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 “Peoples Rally [illegible] 77”
Date cues on tape: October 3, 1977 (specified on tape)
Public figures/National and international names:
Francisco Franco, dictator of SpainDennis Banks, leader of American Indian Movement
Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, executed U.S. spies
Michael & Robert Meeropol, children of Rosenbergs (by reference)
Emanuel Bloch, attorney who defended Rosenbergs
Irving Kaufman, judge in Rosenberg trial
Marshall Kilduff, co-author of New West article
Klineman/Kleinman (phonetic), likely George Klineman
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Thomas Noguchi, L.A. county Chief Medical Examiner (by reference)
John Van De Camp, Los Angeles District Attorney (by reference)
James Thurman Jones (by reference)
Former Temple members
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Mrs. Gurvich, mother of Jann Gurvich, first name unknown
Steven Katsaris (by reference)
Jeff Haas, attorney for Stoens (by reference)
Jonestown residents, full name unknown:
“the Hicks child” (either Romaldo or Anthony)
Billy Jones (William Dillon Dean Jones)
Lynetta Jones (by reference)
Marceline Jones (by reference)
John Victor Stoen (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
(This tape was transcribed by Isaac Zukin and Ethan Snyder. The editors gratefully acknowledge their invaluable assistance.)
Jim Jones speaks to the Jonestown community during an evening meeting in early October 1977. It’s a few weeks after Jeff Haas, the American attorney for Tim and Grace Stoen, backed up by a Guyanese marshal, came into Jonestown to serve a warrant on Jones. It’s also a few weeks after the Six Day Siege which followed. Jones is proud of the community’s response during the siege – he raises the subject several times in the tape, including its final words praising a young man ready to defend the Temple’s boat by holding a rudder in his hands – even as he reminds them how “we came so close to dying, if just two officers had come up that driveway.”
Both of these events are very much on his mind, but the more immediate concern is a recently-discovered letter which allegedly links Peoples Temple to the death of a former Temple member two years earlier. Jones sees the fingerprints of the Temple’s enemies in this accusation, and wonders if they are so callous as to want to bring down the L.A. coroner along with the church in this unwarranted investigation by the county’s district attorney. “No coroner would take the risk of suppressing any kind of evidence…,” Jones says, “and he would have no possible reason to try to conceal anything that would reflect on Peoples Temple, then there must be some sophisticated thing that they’ve manufactured.”
The incident is reminiscent of witch hunts of the McCarthy era of the early 1950s that resulted in the execution of the Rosenbergs – a story that Jones recounts in emotional detail – but some people in Jonestown forget their history, “some of you are so blasé, you don’t think it’ll ever happen again. Some of you think you can go on back to life and its routine, and somehow you could eat your McDonald hamburgers and … not be affected by that.”
Jones spends much of the tape castigating the relatives back home who will do anything to force him to surrender some of his followers. Families in the U.S. refer to people in the Temple as liars, “they always accuse us communists of using ‘the end justifies the means’ rationale … they’re always talking about what communists will do, and then … they just manipulate their own family to do what they want, for no moral reasons, for no purpose, no good, no decency, they just lie.”
These same relatives call Jim Jones a thief, but how can he be a thief, when he’s taken the millions that the church has and built a community that feeds 700 people every single day. He could have been a thief, he acknowledges, he could have taken the money and headed off for Monte Carlo, but the proof of how wrong their enemies are, is the life the people of Jonestown enjoy, free of capitalism and racism.
He also challenges the claim that his followers have been brainwashed or – to use his word – “programized.” If anyone has been programized, it’s the people who believe what their government tells them, what their newspapers tell them and – worst of all – what their religion tells them.
Nevertheless, his harshest criticism seems to be of the people in the audience before him. He begins his observations by saying he doesn’t care what happens to him, because he devotes everything in his life for their benefit. Because he cares about them, he says, he tests them and watches them. That may seem to them that he’s paranoid, but “I’m the least paranoid of all… I don’t give a goddamn.… I’ll take my risk that someone will blow my head open. It doesn’t bother me, ‘cause one who is a zero doesn’t have paranoia.”
Not only is his life worthless, he also knows how worthless all human life is. He describes how chickens are slaughtered in Jonestown every day to give them enough to eat, and then cries out that human lives have no more value than that of a chicken. “A human doesn’t die one bit different than a chicken,” he remarks. “No different than a dog. You’ve ever seen a human die? Go watch that chicken die. And then you’d know that there’s nothing but Father, communism, and he is communism and there is no differential between the two, there is no separating communism from Father and no separation of Father from communism.”
The observation then becomes more directed towards his followers. “Some of you aren’t worth the value of a chicken. You cheat, you lie, you’d do any goddamn thing in a corner anytime you’re up against pressure… A chicken’s got more value than you, and yet you think you’ve got a right to live. Well, you no good son of a bitching motherfucker.”
A moment later, he seems genuinely curious that “everyone got quiet” when he talks like that. The crowd does not respond with applause, as is often the case when he remarks on their silence.
Date of transcription: 6/29/79
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 June 9, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B102-11. This tape was found to contain the following: JIM JONES talking before a People’s rally regarding topics such as:
1) Los Angeles District Attorney’s investigation into suicide of former Temple member in Los Angeles
2) DENNIS BANKS
3) ROSENBERG case
4) MC CARTHY Era
6) GRACE STOEN
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.