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 “7-1-78 Peoples Rally”
Date cues on tape: Tape contents consistent with note
Vivian Davis, sympathetic relative
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Debbie Layton Blakey
Wade and Mabel Medlock
Kathy Hunter, reporter for Ukiah Daily Journal
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Karen, likely Karen Layton
Marcie, “name of your mother” (most likely Marcia Ann Simon)
Jim Arthur Jones
John Victor Stoen
Bible verses cited:
“That’s what Paul said. You should give your body as what? That was a socialism remote to some of our present day communists. He said you should present your whole body as a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable to your God. And what is your God? Communism.” (Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”)
“A proverb come to me, Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft I’da gathered you under my wings like a hen doth her brood, and you would not. How much I try to protect you, how much I try to build, but if you don’t help yourself, there’s nothing I can do. “ (Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”)
There are a few items of general business to attend to during this Peoples Rally in Jonestown in early July 1978 – the community needs to consider the criteria for choosing a general administrator for the settlement; and there are crop reports to review – but the majority of this tape is a Jim Jones monologue detailing a list of complaints he has. Seeking little engagement from the crowd assembled before him, Jones speaks in alternately weary, petulant, self-pitying, and angry tones about everything he has to endure as their leader. Among the things he has on his mind:
• He has special dietary needs for his work that requires him to eat a lot more protein than other people in Jonestown. He wishes he could eat the way that they do – “I’m so sick of flesh, that I don’t even want to look at it” – but all folks seem to want to do is complain about what they have. The problem really arises in the kitchen, though, that some of the people who prepare his special diet feel that gives them license to eat the same, but they can’t.
• There is a perception of racism in the kitchen, that whites are out front serving and the blacks are in the back, cooking and preparing the food. He orders an immediate change, and says he doesn’t care if they like the change or not. “I know you don’t like me,” he grouses. “I don’t give a shit, principle’s all that matters to me.”
• This complaint goes to deeper issues, though, in that people won’t take responsibility for making decisions, “because you don’t want to be hated.” He knows he’s the one who has to make all the decisions, but everybody is flooding him with problems. People bring him reports that are too long and that arrive too late, even while he is fighting administrative battles stateside.
• There are tangible results of the hatred being expressed towards him, and they are most apparent in Redwood Valley, where black people are no longer safe. “To suit their own vendetta of hate towards me, they will risk every black person’s safety in the whole of Sonoma, Northern California, Mendocino County, or anybody going through there on their way to Washington.”
The source of his anger percolates to the top later in the meeting, when he laments the fact that he “died” on his previous birthday, an image he brings up several times in rapid succession. Six weeks earlier, on May 13, Debbie Layton Blakey defected after he resisted her sexual advances. He had saved her from drugs and debauchery until it caused him physical pain, but she chose that day to betray him. “At that point I gave up that you could communicate goodness. I don’t know whether any of you are ever gonna understand me, and I don’t know whether it’ll ever be possible for anybody to get the good that I have.”
Now she’s in the US telling lies about Jonestown and – more hurtfully – about him. Between the press coverage of her departure and the lawsuits that have been filed against the Temple, he has no peace.
Under normal circumstances, he would be willing to turn himself over to their enemies, and let them do to him what they will. Despite the name of the group organized against them – Concerned Relatives – their attacks on Jonestown’s communications and financial resources show they aren’t concerned about the well-being of their relatives at all, and in fact, the real point of everything they’re doing is to kill him.
So why not save his people by letting their opponents have their way, and turn himself over to them in exchange for peace? “I know that’s not feasible because the place won’t function now. But I sure wish it would.”
Instead, they all have to stand up to their opponents. Even in that battle, though, he is alone. To those Jonestown residents who point out that their own relatives are not part of the opposition, Jones points out that neither are those relatives among the handful who resist Concerned Relatives. “How many of your relatives have written you offering to stand up against them? How many of your relatives have written offering to write the press on our behalf?” he asks rhetorically. “If you’re not of [the Concerned Relatives group], you should be against it.”
And why do these relatives hate him so much in the first place? “It’s Jim Jones that showed them themselves. It’s Jim Jones that made them have to face themselves. It was Jim Jones that made them have to take a look at themselves. That’s what killing them.”
The result is, he has to stay and take care of them. He’s been a slave to the cause and to his people all his life. Even the slaves depicted in the TV miniseries Roots had it better than he has it. “That may sound hard for you to deal with, but nothing I saw in that picture is as horrible as what I’ve had to be.”
Moreover, he is the only one who can claim that kind of pain. The people of Jonestown are so selfish, they will never work as hard as he does. And when he himself takes a break, they think it’s okay for them to take a break. His disdain for them is universal in scope. “Billions have gone before you, suffered so far more than you, that you have no reason to complain.”
Next to this litany, the other aspects of the tape are minor. The only other apparent agenda item for the evening is discussion of the qualifications for a new position of Chief Administrative Officer, who will be able to relieve him of some of his burden. The subject arises several times, as Jones reviews the qualifications necessary for the position. All of these criteria seem to reflect his own unique talents, as he defines them. “I’m saying you people better develop some leadership, but for 47 years, I’ve sacrificed sacrificed sacrificed sacrificed.” The tape ends before anyone offers a candidate who could rival Jones himself.
The weariness, the sense of betrayal he feels, all head towards a climax towards the end of the tape. He is not going to make the decisions for what other people should do if their “trial ever came” (although he leaves the word “trial” undefined). He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, or how they should respond as a group, but then says, “I don’t know anything but the fact that everybody dies… Everybody has to go through pain and suffering and death. So why not make it for a revolutionary purpose, a beautiful goal, something that makes us above the animals, ‘cause there’s no way around the suffering.” A few moments later, as the tape comes to an end, he laments how much he has done for his thousand followers and adds, “I’ve gone a long way, and I’m entitled to some peace.”
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 1B93-20. This tape was found to contain the following:
Rev. JIM JONES’ presentation to PT members in Jonestown, Guyana, about the problems of the community. JONES talks about revolutionary death and dying at 22 minutes into the tape. He continues to talk about “committing suicide over his child as is his right to do.” JONES admonishes the people “to raise a lot of hell if anybody comes for him, JOHN or anybody else then raise a lot of hell”. This was at 24 minutes into this tape. Tape ends with JONES in mid-sentence claiming that “none of them that they have come for were any of his relatives, other than his adopted…”
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted June 2012