Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
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FBI Catalogue Jones Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: Labeled in part “5/11/77 [November 11, 1977] Jonestown”
Date cues on tape: Context of tape consistent with label
President Jimmy Carter (by reference)
Joseph Alioto, Mayor of San Francisco, 1968-1976
George Moscone, Mayor of San FranciscoHuey Newton, leader of Black Panther Party
Lehman Brightman, Native American activist
Richard Pryor, black comedian and activist
The Roses (unknown, could be code)
David Conn, Elder in Disciples of Christ denomination
Tim StoenTemple members not in Jonestown:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Ben [several in Jonestown]
Penny [likely Penny Kerns]
Neal Welcome aka Neal Touchette
Jerry Wilson (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
(Note: This tape was transcribed by Vicki Perry. The editors gratefully acknowledge her invaluable assistance.)
Recorded in November of 1977 – the Jonestown community already has 800 people in it, and Chris Lewis, who was murdered in December 1977, is still alive – this relatively short tape of a Jonestown meeting shows that Jim Jones and the Temple leadership have already been confronted with murmurings from people who want to return to the United States. It is an issue which would return with increasing frequency in the next year leading up to the arrival of Rep. Leo Ryan.
Jones is happy to be in Jonestown, and the first full sentence of the tape is of him talking about the reasons “you ought to be glad to be here.” He talks about being outside the jurisdiction of the California Attorney General on an issue involving the Roses (it is unknown whether there is a family named the Roses, or whether this is code for the Stoen custody battle); he talks about the cruel warmongering policies of the US, as evidenced by its use of napalm and anti-personnel weapons in Vietnam; he presents Guyana as a safe haven when nuclear war comes – as it inevitably will – and reminds Jonestown residents that rich whites are the only ones with bomb shelters or access to protective caves in the US, with the result that blacks will be wiped out.
But there are reasons, not only to bring their people out of the US, but to come to Jonestown, he says. They have land, they have security, and they have none of the cares they had back in California. So complete are the benefits of their disengagement from the States, he says he doesn’t remember the Temple’s street address in San Francisco or even the name of the city’s mayor.
One young man has apparently voiced a desire to return to the US, and much of the tape is of Jones in a colloquy with Jerry Wilson – as he tells Wilson – “so we can re-educate your value system.” By the end of the conversation, Wilson has changed his mind, and Jones applauds “the growth I’ve seen [in you] in these last few days.” The Temple leader also acknowledges he has used the opportunity “as kind of a reference point” for others. In fact, there is less confrontation and certainly more laughter in this exchange than there is when the subject of returning to the US arises throughout 1978.
Jones does talk about one of his enemies in particular, and says that David Conn – who allegedly tried to get Native American activist Dennis Banks to renounce his association with Jim Jones in exchange for favorable legal treatment from the US government – has gone crazy. As for the other unnamed enemies who want to assassinate the Temple leader, Jones warns them to watch out. They might eventually be successful in their plotting, he says, but they would feel the retribution from the Temple. It could be that “nothing happened tomorrow. Nothing happened next week. [But] You ain’t out of trouble.”
He expands upon the threat a moment later in words that could be interpreted as showing the existence of a Temple hit squad: “I’ve got people back there writing me, said you healed me when I was dying, you saved my child that was dying, you got my young person … out of jail. You did this and you did that… Just put a word in the newspaper, and I’ll do anything you ask me to do. Well, I haven’t done it, but you think their people going to set there and let this shit go by?” In unison, the people of Jonestown call out, “No.”
Date of transcription: 7/6/79
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 June 24, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B110-7R46. This tape was found to contain the following:
JIM JONES tells the people that EVELLE YOUNGER was trying to get him, but he would get YOUNGER before YOUNGER got him. JONES also syas [says] that he stopped some things from getting to Vietnam and that it was a federal violation not state and YOUNGER did not have jurisdiction in the matter.
JONES also tells his people about how they will be blown up if there is a war and only white people will survive.
The remaining portion of the tape contains classical music.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted June 2010