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: None
Date cues on tape: Late spring/early summer 1977, after AIM leader Dennis Banks met with David Conn, who claimed to work for Treasury Department and IRS
Deposed president of Chile Salvador Allende
David Conn, allegedly with Treasury Department and IRS
U.S. Sen. John Stennis (D-Mississippi)
Meyersville, Mississippi mayor Unita Blackwell Wright (by reference)
Leon Joly, March Air Force Base engineer (by reference)
Thomas Dawsey, electronics engineer from Mississippi (by reference)
Columnist Jack Anderson
George Brown, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Rep. Philip Burton (D-Calif.)
Yvonne Golden, San Francisco educator (speaks)
Carlton Goodlett, publisher of San Francisco Sun-Reporter
Amos Brown, minister at Third Baptist Church, San Francisco
Karl Irvin, president of Northern California Disciples of Christ
Cecil Williams, minister at Glide United Methodist Church, San Francisco
Tony Ubalde, United Methodist minister
International Hotel organizer Joe Biones (phonetic)
San Francisco community activist Enola Maxwell
San Francisco activist Dennis Wade
Newspaper columnist Lester Kinsolving
Laura Johnson (likely Laura Johnston)
Bible verses cited: “Jesus cussed the money-changers out of the temple.”
This tape consists of two somewhat-related phone calls – one between Jim Jones and an unidentified acquaintance, and the second between Jones and Yvonne Golden, a black woman educator – a few months before Jones left for Guyana. The complete context of the telephone calls is unclear, especially since the first phone call begins before the recording, as are some of the events involving Peoples Temple which they do discuss. What does emerge is the sense of paranoia – some of it due to the tenor of the times, some of it due to recent events, some of it due to Jones’ own worldview – which is gripping the activist community of San Francisco.
Two recent and recognizable events do find voice in the tape. In November 1976, Temple members caught two men in a parked car eavesdropping on a lecture given to the Temple by Unita Blackwell Wright, the mayor of Meyersville, Mississippi and a civil rights activist. The Temple tracked down the men and identified them as communications experts working with U.S. Senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi). The discovery of this troubled Jones on many levels. While the spying could have just as easily been directed towards the activist mayor from Stennis’ home state, it could also have been directed at the Temple, and that’s what Jones apparently chose to believe.
If it had been an isolated incident – or an innocent coincidence, as one of the “spies” said it was – it might have faded and become part of the Temple’s list of grievances against the American power structure, a list which everyone else would have ignored. But a few months later, Dennis Banks, an activist with the American Indian Movement whose resistance to extradition from California was being championed by the Temple, claimed to have been approached by a man who said he could help with Banks’ legal problems in return for a public denunciation of Jones. The man had identified himself as David Conn and said he worked for the Treasury Department and IRS. Other, less sinister explanations were floated about Conn’s identify, his reasons for meeting with Banks, and the folder of “disparaging” (as Banks described it) material about Jones which Conn read, but none resonated as well for Jones.
During the first telephone conversation, Jones bring up both the Wright and Banks incidents, in addition to his litany of atrocities committed by the U.S. government around the world and against black people within its borders. But the more immediate incident, one which may have triggered either or both of the phone call, is a series of anonymous letters which have denigrated and/or threatened the leadership of progressive causes in the Bay Area. The letters have been skillfully planted – one minister receives a letter about acts committed by another minister – and they are taking their toll. “I think he did believe it,” Jones says about the effects of one poison pen letter. “That’s one thing that … the enemy has, the CIA, the conspiracy, whatever in the hell it may be, those who want to break progressive non-violent forces working for change within society, they’ve got that going for them, there’s a hell of a lot of paranoia, there’s a great willingness to be cynical, and believe the worst about people.”
Jones has a particular candidate for the villain in the piece, though. Lester Kinsolving, a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner whose relationship with Jones is mutually antagonistic, has been behind some of the wiretaps against the church, according to Jones (and, by extension, against some of the other causes in town who suspect that they are bugged). Jones said he even had proof of the taps, which had been provided by a telephone operator, but he was reluctant to press forward with charges because he was afraid of recriminations against the woman. Jones also accuses Kinsolving of bribery, and reminds the man he’s speaking to that the columnist was dropped by the Washington press corps for his actions, and “maybe … that old columnist is back at us again.”
Kinsolving and Jones seem to be at an impasse – a possible motive for this latest harassment – over what the columnist knows about the church. “So the sucker knows some things about us…” Jones says, “[b]ut we had not heard him since we sued him.” Instead of Kinsolving coming forward with what he knows and thereby risk legal reprisals, Jones speculates, “he has just chosen to make all these weird weird allegations against us.”
But whether it’s Kinsolving or Senator Stennis or the Treasury Department or the phone company behind them, Jones adds, “we have conspiracies to deal with. I could name you 15 different conspiracies to progressives, or friends of ours in different organizations.”
He confesses to frustration with the conspiracies, and says they make him feel “damn hostile.” But – despite what has been reported about him recently – he doesn’t like guns, doesn’t own a gun, and never has owned a gun. He says he’s for complete gun control, even if he supports the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, especially as long as the Nazis in the U.S. has “guns stashed away.” Then, addressing himself directly to a larger audience, such as those who are bugging his line and who may detect a sign of Jones’ weakness in his distaste for firearms, he adds, “I do want to say, if they ever come in here, we will fight to the last man and woman. We’ve made up our mind. We’re not going to be carried away to no concentration camps… I got a right to defend myself, if people come in here to try to hurt my children and hurt our people, I’d rather die.”
But the identity of the conspirators remains unknown, even if Jones and his friend discuss the intrigues against them. Unable to come to conclusions about their identities, the two know the conspirators’ motives: It’s fear. “[The conspiracy] can find characters like [Conn] who will try to destroy. But, let’s expect that it will happen. Democracy’s on its demise. The multinationals have so much technology that when the economics gets bad enough, we’re all in danger.”
Jones’ conversation with Golden covers some of the same ground, although their mutual concern is more about the anonymous letters arriving all over town. Golden seems more saddened than sickened by the hate mail directed at her. “It’s so dumb,” she says. The letter accuses her of working for something – “what am I supposed to be working for?” she ponders in mid-sentence – as she positions herself for some city post. “It really is stupid,” she concludes.
Jones offers her more evidence of the conspiracy. Two reporters got into trouble for doing their jobs in the exposing police, and when the newspaper didn’t come to their assistance, the Temple did. “By God, they wasn’t two days till we got threatened that if we did that, we’d be smeared. I don’t know who in the hell some of these people are, but I’ll tell you there’s a real conspiracy.”
The danger from the government is directed in part at churches, Jones says at the end of the conversation. He quotes a Newsweek magazine report about people trying to get conservatorship over their adult relatives. He then segues into the danger of deprogramming: “Somebody could … put you away and run cold water over you, and completely take you away from life and liberty.”
The conversation ends with both Jones and Golden talking about their fatigue, their minor illnesses, and their need to get some rest. They sign off with expressions of affection for each other.
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 3/29/79, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B68-12. This tape was found to contain the following:
Phone conversations with JONES and some unknown persons and with YVONNE GOLDEN. Nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be beneficial to the investigation.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted February 2005