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: Labeled in part “9/6/76 Rally”
Date cues on tape: October 6, 1978 (L.C. Norris died “this afternoon”)
Public figures/National and international names:
John F. Kennedy, assassinated U.S. President
Adolf Hitler, German Fuhrer
Jomo Kenyatta, president of Kenya
Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana
Feodor Timofeyev, Consular of Soviet Union embassy in Guyana (by reference)
Lee Harvey Oswald, alleged assassin of Pres. John F. Kennedy
Marina Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife (by reference)
Don Freed, author and screenwriter
Carlton Goodlett, San Francisco physician, newspaper publisher
Susan Marshall, childhood friend of Jim Jones
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
Patty (likely Cartmell, could be Parks)
Stanley (several in Jonestown)
Terry (likely Carter, could be Buford)
Sharon Amos (by reference)
Jack Beam (speaks)
Elondwaynion Darnes, aka Ollie B. Darnes II
Amanda Fair (speaks)
Rhonda Forston (speaks)
Tom Grubbs (speaks)
Don Jackson (speaks)
Johnny Moss Brown Jones
Lynetta Jones (by reference)
Stephan Jones (speaks)
Chris Lund, also known as Chris Rozynko
Dov Lundquist (speaks)
Eileen McCann (speaks)
Plickards (L.C.) Norris
Larry Schacht (by reference)
Anthony Simon (speaks)
Jose Simon (by reference)
Barbara Walker (speaks)
Bible verses cited:
- “You better know your Redeemer liveth, (ministerial voice) and is standing a latter day upon this earth.” (Job 19:25, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”)
Jonestown resident Plickards (L.C.) Norris has died of natural causes, and Jim Jones talks about the man’s life, both in making an announcement from the radio room where he made his news tapes, and as part of the Peoples Rally later that night.
Norris had died of cancer, but the death allows Jones to offer familiar messages to everyone in the community. As Jones notes several times on the tape, Norris had called out in his agony to God and Jesus, asking for their assistance. He didn’t get it, and he couldn’t have expected to, “because it has sad ramifications.” If you don’t believe “one thousand percent” in Jones and socialism, “there’s nothing I can do for you, but feel sorrow in my heart.” With this in mind, he urges everyone in Jonestown to destroy their Bibles and religious literature, keeping only his writings, his sayings and his tapes.
The fact that Norris had apparently arrived in Jonestown much more recently than the rest of the community – and that he was already ill when he arrived – allows Jones to blast the American medical establishment and, by extension, America itself. “[The] pancreatic cancer … should’ve been found by any sensible doctor in the United States, but they did not give enough concern. No way did they show any concern.”
Jones’ voice sounds fatigued or drugged on the first part of the tape, but by the time of the Peoples Rally that evening, he is more alert and coherent.
The meeting seems to be more of an administrative one to discuss issues of community concerns and discipline, rather than one of Jones lecturing on political matters or issuing directives. Due to several factors – the tape opens with the meeting already in progress; much of the input into the conversation from members of the crowd is inaudible; and the quality of the tape and/or the recording is below average – the context of much of the evening is difficult to ascertain.
There are several behavioral problems which resolve themselves fairly quickly. Two young boys have been consistently disruptive in school. In addition, one of them endangers others by playing with fishhooks on the playground, plus – as the school principal Tom Grubbs says – the boy needs to learn “that property does not change hands when there’s not someone guarding it.” Both are put on Public Services – Jonestown’s disciplinary work crew – for several days.
A second problem is also addressed and handled at the end of the tape. Barbara Walker has repeatedly pestered Stephan Jones – Jim Jones notes she tried to kill his son – and after several other previous means to discourage the unwanted attention, she has been drugged into compliance. There have been problems with the drugs – Walker’s overall health seems to have been affected – and perhaps, as Jones says, the problem has been a “hormonal deficiency” all along. Stephan himself doesn’t oppose releasing her from the medical supervision she’s been under – “She doesn’t worry me, and you can see her coming a mile away” – and Walker responds that she doesn’t want to even say hello to him anymore.
The recurring issue throughout the tape stems from a note dropped in the suggestion box by a young Jonestown resident named Christine. The note raised several issues, and Jones has called her forward as he parses each one. She apparently has offered her view, for example, that the community meetings are used as a way to control the population. Jones says she is misinterpreting him. He doesn’t like the meetings, he says, especially at the end of a long day when everyone is tired, including himself. But the meetings are necessary, he says, reminding her how things tend to fall apart or go lax when there are long periods between them. Addressing her principal concern, though, he replies, “I do not believe meetings control. Meetings do the exact reverse. They cause hostility.”
Christine has also written that Jones has lost some credibility in the community. Reviewing what is likely a summary of the letter, Jones reads that Christine believes everyone has been tricked, that they keep hearing the same plans over and over without any progress on them, that there will never be any changes in Jonestown.
