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: One Audio Magnetics 60/April 13 meeting
Date cues on tape : 13 April 1978 (notation on tape box confirmed in context)
Hubert Jack, Guyana Minister of Energy and Natural Resources
Frank Rizzo, Philadelphia mayor
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Mr. & Mrs. Moton
Glen Moton, Jr.
Oliver family, including Beverly
Elois Christine Cobb
Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Sue (probably Grimm) (speaks)
Rochelle (probably Halkman)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Sandy Jones (aka Sandra Yvette Cobb)
Glen Moton (speaks)
Deanna Kay Moton
Russell Moton (speaks)
Bible verses cited : None
This tape of a Jonestown community meeting in mid-April 1978 shows how threatened Jones – and by extension, the whole of Jonestown – was by the absence of several of Guyana’s political leaders and the unwelcome arrival of relatives in Georgetown.
The conversation begins as Jones laments the possible fascist takeover of Guyana during the absence of Guyana’s top political leadership for two weeks, as they visit the Soviet Union. He adds that this doesn’t mean that Jonestown would be immediately attacked (later, he points out that the deaths of 1000 people wouldn’t go unnoticed, should the forces against them try something). Their numbers give them power and security, but they have to be alert. What they have to consider, he says, are two things: “our revolutionary significance [and] our survival, in that order.” He soon adds that: “The temptation in a world without principle is for me to put it in reverse order.”
While there is other conversation about death and White Nights throughout the tape, the references are almost off-handed, e.g., wondering what would happen if a White Night occurred while a relative was around. Halfway through end of the tape, Jones notes that such an event would be hard for someone unfamiliar with the community to go through. As for them, he says, “we’ve come through so many of them, you get immune to some degree, because you know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Nevertheless, as he reminds his people at another point, “We’d love not to have enemies trying to get after us, but … the principles are worth the risk. We said that all of our life… anything worth living for is worth dying for, and anything worth having is worth fighting for.”
Most of the tape is a discussion of whether relatives of the Motons should come into Georgetown, much less Jonestown. They devise different strategies for keeping relatives away – the weather is better later in the year, they need to build more guest cottages – but the real problem is, as Jones says, the “[w]orst thing could happen is for your relatives to visit until we have total peace.” He adds that people can come if they don’t have any “undue attachments” – i.e., relatives they want to take out with them, no connection with Concerned Relatives – but that means the community really needs to know the visitors’ “consciousness” before they can come in. The difficulty, as they discuss at the end of the tape, is that the experience with the Oliver family was so negative – with an assassination attempt on Marceline – that it has fallout for other relatives who want to visit.
One woman – never identified by name, although related to the Motons – is the subject of much discussion. Jones, Marceline and the Motons decide she might be sympathetic anyway, because she hasn’t tried to get any of her relatives out. They can always use a little coercion to persuade her to compliment the place when she goes back. As Jones tells the family members, “You can make it very damn clear, if you go back and lie, Mom, we’re through. If you don’t go back and tell how beautiful this place is, we’re finished. That way would be an incentive for her to go back and talk about the beauty of this place.”
One of the Moton relatives is a man who might want to come and stay permanently, someone who is in danger of going to jail. He’s a black cop, though, and that creates concern. He’s been in trouble with the law, after blowing the whistle on his comrades, so Jones thinks that the trouble he’s in may be a set-up in revenge; on the other hand, since he has been a cop, he could be an agent. The story of the whistle-blowing convinces Jones the man is legitimate, and decides to take him in. Jonestown is better than a jail in Philadelphia, he says.
Jones also talks about reading mail going in and out of Jonestown, but can’t keep his stories completely straight. First he says they read incoming mail, because once it gets to Georgetown from the US, it could still be another two weeks getting to the interior, and if there’s a problem, they can deal with it early. “I hope you all appreciate that that is a good thing to do.” Then he says they’re more concerned about outgoing mail. “We’re not so much worried about incoming mail as we are outcoming mail. Frankly. It’s the outcoming mail that can be devastating, when people make codes in flowers like some of our people have.” He seems to feel defensive about the practice, though, and says more than once, if they hadn’t found out about something by reading the mail, the situation would’ve been more serious.
Date of transcription : 3/9/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 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 March 6, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape 1B47 number 29. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES, talking to an unknown person, asks if anything is known about a charter plane with doctors coming in. JONES says “that way we’ll know if they’re planning anything on the airstrip. Nobody would ever dare invade here by helicopter I don’t think”. “We could knock them all out”, referring to the helicopters.
JONES talking to his congregation, “we have absolute information that they are not content until they kill every last one of us. You know why they want to kill every last one of us, because they are afraid one of you will get back and get them”. Clapping from the audience.
JIM JONES, talking to his congregation about a potential female visitor to Jonestown, says, “if they get near her we’ll kill ’em, they are supposed to stay away from her. You mother fuckers better not get near her, I mean we will drop you in a shit hole”. Loud clapping from the audience follows. This female visitor has children living in Jonestown.
Differences with FBI Summary:
Selected quotes unrepresentative of tape
Tape originally posted April 1999