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: One ConcerTape C-120/ Services Thursday April 6
Date cues on tape: Jonestown meeting
Public figures/National and international names:
- Claudia Cardinale, actress
Rock Hudson, actor
Jack Warden, actor
Moms Mabley, comedienne
Temple members not on death or survivors’ lists:
Mike Lund (speaks)
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Barbara (several in Jonestown)
Bev (Mitchell or Livingston, probably Mitchell)
Bruce (several in Jonestown)
Calvin (probably Calvin Douglas)
Christine (numerous in Jonestown)
Cynthia (numerous in Jonestown)
Donny (several Donald’s in Jonestown)
Jerry (many in Jonestown)
Karen (numerous in Jonestown)
Lee (numerous in Jonestown)
Martha (either Souder or Klingman)
Tommy (probably Bogue) (speaks)
Tony (several Tony’s and Anthony’s in Jonestown)
Mary Jane Bailey
Lena Mae Camp Benton
Joyce Marie Brown
Chlotile Butler (speaks)
Jeff Carey (speaks)
Mike Carter (speaks)
Loretta Diane Chavis
Sandra Yvette Cobb, aka Sandy Jones
Jeanette Blugina Duckett, aka Dee Dee Lawrence
James "Reb" Edwards (speaks)
Shirley Ann Edwards
Donald James Fields
Charles Henderson (speaks)
Lee Ingram (speaks)
Garry Dartez Johnson (known as Poncho) (speaks)
Verna Lisa Johnson, aka Shawntiki Johnson (speaks)
Ava Phenice Jones
Marceline Jones (speaks)
Penny Kerns (speaks)
Pearl Land (speaks)
Janet Lenin, aka Janet Tupper
Dee Dee Macon
Lillian Malloy (speaks)
Benjamin Robinson (speaks)
Kivin "Freeze Dry" Smith
Harriet Sarah Tropp
Walter Williams (speaks)
Kim Yoon Ai (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
This is a general meeting of the Jonestown community, held late into the night and presided over by Jim Jones and Temple member Lee Ingram. With a few notable exceptions, the meeting’s tenor is unremarkable: Jones raises issues which have been brought to his attention, and the community discusses them; Jones singles out people for praise and criticism; the subjects of discussion rarely stray beyond the gates of the settlement. There are only a few references to the Temple’s unnamed enemies, to White Nights, or to Jones’ own sense of pain and apocalyptic vision.
The tape picks up the meeting as the community discusses the theft of oranges from the kitchen. A man confesses, and is subjected to criticism from community members: they tell him he’s fat, and doesn’t need the oranges; his theft jeopardizes the health of expectant mothers; it precludes people coming for a visit; it risks the exposure of Temple assets when they have to pay for vitamins that the oranges would have provided to others (“We have to hide [our fund], because we don’t know what time the government will come down on us,” Jones says); because the thief is in security, people will hold the incident against the security force as a whole; people will also use it as an excuse to cut down the leadership as a whole, including Jones. Eventually, Jones gets to what he says is the heart of the matter: “Thievery has to be one of the worst crimes in a socialist community.”
Jones returns to the incident later, and complains about the unsanitary conditions that thievery creates. He then speaks about the repercussions in heightened costs to cover goods lost to theft. “[I]f you get in accident, and you happen to be one of those … like the Edwards boy, Isaac Edwards, someone’s not going to be able to afford this kind of care.”
In the midst of a general gripe session about who has to put up with what, Jones reminds the community that no one does more for the community or feels more pain than he does. But they need to change the way they do things for other reasons. “We stand up here and we talk, we’re ready to fight an enemy. But you don’t fight the great battles until you fight the small ones. And the small ones are the unjust things we do to each other.”
Different people speak about the problems of elitism and leadership, and consider it from racial perspectives and family connections. Jones reminds his own children that members of the family can’t abuse their position. “Greg Watkins wouldn’t have dared do it, but he thought he had to cover, because somebody in my family, immediate family, was doing it… When leaders take advantage, people use it [against them].” When a woman tries to defend Jones, should he decide to take advantage of his position, he speaks harshly to her: “I appreciate your empathy for my children, but you are not speaking in a socialistic fashion…you are not following the trend of the conversation.”
In the middle of a conversation about the leaders’ need to fast out of a sense of guilt, a bug attacks a woman in the back of the room and distracts the whole meeting. The incident upsets Jones, who asks how they can defend the children of the community against death, “when you go apeshit over a bug. …One thing talk about dying, and it’s another thing to believe in it, and living it.” After complaining about some of the seniors, though, Jones reminds the community they are still one family, not divided by race, age or sex.
