somebody here in Peoples Temple? …Don’t you have something worse back there to hate? Didn’t you come out of something worse? … Don’t you have some relatives you could hate?…You hate their ways for what they’ve done? …Don’t you hate them for this terrible thing, they tried to frame [Jim] McElvane?”
He wonders aloud if it will take the shooting of someone to get people concerned about the dangers they face. He then reminds people that he had been shot at, and that planes had overflown the community. He then becomes somewhat defensive – as if offering the Jonestown community his response to accusations made by the Concerned Relatives – and says that he didn’t hire the plane himself. “I’m not going to hire no goddamn plane as a gimmick… I ain’t starting no White Nights for gimmickry… They did try to invade us. They did come in with a massive conspiracy and stole everything we had in the supply.” They have to remain vigilant, he says, and instead, “we’re getting soft.”
When the final White Night comes, he adds, it’ll be an “omega.”
Jones becomes defensive again late in the tape, when he explains why he can’t remember someone’s name, even though it’s repeated three times in succession. “I know more about faith, because that’s what a person who loves has to determine, to help people with what’s wrong with them rather than their name. It’s superficial to know their names and nothing about people, but we ought to be able to do both.”
Jones directs a long discourse on the inevitability of nuclear war, and poses a question as to whether the delay of such a war wouldn’t be worse, because more people would be killed. When a community member expresses what Jones refers to as “your own moral reasons” arguing against that position, Jones leads her through a series of questions showing why war was inevitable. At the end of the colloquy, when the woman says she supposes she let her emotions get away from her, Jones replies, “One thing you can never do, is allow your emotions to get in the way of your socialist philosophy.”
Suddenly switching gears, Jones asserts that the USSR and China have built bomb shelters for their citizens – not like the US – and then says, people have a right to life, a right to give communism a chance.
Exploring the theme, Jones says people don’t want to die, he says, “[b]ut if you were going to die, what would you do? Everybody ought to have it worked out in their mind… You ought to know. Every socialist ought to know. You ought to have a little plan.” He tells the community not to search for death, and that by taking care of themselves – by which he means doing things like not smoking – they can survive. “You gotta follow all the rules, you want to live longer and healthy, keep alive and get resurrection. That should not be an end, but we should try to stay alive, be less complaining and follow all rules.”
Good people die, he continues. His mother died in Jonestown, one of three deaths there to date. In her final days, Lynetta Jones wanted to return to the States to kill Tim Stoen.
In discussing the Rosenberg case, Jones gets upset with young people who haven’t paid attention to the history lessons they’ve been getting in school. “You want to hold on to your jive-ass romance and your jive-ass music, and all that shit, well you won’t be able to play that jive-ass music when radiation’s killing us off … because you lower your resistance – and that’s the way you lower it, by not learning socialism – something’s going to happen to you, someplace.”
The conversation about the Rosenbergs leads Jones to excoriate those who testify as government witnesses as being “finks.” Never testify against anyone in a criminal trial, he says, because there is no such thing as a fair trial for the poor and the black, since the prosecution holds all the cards. (In other tapes, Jones talks about the seeming contradiction between being a fink and being an informer within the Jonestown community: a fink advances the racist, capitalist state, whereas an informer strengthens the socialist community of Jonestown, where reporting is honorable.)
Jones talks about cases in which Temple members have been defendants. He recalls how he saved people from going to jail, and adds, “they ain’t taking my children. That’s a commitment I made years ago, they’re not taking my children.” He says one Temple member was guilty, everyone knew he was guilty, the defense case was full of holes and the defense testimony was inconsistent. But he got off. “I know what won it, when I packed that courtroom full of you starin’ at the fuckin’ jury… Some of you were there – to pack that goddamn jury room. And … they thought, we better let this cat off, Ocause that sonofabitch, if – if he gets in jail, we got 200 faces out there.”
A senior is confused over what Mao Tse-tung said about political power, or perhaps she expresses her own beliefs, when she said that “you can keep [the revolution] by being at peace and being honorable.” Jones speaks to her sharply, and leads her into the real answer: “Change must come through the barrel of gun.” He then says they don’t have many guns – even though the Guyana government suggests they arm themselves better to enforce their law – and then ventures the observation that Jonestown “would be a paradise tomorrow if every department had a supervisor with a submachine gun.” In the general hubbub and banter that follows, someone in the crowd shouts, “I don’t have one.” There is laughter.
One of the administrative discussions ends with a vote, and Jones is angry when people don’t participate in the democratic action. “You fuckin’ people who won’t vote, you have just voted…. Those who don’t vote are more upsetting to me than those who vote against me.” In his only reliance upon a religious theme on the tape, Jones quotes from the book of Revelation to say that he – referring to the “faithful and true witness of God – says: “I’ll have you hot or cold. The lukewarm, the in-between, I spew out of my mouth.”
Date of transcription: 6/27/79
Side Number 1: Reverend JIM JONES talks about the conspiracy against the PT and the alleged use of two U.S. Air Force men by Senator JOHN STENNIS against the PT in San Francisco. JONES also talks about arming his body guards with weapons.
Side Number 2: JIM JONES talks about CHRIS LEWIS at 31:30 minutes and his dealings with the MERTLE’s and threatening them in a supermarket.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted May 1999