“My credibility? My credibility’s good,” Jones replies. “I’m one of the most direct people in the world.” Beyond the denial, he turns the issue back onto her. “Now I told you some very deep things about people and lives and organizations, and you should’ve been complimented by that… You’re throwing away an excuse for being the kind of a communist you know you can be.”
There is one point Christine has raised that Jones embraces. The Russian classes are teaching them nothing, she has said, and certainly not preparing them for a move to the Soviet Union. Jones replies that they should learn phrases “that everybody has to use, like going to the toilet, or, I want bread, I want my breakfast, or I want to see the doctor.” He also suggests using a blackboard to put up a sentence or two each day that everyone can learn.
The discussion of the Russian language class allows Jones to segue into talking about plans to emigrate to the Soviet Union. He is emphatic about his intent. Maybe some people in Jonestown want to stay there, and perhaps they should maintain both the existing facility in Guyana and the new one in Russia – if nothing else, to keep a fallback position in case things don’t go well in their new home – and in any event, they should make sure Jonestown is kept in pristine condition in order to maintain good order with the Guyanese government. “But I am leaving,” he concludes to the most sustained applause of the night.
The proposed facilities in the Soviet Union seems to improve as the night progresses. The Russians will build them “400 houses, a gymnasium, a theater, and an indoor swimming pool.” They don’t have to pay their new hosts anything for it; on the contrary, once they get there, “we may even get wages in the Soviet Union, based on our labor.” They have other “incentives” too, like candy and books and trips to Moscow and – most immediately – “fried chicken laying on the plate.”
There are a number of reasons they are attractive to the Soviets, things the people of Jonestown can do for the Russians. “They’ve never had a commune,” Jones says. “We’re the first commune. They like to see it work this way.” Secondly, they’ve had a history of African men coming to the Soviet Union, marrying white Russian women, and leaving; “[t]hey want Africans to see, that if you will be communists, you can live in the Soviet Union.” Finally, the Soviets believe the American religious community will be able to work with the Pentecostals there; “we will sing and we can shout, and I can heal the sick and I can get those Pentecostals and get ‘em in there and communize them. They don’t give a damn if I’m God Almighty to get it done. They don’t care.”
So committed are the Soviets that, should anyone endangers the community, they would respond. If anybody moves against them, Jones reports the Soviets as saying, “if we couldn’t get to you, we would demand, we’d bring so much hell that they would let us get to you, because we would make an international incident over any attempt to hurt Jonestown.” This was undoubtedly the type of comment that Christine Miller was referring to on the day of the mass deaths, when she asked about getting help from the Soviets. (It should be noted that the Christine on this tape is likely not Christine Miller; the woman here sounds younger, and is more likely to be Christine Talley or Christine Lucientes.)
Jones lets the hyperbole extend to his descriptions of what life is like in the Soviet Union. Although they are not being dropped off in Siberia– “that’s not the agricultural area,” he says, and the Soviets want them “to build an agricultural base” – he adds that the reports of cold there are exaggerated, that “you don’t have the humidity with it. It’s a dry cold.” Moreover, “because the Soviet Union is communist and supports communist laws, and the people live basic socialist principles,” everything is different from both America and Guyana. “They got cities, for instance, whole cities that don’t smoke cigarettes, whole cities where there’s no alcohol. They don’t have any drugs. They don’t have any sexual perversion to children.”
If he inadvertently reinforces Christine’s point about credibility, at least in regard to the Russians, he also reveals himself in more honest ways elsewhere. He wants to show guests how well-informed the people of Jonestown are, for example, and he is not above a little trickery to do it. Lamenting that only three or four people raise their hands when he asks a questions on current events, “the next time anybody comes, you raise your hand like you all know… I know what I’m doin’. I won’t have you picked on unless I know you know.”
He also admits to lying for strategic purposes. He’s ready for truth serum that night, he says, and he defends the charge of lack of credibility by saying no one does as little lying as he does, but then adds, “I lie continuously, to help this cause, when I deal with outsiders.”
In talking about how they will relate to the Pentecostals, he says later, several people in Jonestown can speak in tongues, because “there ain’t no such thing as any tongue. It’s just” and then he goes into a sham glossolalia. “It don’t make any difference.”
Finally, in talking about the death of Plickards Norris, he said that the man’s belief in God extended to referring to Jones as a reverend. “He even called me reverend. You got to know who I am, if you want things out of me. And I’m sure not a reverend.”
Date of transcription: 6/18/79
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 5, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B100-4. This tape was found to contain the following:
Reverend JIM JONES reports that L.C. NORRIS had passed on due to being over-weight and due to maintaining his belief in Jesus. Then there was held criticism of various members on their faults and shortcomings.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.