Still, he says, the inclination for most people is not to be good. To the contrary, they’ll take advantage of the goodness they see in other people, but they don’t want to look at goodness, because then they’ll have to live it. After a pause, Jones adds, “And some people will be good only when they are afraid of a bullet or a karate chop.”
There are several references to security and the need to “control” people, although the use of the word is one of policing the community. “It’s ridiculous to keep strict controls on people in Jonestown,” Jones says at one point, “only to become lax in Georgetown where the biggest problem could be.” He returns to the theme a few moments later, when he says, “when you come with the force of violence and threats of violence, it controls, and we have to have it. It has to be understood, if you do certain things, that the force of this entire security will come down on you.” He follows that with one example of behavior to be controlled: “If you try to leave and cause difficulty for us, …the force of the entire people will be on your back.”
Jones says he understands that people like to be liked, and that’s what motivates some people. But when leaders try to make their followers into better people, they can’t be concerned with being liked or not. If the followers don’t like the leaders, they have to keep their focus on the underlying idea instead, because “what is communism, but a right idea? Whether anybody likes us or don’t like us, it’s a right idea.”
The conversation turns to individual relationships among the community’s young people – who is breaking up with whom, who is sleeping with whom – and Jones is disgusted. “Getting ready to fight a revolution,” he complains, “and this kind of bullshit going on.” He returns to the thought later, saying the focus on sexual relationships will “stop us from being able to function.”
But then he rises to express his admiration for a young man who is dating a lesbian; he also defends lesbians in general, saying that women who prefer women have reason to do so. Marceline adds that she thinks all women have a little bit of lesbian in them, but others, following the lead of the conversation, say woman have a lot.
In general comments about lovers wanting to know each others’ pasts, Jones says that people don’t have any business knowing who you slept with. If there’s love, there’s trust, and by extension, people who insist on making inquiries show they don’t know what love is. “I don’t believe there’s any place for jealousy in love. That’s my firm belief on that matter. It may take a while to get there, but I don’t believe there’s any place for it.”
He also condones sleeping with people outside a committed relationship, and says his opinion is, “when you get intelligence, you don’t find happiness in sex, it takes something more than that.” If Marceline slept with another man, he says – not that she would – but “I would be so happy for her, if she gets some happiness.”
Much of the meeting focuses on issues facing the physical needs of the community, as Jones reads and the members discuss various concerns: Should they stop working when it starts to rain? Is a drainage problem fixed? Did a stretcher get back from Georgetown? Can a room in the nurse’s station be used for other types of evaluations? Has the sign at the front gate been completed, and what does it say? As the problems mount and the discussions continue into the night, Jones grants a two-hour postponement on getting to production the next day, so people can rest.
Jones hands out both praises and warnings in response to written comments. People are praised for doing extra work, and others are warned about being disruptive in class, or being late to class. Jones speaks to one young man about referring to a girl as a pussy. For several people, a praise cancels out a warning.
They also discuss the procedures for writing up people who don’t follow the rules. Jones’ temper explodes when he hears that one woman challenged another to write her up for a transgression. Accusing the elderly woman of anarchy, he screams, “Don’t you ever< don't you ever say, write me up. Don't you dare anybody to write you up. I don't care what you've done, whether you're in the wrong or not, don't you dare say write me up, 'cause we'll put you on the Learning Crew." Later, when he reads a report that a woman isn't clapping at the community meetings because she has nothing to clap about, he asks her, "Do you realize how much you're daring to my power, and I must prove my power, no matter how much I love you, 'cause you say you've got nothing to clap about tonight?" Finally, as Jones returns to the subject of the bug on the woman's finger – and as the woman starts to defend herself against the criticism – Jones suggests that she just sit down while she's ahead. This last incident ends in laughter.
Returning to youthful offenders, Jones chastises a boy by reminding him of the miracle that had been performed to save his life. “If somebody had done that for me, I would be nice to them, I wouldn’t put them through this every night. If nobody ever knew they had a miracle, you sure as hell must know you had one.”
The tape ends during a discussion about violence in the Temple, the fighting among the youth, as opposed to the sanctioned fights before the community. “[W]e will not accept violence,” Jones says. “All physical violence that doesn’t happen in front of this group for teaching purposes” will result in offenders being placed on the Learning Crew.
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 1B68-14. This tape was found to contain the following:
A Peoples rally in Guyana (a kangaroo court).
Differences with FBI Summary:
Once the loaded terminology of the FBI summary is removed, there is nothing left for comparison.
Tape originally posted March 1999