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 “Peoples Ralley [Rally] 7-9-78”
Date cues on tape: Likely July 11 or July 12 (Rockefeller death on July 10, 1978)
Karl Marx, German economist, father of communism
Ben Chavis, civil rights activist
Marcus Garvey, Pan-African black nationalist
Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist
Martin Luther King, civil rights activist
Malcolm X, black activist with Nation of Islam
Elijah Muhammad, leader of Nation of Islam
Wallace Deen Muhammad, leader of Nation of Islam
Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACPJohn D. Rockefeller, III, member of family of capitalist titans
Thomas Fleming, editor of Sun Reporter
Huey Newton, leader of Black Panther Party
Elaine Brown, Member of Black Panthers
Dennis R. Denny, Mendocino county social services director
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Donneter Lane, head of the Council of Churches
John V Moore, father of two Temple members
Paul Avery (phonetic)
Katie Coleman (phonetic)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Debby Layton Blakey
Temple members not in Jonestown:
Ebony Duncan (by reference)
Tom Grubbs (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Nicole Bissett. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones leads a community meeting in Jonestown in mid-July 1978. While there are a number of tape edits that rob the meeting of its complete context – is Jones quizzing his followers on recent news stories and then elaborating upon their answers? Is he fielding questions from the people in attendance? Did he plan to speak on specific issues beyond his main news, or was it stream of consciousness? – there is no doubt that the Temple leader has called everyone together to discuss the lawsuit which his attorneys in California have filed against former member Tim Stoen.
The lawsuit is liberating in a number of ways. It represents a counter-attack to the actions that Stoen has taken. While it seeks financial damages, its real purpose is to put a number of charges against Stoen on the public record so that the Temple can’t be sued for repeating them. The charges – if substantiated in court – will also hurt Stoen where it counts, according to Jones, in that it could result in his disbarment. “This is better than bullets, baby,” Jones exults at one point. “This is better than bullets.”
And the charges Jones discusses are serious. According to Jones, Stoen advised people how to avoid paying taxes, he took custody of hundreds of guns from Temple members – guns that never showed up in Jonestown – and he used his position in the DA’s office of Mendocino County to threaten lawsuits in order to accomplish his own purposes.
“His fucking name is gonna be ruined, and that’s worse than him dying,” Jones adds at another point. “We don’t kill a little old piece of white ass like his. Let him suffer to death!”
Jones spends time on other topics as well. He has discussed the attractiveness of the people who have given their lives to the cause in other tapes – and he refers to that here as well – but he spend more time on the flip side of the coin, criticizing those people who spend time trying to beautify themselves, and reminding them how the physical assets of which they’re so proud will eventually shrivel and fail, and how ugly they will become.
There are other sexual references in this tape. He reminds his followers about the sexual sacrifices he’s made for the cause. Dying would have been easier, he says. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was less painful than his own, because Jesus’ ordeal ended in the finality of death, whereas his own torment goes on.
Finally, there are several references to death sprinkled throughout the evening, but his references to suicide are negative. He reports early in the tape that many car accidents are actually suicides of people who “were tired of … feeling all the misery of US living,” but if he were to die that way, he’d make sure to find a way to take out a white driver of a big black Cadillac with him. Still, he adds, “suicide … is wrong, because you owe a debt to society, as long as black people are sufferin’, you haven’t got no right to die and get out of your pain, ‘till everybody can be out of their pain.” His final words on the tape are also about suicide – “we don’t believe in suicide, and that’s the damn truth” – but this was more likely a talking point for Jonestown residents to tell outsiders.
Nevertheless, while he never speaks the words “revolutionary suicide,” he uses the same language in an offhand way that he would use on Jonestown’s final day. In a casual and familiar tone, Jones talks about the success of their project and how it might end. “We’ve had a purpose, and as Jack Beam said, if it didn’t last a day, at least we tried to do something, and we showed an example of what life oughta be, and we stood up and spoke up against the goddamn system, and we laid it out that we were socialist,” he says halfway through the tape, and then a moment later adds, “So why not die for somethin’ right, rather than die for no reason at all? That’s one thing for sure. You know if you die here, you’ve died for somethin’ right.”
It is unknown whether Jones was suffering from the impairment of either alcohol of drugs during the evening, although his voice suggests he might have been. His stream of consciousness discourse also seems slightly more exaggerated here than usual. A long discussion about Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, the Black Muslim movement and the Back-to-Africa movement of Marcus Garvey leads Jones to speculate what genuine good King could have done, had he embraced socialism as Jones did, which leads him to discuss how the Temple did it in the states, but how they had to leave before they were taken down by the system, and how well they have done in Jonestown, without the fears they had in their home country.
Date of transcription: 6/11/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On May 30, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B93-8. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES at “People’s Rally” with questions, answers, and criticisms. Announcements follow concerning the TIM STOEN law suit, the death of Rockefeller and a “New Times” magazine article on HUEY NEWTON, the Black Panther Party (BPP) and ELAINE BROWN..
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2013