Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue : Radio transmissions
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 90/Chester Hartman
Date cues on tape : Summer 1977; before publication of New West article
People named :
Public figures/National and international names:
Patricia Hearst (#5)
Shirley MacLaine, actress (#5)
Bill Moyers, CBS correspondent (#5)
Unita Blackwell Wright, mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi (by reference) (#5)
Marshall Kilduff, New West writer (#3, 4)
Nathaniel Muhammad, San Francisco Nation of Islam (speaks) (#2)
Phil Tracy, New West writer (#3)
Charles Walker, unidentified friend of Chris Lewis (speaks) (#4)
Chris Lewis (speaks) (#4)
Mike Prokes (speaks) (#2, #3, #5)
Harriet Sarah Tropp (speaks) (#1)
Bible verses cited : None
This tape consists of five separate segments.
Part 1 is a short ham radio transmission of a message – recorded three times with small variations, none of which are very clear – from an unidentified male to the Jonestown community.
In Part 2, Temple spokesman Michael Prokes speaks on the phone with Nathaniel Muhammad to express Jim Jones’ regrets that he cannot attend a function to which he had been invited. Jones had worked himself to exhaustion, Prokes says, and is in Guyana recuperating.
In Part 3, Prokes speaks with an unidentified reporter – with whom he also spoke in tape Q 629 – about Marshall Kilduff’s upcoming story on the Temple. Prokes asks if Kilduff has made additional contact with the reporter, and when the reporter says no, then asks to be alerted if Kilduff does make the attempt. The reporter is non-committal in his response. Prokes also says that Kilduff is acting unprofessionally, specifically in his harassment of Temple members who won’t talk with him.
In Part 4, Temple member Chris Lewis speaks with an unidentified friend named Charles Walker about Kilduff. From the favors asked and response given, Walker apparently has some connection to the police or city government. He also tells Lewis he knows why people are looking into Jim Jones. “Because, some of them guys that supposed to be bodyguards of Jim Jones carry a gun. And they know it. And one of them men with the Housing Authority police, saw one of them … packing.” The Housing Authority police then contacted the city police, and that started the investigation. Later in the conversation, Walker adds, “But they are really really really really trying to find out what’s with Jim Jones, man.”
In Part 5, taking up Side 2 of the tape, Prokes and Temple leader Jean Brown are at a community meeting in Sacramento to discuss urban issues, like crime, welfare and housing. The unidentified moderator of the event speaks of the need of federal funds to go to the parts of the city that deserve it. Prokes says that it is the obligation of each church to take care of the “household of the faith,” and that if churches took on the responsibility of the welfare of their members, the government would be freed to do other things.
In the Peoples Temple, Prokes says, such things occur every day, and it is done with the consent of the congregation. They have a democratic process at the Temple, one which recognizes the right of dissenting voices to speak. Sometimes, Prokes adds, a few voices can swing a decision the other way, to bring the majority around to the understanding of the minority.
In response to a question about feeding programs, Prokes says the Temple works with coops and supermarkets to pick up food that would otherwise go to waste. In the Temple, people know that starvation is a problem around the world, and are reminded by the pictures hanging in the dining hall. “We don’t put [the pictures] up there to make people feel guilty, but I’m not so sure they shouldn’t feel guilt. It may not be their responsibility, or their fault, that that person is hungry, but it seems to me that … if we care about people and … we claim love as Jesus taught, then … that love should reach out to everyone, including those who are hungry.”
Brown talks about educating children in the church, and encouraging disadvantaged and retarded children to excel. She also speaks about the senior programs, including the extension of Sunday services to ensure that seniors have rides to and from church and to doctors’ appointments during the week.
Prokes then speaks about the church’s work on criminal justice issues, and the number of people whom the Temple has helped in staying out of jail or in having productive lives once they leave jail. That leads him into a more political discussion, as he claims that people are arrested for being black or poor, and that many of them are “set up and harassed and framed.” He then says that “the rich are able to buy their way to freedom … because money is what’s behind this society. It is the root of all evil.”
Finally, Prokes tells the gathering about the men from an Air Force Base in Senator John Stennis’ state of Mississippi who spied upon members of the Temple, how the Temple confronted the men and found out who they were, and how Washington has covered it up. He ascribes the spying to the fact that the Temple was listening that night to a black woman mayor from Mississippi, and that Stennis considered her a threat.
FBI Summary :
Date of transcription: 3/16/79
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 3/8/79, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #75. This tape was found to contain the following:
Transmissions from short wave radio from Jones and telephone conversations regarding 1) People’s Temple representative at a religious meeting (possibly Elijah Mohammad); 2) a rebellious temple member; (3) article being written about the temple.
Side B sounds like a committee meeting of sorts, where needs are discussed and that church should reach out to help.
Nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be of evidentiary nature or beneficial to the investigation of Congressman RYAN.
Differences with FBI Summary :
The summary is in error in several respects.
o The transmission is probably not from Jim Jones. The voice is garbled in the ham radio transmission, but the identification appears to be of someone else.
o The Temple representative – spokesman Mike Prokes – is not at a religious meeting, nor is he speaking with Elijah Muhammad. Prokes is speaking on the telephone with Nathaniel Muhammad about substituting another Temple member for Jones, who was scheduled to attend a meeting of the Nation of Islam.
o Of the two remaining segments on side 1, neither includes “a rebellious temple member.” In both segments, Temple members – Mike Prokes in one, Chris Lewis in another – are trying to get more information about Marshall Kilduff and his New West article, and to discredit the work Kilduff has already done.
Tape originally posted January 1999