Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Unidentified Individuals Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 90/ 9/8/76
Date cues on tape: 8 September 1976 (notation on tape box, confirmed in context)
Former President Lyndon Baines Johnson
Former President John F. Kennedy
Former President Richard Nixon
Dennis Banks, Native American activist
Ka-mook Banks, wife
Pope John XXIII
FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley (by reference)
Jack Anderson, newspaper columnist
Harry Reames, pornography star
California governor Jerry Brown
California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally (by reference)
San Francisco mayor George Moscone (by reference)
San Francisco Police Chief Charles Gain
Dr. Carlton Goodlett, S.F. newspaper publisher
Cecil Williams, minister at Glide Methodist Church
Susan Bartholomew, crime victim (by reference)
(first name unknown) Main, man convicted for crime
Kitty Genovese, crime victim (by reference)
Peoples Temple members:
Marceline Jones (by reference)
Laetitia Leroy, aka Tish Leroy
Mike Prokes (speaks)
Peoples Temple members, full name unknown:
Bible verses cited: Matthew 25:34-40
(Note: This was one of 53 tapes which the FBI initially withheld from disclosure.)
This tape consists of two substantive segments – a radio interview with Jim Jones, and a telephone conversation between Peoples Temple leader Mike Prokes and a former member named Kay – as well as several short segments. The only one of the short segments with any contextual sense is a television news items about the Fresno 4, a group of reporters who risked jail rather than reveal their sources for a series of news stories. The item includes a quote by Jim Jones.
In the first segment, a public affairs reporter – most likely for KPFK radio in San Francisco, although he never identifies the station – tapes a lengthy interview with Jim Jones, with an eye towards editing it for a future broadcast. The interview opens with a brief discussion of the church’s activism with the Fresno 4. However, the interview is wide-ranging, covering Jim Jones’ belief in God; the role of the church in society; the relationship between church and state; and the government’s reception of church-based community groups. The reporter also asks about the services which Peoples Temple provides to San Francisco, and whether Jones believes the church is making any impact upon the social problems facing the city.
The interview provides a general description of Peoples Temple activities in 1976, ranging from services to Vietnam veterans, to health care and shelter to senior citizens, to legal aid for poor people. Jones also describes the assistance the Temple gave to Dennis Banks, the Native American activist who was fighting extradition to South Dakota.
The forum gives Jones an opportunity to articulate his personal politics, which includes criticism of multinationals, support for better health care, and a call for the rich to pay their “fair share” of taxes.
Jones does hesitate when the interviewer asks, “What is our moral responsibility to our fellow men and women?” At first he asks if they’re on the air – they’re not; it’s a taped segment, and the interviewer says they won’t use it if Jones doesn’t want them to – but Jones eventually replies. “I think you’re going to have to get into a society that teaches some form of cooperativism, call it socialism or what… I don’t see how we’re going to possibly get cooperation, when we teach competition, competition, competition.” It is the word “socialism” which hangs Jones up, and he says he has received death threats because of his use of it. When Jones asks later if they can revisit the question, he speaks in more religious terms: “The Judeo-Christian concept, in fact, I think it runs through all the great world faiths, is that we are our brother and – not to be chauvinistic – sister’s keeper. I think that there’s been too much stress placed upon competition, from the school up, and in sports and everything. There ought to be more emphasis upon cooperation.”
The second substantive segment of the tape is a telephone conversation between Mike Prokes and a young black woman named Kay, who had been a member of the Planning Commission – the Temple’s decision-making body under Jones – until she quit the council for health reasons. She has also been absent from Temple services and meetings for an unknown period of time, and Prokes has called at Jones’ request to find out what her feelings about the church are.
The conversation has the feel of two people breaking up a romantic relationship. At some points, the people speak tenderly to each other and express their regrets; at others, the tone is one of anger and frustration; there are mixtures of cajoling the other back into the relationship, and resignation that that will never be. And, as happens in a break-up, the two seem to talk past each other several times, although Kay does notice that on at least one occasion. In general, though, the conversation is distinguished by a painful intimacy.
Kay says that her decision to leave the church was based on her physical and emotional health. She says she can’t stay up all night with the Planning Commission, and still hold down a job and go to school. “I know what the obligations [to the church] are and I would just rather not even be Council, you know, because I just cannot handle that. I mean, emotionally, I just cannot handle it… It wasn’t a question of whether [I] wanted to or not. To me, it was just a question of whether my body could continue to hack that.”
Even as Prokes listens and says he understands, he tries to persuade her to return. Kay says she cannot reduce her role or ask for special consideration of her schedule, since people would not understand why she would be allowed to do that, so she would just rather not return at all. Prokes agrees that her return to the church but not to the Planning Commission would set a terrible precedent, but insists he can’t understand why she won’t return to the PC.
Prokes also wonders how the church will explain this situation to others, that she used to be on the council and now she’s not. At first she replies that it isn’t her problem, then she softens and says, she doesn’t know what the answer is. “[I] obviously haven’t had any solutions … or I wouldn’t have been in the state … I was in.”
Up until this point, the conversation has been cordial, and Kay says she doesn’t feel hostile towards the church. As they begin to cover the same ground over again, though, Kay confronts Prokes: “I’m trying to say to you what my problem is, and you’re saying to me, how my problem’s going to affect everybody else.”
Prokes replies that she’s trying to let herself off the hook, that “we feel that we each have limits that we set ourselves as far as how much pain we’re willing to endure, when we all could go much farther.” When Kay agrees – her tone more of resignation than of acquiescence – Prokes presses his argument. “And so, it gets down to a matter of character, for all of us.”
The conversation that follows gives a deep insight into how Temple loyalists perceived their own roles, and how disaffected members came to view those same roles. When Kay says that everyone has the right to set his or her own limits, Prokes replies simply, “I don’t know that we do, Kay. I don’t know that we do.” When she insists that she has the right to set hers, again Prokes replies: “Well, you do, if you give yourself the right.”
The Temple spokesman expands upon the issue later in the conversation. “When we’re involved in a revolution, we lose personal rights,” he says. “We don’t have the right to decide … how far we can commit ourselves, how far we can go, … because there are others who go through much worse, who aren’t even in here, the people that we’re trying to rescue.” The cause itself becomes – or should become – all-consuming, he says. “If we kept our eyes focused on what’s outside [the Temple], I don’t think we’d get the internal individual problems that we have inside.”
Kay vehemently disagrees. She says she can’t see how the cause is advanced by staying up all night, by making themselves sick, by asking for consideration of their own human frailties. She was “begging” to have her responsibilities lessened, she said, but “nobody wanted to hear it. Nobody would listen. And nobody ever does, until you’re pushed against the fucking wall, and you can’t breathe, and all you can do is come out screaming.” A moment later, she raises the same issue with an almost wistful question: “If you’re there [in the Temple], and you’re there for what you say that you’re there for, and you can’t hear people screaming around you, how in the hell you gonna hear them from afar?”
Date of transcription: 3/29/79
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 1, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B62-3. This tape was found to contain the following:
A radio interview of JIM JONES. Telephone calls from the People’s Temple.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted April 2002