Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
To read the Tape Transcript, click here. Listen to MP3 (Side 1, Side 2).
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FBI Catalogue: Jones speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 60/April 12 Peoples Ralley [Rally]
Date cues on tape: 12 April 1978 (notation on tape box consistent with context)
Olusegun Obasanjo, head of military government of Nigeria, by reference
Taisto Kalevi Sorsa, Prime minister of Finland, by reference
Prime minister of Zambia, by reference
Prime minister of Tanzania, by reference
Mohammed Ali Al-Halabi, Prime minister of Syria, by reference
John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, by reference
President Jimmy Carter
Wallace Deen Muhammad, Black Muslim leader
Elaine Brown, Black Panther exile in Iran
Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Bev (either Beverly Mitchell or Beverly Livingston)
Carol (several in Jonestown; “Carol” speaks two places, separated by 40 minutes in time, and may be two different women)
Carter (Tim or Mike)
Gloria (several in Jonestown)
Jan (several “Janice’s” or “Jann’s” in Jonestown; probably Jann Gurvich)
Joe (several “Joe’s” and “Joseph’s” in Jonestown; probably Joe Beam)
Johnny (probably Johnny Moss Brown)
Jackson (no one with first name of Jackson; several with last)
Karen (many in Jonestown)
Maria (Probably Maria Katsaris; could be Maria McCann)
“Parks girl” (either Brenda or Tracy)
Rose (older woman; either Rose Sharon or Rose Shelton)
Sharon (several in Jonestown, probably Sharon Amos)
Martin Amos (speaks)
Ernestine Blair (speaks)
Jocelyn Brown (speaks)
Mary Ann Casanova
Ronnie Dennis (speaks)
Reb (James Edwards) (speaks)
Marshall Farris (speaks)
Lew Jones (speaks)
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Tom Kice (speaks)
Teresa King (speaks)
Charlie Touchette (speaks)
Joyce Touchette, aka Joyce Swinney (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
This community meeting in Jonestown begins with Jones expressing his disappointment that people aren’t paying attention to the news which he broadcasts.
After unsuccessfully quizzing several people about what was going on in Nigeria that day, he says, “You’d think you were doing me a service this shit. I’m only trying to equip you for the day that I finally fall over with a stroke, and the movement has to continue without me.” When he asks a more general question about who knows the news about Nigeria, he counts about 21 people with their hands in the air, but “some of ’em lying. I can tell the way you’re holding your hand, you’re lying.”
His criticism of people who don’t know the news doesn’t extend to everyone, though. He excuses one person who fumbled through the details, saying that Tom Kice has a growing comprehension of political knowledge and of issues related to the transition from Jones.
On several occasions, Jones mentions the need for an orderly transition after he leaves, although the reason for the departure is never consistent. He does raise the issue of his health several times, and how the misdeeds of the Jonestown community affects it. “Nothing gets me as you lie to me, take me for a fool.” He complains about his burdens of supervising the daily operations, then asks about every aspect of community life. In explaining his role, he says, “I represent you, the will of the people.” Reconsidering, he continues, “No, I don’t know that I represent the will of the people, I represent the best interest of the people. The will of the people probably be to destroy their fool selves.”
In reviewing the news, he becomes upset with the Muslims who hijacked an airplane, but then wouldn’t take it to Syria, because it’s a client state of the Soviet Union and therefore officially atheist. They went somewhere else instead, and got themselves killed. “[T]heir belief in God got ’em killed,” he says. Returning to the subject later, he repeats, “If they hadn’t been religious, hadn’t believed in God, and Islam, and all that Mohammeded shit … they woulda been in Syria, safe.” He adds that their punishment was deserved. “So let ’em die. Let the fuckers hang. I hope they die. I hope they die slow. Any pricks that haven’t got no more backbone than that ought to die.” According to Jones, it was an opportunity for a White Night — seemingly defined as a blow against capitalistic order — and they blew it.
Later, in talking about Japan’s Red Army, Jones speaks of the difference between an atheist and a “true communist.” When the Red Army hijacks a plane, “[t]hey don’t let no civilians off the plane. They don’t let nobody… so they all die. ‘Don’t come near the plane. We’ll blow us all up.'”
The analysis segues into a discourse on his fatalistic philosophy of life. “Life is a disease, and the only fuckin’ cure for it is death. And any form that it takes … will be better than the disease… And socialists can only take one form of death. What is it? Fight a goddamn war, or revolutionary suicide. If you don’t believe life’s a disease, then you’re dumb.”
Life is filled with pain, Jones says. He starts cataloguing the losses people have had, how many have been crippled by capitalism, and asks, “You think that’s a fair universe?” There is no orderly creation to the universe, which he describes as “an accident… I don’t believe in any grand, good design. Too much disorder. Too much pain. Too much suffering.”
The fatalism also leads him to disparage loving relationships between couples. People think they’re in love, he says, but “next week, somebody’s gonna fall out with them. And the more you see each other, the less they love you.” Even worse, he continues, “you’re killing each other, dying, living with each other 24 hours a day.” Without these relationships, he concludes, “we might be able to get on with the revolution better.”
As for your relationship with the children, and the remaining difficulty you might have about killing them, don’t worry, “it won’t be that heavy.”
When Jones leaves though — whatever the circumstances — the people will need to follow Marceline or whoever else is in charge. They’ll have the power to continue and to prevent escapes. And if people do run and get back to the States, there would be no peace. “[T]hey’ll hound you all the rest of days.”
Jones criticizes community members for displays of arrogance and for efforts to interpret his words. He also says people need to confront each other, instead of continually bringing the problems to him. He gets two of them in confrontation — and the black woman and white man work it out — but after they reach resolution, Jones offers advice to the man: “I’ll tell you what’ll help you, every time a black woman comes at you, think that there’s better than equal … chance that she’s been raped as a child… Think of the color.”
Date of transcription: 3/17/79
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 March 6, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47, 41. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES discusses, with a group of people, current events around the world.
On Side B of the tape, JONES and other persons discuss problems regarding the everyday functioning of the “Collective”. At one point, JONES tells a female that she “has sat with a man that blew up trains” and “all these god damn people; some of them disappeared right now that’s been in this conspiracy”.
Differences with FBI Summary:
As with many FBI summaries, this captures the one or two most spectacular quotes on the tape, but does not begin to give a sense of the overall tone.
Tape originally posted May 1999