Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue: Identified Individuals Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Realistic C-120/ for JJ Statements
Date cues on tape: (Part 4) Summer 1977 (shortly after David Conn met with Dennis Banks at house of Lehman Brightman)
Mao Tse Tung
President Jimmy Carter
Gen. George Armstrong Custer
East Indian leader and pacifist Mahatma Gandhi
Dennis Banks, leader of American Indian Movement
California Governor Jerry Brown (by reference)
President Jimmy Carter
Huey Newton, Black Panther leader
David Conn (probably, by reference)
Peoples Temple members:
Bonnie Beck (speaks)
Jean Forester Brown (speaks)
June Crym (speaks)
Harriet Sarah Tropp (speaks)
Richard Tropp (speaks)
Eugene Chaikin (probably) (speaks)
“Mr. Cordell” (probably Harold)
Jim McElvane, black Temple leader
Temple attorney Marshall Bentzman
Native American activist Lehman Brightman
Yvonne Golden, black educator in San Francisco
Cecil Williams, pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church
Kay Acando (phonetic)
Clarence Brown/Clarence Jones
Marie, niece of Kay Acando (speaks)
“a woman by the name of Ridgeway”
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was one of the 53 tapes initially withheld from disclosure.)
This tape consists of four parts. The first side ends after part 1, a series of revolutionary messages from a number of Temple leaders, all but one of whom identify themselves. The last three parts, which comprise side 2 of the tape, are a series of phone calls.
In Part 1, six Temple leaders read statements which they have apparently composed themselves, but all of which have the same message: They are loyal to socialism, they are loyal to Jim Jones, but they are tired of pacifism. They are all ready to go out and commit acts of terrorism against corporations, utilities and government entities. Several advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government; two recite the Maoist rhetoric that power “comes from the barrel of a gun.”
They would all act, they say, were it not for the calming presence and advice of Jim Jones. “The only thing that has kept me from going ahead and doing this is my pastor, Jim Jones,” one says. “I thank him for keeping my temper under control and one of these days, if I didn’t have him, I would let loose and do what I have had in my mind for years.
In Part 2, a woman who identifies herself as Marie (last name unknown) complains to a Temple attorney (probably Eugene Chaikin) about the Temple ripping off her elderly aunt, by charging her outrageous amounts for services, and by tapping into the older woman’s checking account. The attorney tries to soothe the woman, but she just wants the financial problems settled. When the attorney asks her to separate out the “legitimate” expenses, she replies that there are none. Later, when he tries to concede a point by telling her, “I wouldn’t argue with that,” she replied hotly, “No, I’m not going to argue any of these things.” Nevertheless, by the end of the conversation, the two speak more cordially, as the woman acknowledges what the Temple has done well for her aunt, and they agree to try to work out what’s best for the elderly woman’s future.
Part 3 is a phone call in which a young woman within the Temple calls a relative in order to demand that they cease all future communication with each other. The phone call is hostile in tone, one-sided, and brief.
The last part is the most significant. In it, Jones and a Native American activist named Lehman Brightman talk about a gathering during which an unidentified man approached Dennis Banks, a leader of American Indian Movement, to talk about Jim Jones. The approach seemed heavy-handed, and the motivation was unclear. According to Brightman, the man was nervous, then became bold and aggressive. The stranger revealed that an investigation of Jones had been ongoing for six years. However, he didn’t recognize pictures either of Jones or of Temple leader Jim McElvane, even though, according to Brightman, the man said McElvane “had committed about eleven murders.”
The conversation leads to a discussion about Treasury agents infiltrating political movements, and how many activists are neutralized by running afoul of tax laws rather than being arrested on more serious charges. Jones makes the connection, saying that they shouldn’t have anything to fear from either the firearms nor the Internal Revenue Service divisions of Treasury.
The “frightening” part about the matter, according to Jones, is that someone, “allegedly the wife of this man,” called the Temple to say that Brightman had set up the interview between Banks and the stranger, even though it was a story that could be easily checked out.
Jones and Brightman try to figure out what’s going on. They conjecture that the unnamed man was hoping Banks wouldn’t know his legal position, and could therefore intimidate him. Brightman wonders what they should do. Jones recommends they do nothing. “My own opinion, off the record, is that when you got a devious mess like that, the best is to leave it alone. The more you stir shit, the old saying goes, the more it stinks.”
The tape ends as Jones tells Brightman about the coming economic crash, the unrest in Africa leading to thermonuclear war, and the imminent placement of blacks in concentration camps.
The context of the call makes the actions of the unnamed man — who is likely David Conn — even more mysterious. The state of South Dakota wanted to extradite Banks from California and try the AIM leader on weapons charges arising out of the occupation at Wounded Knee in 1973. Through both financial contributions and an intense letter-writing campaign, Peoples Temple led the successful campaign to block the extradition. Approaching Banks with an obvious attempt to get some dirt on Jones was short-sighted at best.
Eventually, Peoples Temple and the Native American activists decided not to follow Jones’ initial advice to drop the issue. Banks filed an affidavit in September 1977 in which he described the meeting with Conn at the home of Lehman Brightman the previous May. In the affidavit, Banks asserted that Conn asked him to denounce Jones and to meet with a Treasury agent; in return, according to Banks, Conn said the battle against extradition would be an easier one.
As Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs note on page 589 of their book, Raven, Banks “logically considered Conn’s approach a blackmail attempt, so he informed the Temple” (The phone call on this tape certainly seems to be one of the efforts to let the Temple know what was going on). “Soon Temple members began eavesdropping under the home of Conn’s former wife, and were able to confirm the existence of the Treasury investigation — before many of the guns had been shipped” [emphasis in original].
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 28, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B68-11. This tape was reviewed and the following is a transcript of side one:
[The transcript is almost the same as Part 1 of the transcript for this tape.]
Voices terminate and the rest of the tape is blank. Side two contains telephone call from what appears to be a female complaining to a People’s Temple male concerning excessive and unjust use of her aunt’s funds. Side two also contains some short phone calls and one call from LEE to JIM JONES about DENNIS (apparently DENNIS BANKS) and Treasury investigations.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The first part of the summary is a transcript of side one and is therefore complete. Indeed, it is the only full transcript other than that of the so-called death tape, Q 42.
The descriptions of the phone calls on side two are accurate and meet the FBI’s limited purposes. However, the last phone call is important to an understanding of Jones’ rising paranoia about government investigations of the Temple. Indeed, it is among the earliest indications that such investigations were, in fact, occurring, and that Jones had reasons to be paranoid.
This tape is among the 53 tapes which the FBI initially withheld from public release, pending the outcome of its investigation and the Justice Department prosecution of Larry Layton. However, the statements on side one — which seem to have been the reason for the withholding — are much less significant than the final phone call, which the agents reviewing the tape didn’t have the knowledge to realize.
Tape originally posted January 2002