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 Tracs 90/JJ address to People/April 14 News
Date cues on tape: References to recent White Night of April 12
Jimmy Carter, president of the U.S. [by reference]
Bert Lance, Director of Office of Management and Budget under Pres. Carter
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistani Prime Minister [by reference]
Ferdinand Marcos, president of Philippines [by reference]
Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba
Che Guevara, Latin American Revolutionary
Shirley Field-Ridley, Guyana Minister of Information
Carl Blackman, publisher of Guyana Chonicle
Lionel Luckhoo, Guyana attorney
George Richmond, minister of Moravian Church in Georgetown
Laurence Mann, Guyanese ambassador to US [by reference]
Soviet ambassador to Guyana
George Meany, labor leader, head of AFL-CIO
John, a “pathologist”
Loretta Wilkinson, aka Loretta Cordell
Shirley Ann Edwards
Don Fields [by reference]
Chris O’Neal [by reference]
“[W]e were a church that … were truly clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and visiting those in prison.” (Matthews 25:34-46)
Shortly after the lengthy White Night of April 12 – Jim Jones says at one point that it lasted 27 hours – the Temple leader discusses numerous successes that came out if it and the progress the community is making on outstanding issues. His tone ranges from calls of defiance to people who dare to cross the Temple, to articulation of new policies and rules to govern Jonestown, to mundane announcements. The tape has four distinct sections, but it is likely they were all recorded on the same day, although perhaps at different times throughout the day.
Much of the tape is repetitive, not only in the amount of time spent on seemingly-minor issues at any one point, but in the frequency of their return. The exhortations to step up production – he suggests doubling it at one point – are familiar to everyone in Jonestown, as is the plea for everyone to carry a flyswatter, but the requests seem hyperbolic here. “Swat these flies mercilessly,” he urges at one point, before adding what for him is his most telling argument: “This is the way other communists have destroyed them in other countries, only by the fly swatter.”
Jones repeats the lists of Jonestown’s benefits just as often. He speaks of everything the community has in terms of food, health care, and security; he reminds people of what they don’t have, too, all the isms of race, age, sex and class. He extols the beauty of what surrounds them in terms of natural wonders, temperate weather, clean water, beauty and peace; and again he offers the contrast to what they aren’t surrounded by, like ghettoes and cops and jails. And the true evil they have escaped – another familiar theme – is the uncaring and selfish capitalists who look out after no other interests but their own.
He also tells them of how it all came about. The people of Jonestown have “a Father unmatched in his devotion and loyalty to all of you… the most sensitive human being to caring, the most sensitive humanitarian, the most sensitive Father that the world has ever seen…
“Your Father cares,” he states simply at one point. “He is a communist, and his ideal towers above us, his model highly exalted, proven in consciousness, full and practice. Look to him. Look to that hill, that mountain of communist example from whence cometh your strength.”
For all these reasons, Jones calls on his people several times to recognize what they have, and to be both grateful for it and proud of it. For the most part, his words are of seeking the community’s survival: “You must be so bound together in eternal fraternal solidarity, there’ll be no question that they will understand that we will not perish, no matter what comes or goes, with our thousand-plus strong,” he says near the beginning of the tape. “We will persist, we shall overcome.”
Nevertheless, the subject of death – the community’s ultimate threat to anyone who would cross them – also arises. “[A] good revolutionary commitment or total dedication to socialism [extends] through life or death,” he remarks at one point. They enjoy the protection of their leader and their community, he says elsewhere, but if anyone were to breach that protection, “We will all go down in sweet, joyous victory first.”
More offhandedly, in the course of his announcements near the tape’s end, he requests that “security must give your reports in, of how you feel about death,” then expands upon the thought. “In fact, I would like such a response from every person in socialist class. Anyone that has fear of death should write it. You will not be brought up for any discussion. We just simply wish to help you, because death, when it is done through revolutionary means, for a cause, a principle, no problem.”
There are alternatives to death, he adds a moment later, although he is more dismissive of them. In discussing one – emigration to Cuba – he observes that “often the minority has very good thinking. We like all options, we never want to close an option, and will not, but we want to thoroughly look at every option, so we decide which is the most acceptable option to take in the time of need.”
There are some specific concerns that Jones spends some time discussing. In going over the rules people must follow to enter into sexual relationships, he demands that people get the approval of himself or the relationships committee. In no cases – even for those with approved relationships – can men be in women’s cottages (and vice versa), nor can they fraternize after everyone has gone to sleep. He notes that some people have hung up sheets to create some privacy, but even that must have the leadership’s approval, in part because of the expense of the sheets themselves.
Other rules he sets down:
- Crossbows must be secured, and policies on other security concerns must be established immediately;
- People must turn in their list of their possessions to Central Supply;
- “Spontaneous, unannounced investigations must be done throughout the week to all homes,” and anyone caught with something that doesn’t belong to them will be dealt with severely;
- People are not to make jokes at anyone else’s expense.
Several of the sections of the tape end with his declaration of love for his people, but it is not a throwaway line for him, as he returns to the subject in the body of his longer thoughts. “I love you,” he says at one point, “and I’m thus a pure communist, because no one makes me be good.”
Date of transcription: 3/7/79
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 2, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #48. This tape was found to contain the following:
It contains recordings of general announcements and speeches by JONES to the community exhorting them to increase their production and reaffirming their goals of socialism. Nothing was contained thereon which was considered to be beneficial to the investigation of Congressman RYAN.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.