Peoples Temple in San Francisco

The Peoples Temple was an organization best known for the purported mass suicide of over 900 of its members in Jonestown, the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the incidents of September 11, 2001. Those events included the murder of, among others, Congressman Leo Ryan, the first and only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in the history of the United States.

While the Temple originated in Indiana in the 1950s, after leader Jim Jones prophesied an apocalypse that would create a socialist Eden on earth, it moved to Redwood Valley, California in the late 1960s. Its headquarters later moved into San Francisco, where Jones remained until July of 1977, when Jones fled with almost 1,000 Temple members to Jonestown, Guyana following investigations by local media.

Peoples Temple background

Location map many | California
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caption=Some of the Peoples Temple's California Locations
The Peoples Temple was an organization founded in 1955 by Reverend James Warren Jones (Jim Jones) that, by the mid-1970s, possessed over a dozen locations in California, including in San Francisco and Los Angeles.Wessinger, Catherine. "How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven's Gate". Seven Bridges Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1889119243.] [Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 163-4.]

an Francisco start

When the Peoples Temple expanded its operations into the Bay Area in the 1970s, its staff concentrated on advertising the Temple's bus caravans to attract new converts, including handing out free trinkets.cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 151] While in 1972, the Temple was still calling its Redwood Valley facility the "mother church" of a statewide movement, moving the seat of power to an urban area seemed a strategic necessity.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 164.] It had held services in San Francisco and Los Angleles since 1970. Kilduff, Marshall and Phil Tracy. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/newWestart.htm "Inside Peoples Temple."] "New West Magazine". 1 August 1977 (hosted at Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University).] In 1971, the Temple established a permanent facility in an old San Francisco building that used to be the Albert Pike Memorial Scottish Rite temple on 1859 Geary Boulevard [City of San Francisco, [http://my.sfgov.org/photogallery/photogallery.aspx?dept=174&search=indexpage&criteria=1906%20Quake&cS=2&
]
] in San Francisco's Western Addition, and followed in 1972 with a facility in Los Angeles. While the Los Angeles branch started with a larger mostly African-American membership, the Temple later enticed hundreds of devoted Los Angeles members to move north to San Francisco to attend that facility.

By August of 1975, Jones had completely abandoned prior plans to make Redwood Valley an internal "promised land."cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 161] The reversal of the direction of Temple efforts from rural areas back into urban areas, where he had focused when locate in Indiana, was complete. San Francisco was a more realistic political fit and it permitted the Temple to show its political stripes.

Problematic for the Temple was that Jones' "healing" ceremonies in San Francisco, as in all places, also drew some right-wing religious zealots less likely to join a socialist organization. Because of that and the Temple's constant fear of conspiracies attempting to destroy "the most promising hope for world socialism", new members were carefully screened. Entrants to the San Francisco facility were not permitted free access to the inner areas of the buildings. Rather, they were greeted by an amicable covert interrogation party that sized up visitors, with "suspicious" figures told to wait indefinitely in the lobby.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 165.] Admitted attendees were assigned an "interpreter" of sorts to watch their reactions to the meetings and "explain" Jones' statements. If the attendee seemed non-objectionable, a five week period of observation began, which usually involved sifting through the attendees trash by the third or fourth week.

an Francisco Temple life

In the mid-1970s, as the Temple shifted to cities, communes became an important means of tightening controls and improving finances.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 256.] Temple members in San Francisco were urged to live a communal lifestyle.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 255.] Members elevated to the Temple's central governing body, the Planning Commission, were expected to "go communal."

Members' children would also be raised "communally," often in other Temple communes or through guardianships. The money saved from communal living was to be donated to the Temple. The Temple stressed physical discipline, which involved repeated paddlings of children with a wooden paddle in front of Temple members.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 259.] The practice later turned into disciplinary boxing matches, where the disciplined child was outmatched by one or more other members. Later, adult Temple members were involved in both paddlings and boxing matches.

The church converted some former real estate of its members into communal living units. Their possessions were sold through two Temple antique stories and through weekend flee markets. Because there was no room in the Temple's San Francisco communes for pets, they were shot and buried in mass graves by Temple security chief Jim McElvane.

Media alliances

In 1972, Jim Jones first met Dr. Carlton Goodlett, who published a San Francisco newspaper called the "Sun Reporter" primarily aimed at African American readers. The two encountered each other at political rallies and Goodlett's medical practice. The Sun Reporter soon thereafter presented the Temple with a "Special Merit Award." Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 264.] Temple media advisor Michael Prokes, a former reporter for a CBS affiliate, dined with Sun Reporter editor Tom Fleming and spoke of harassment of the Temple by the CIA and FBI.The Temple and Goodlett soon forged an alliance, with Goodlett permitting the Temple to print its "Peoples Forum" newspaper on the Sun Reporter's presses.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 265.] The deal was profitable for the Sun-Reporter, and Jones and Goodlett entered another media venture to invest and reorganize the Journal and Guide Newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia. The Peoples Forum's first issue was published in 1973, with a large format issue first being published in 1976.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 137.] While Jones hoped to build it into San Francisco's third largest daily paper behind the Chronicle and the Examiner and grossly exaggerated the circulation of the paper at "600,000", the paper did grow to a circulation of tens of thousands, the average San Franciscan at the least saw copies of it amidst other litter in the streets throughout the city and it received considerable correspondence from readers. cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 160-1]

Meanwhile, the Sun Reporer wrote articles praising Jones and the Temple. In 1975, Goodlett and Jones also both participated in a delegation persons sympathetic to the role of Cuba and the Central American countries in the struggle for peace that traveled to Cuba.Goodlett, Carlton B., [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PersonalReflections/goodlett_notes.htm "Notes on Peoples Temple"] , "reprinted" in Moore, Rebecca and Fielding M. McGehee, III, "The Need for a Second Look at Jonestown", Edwin Mellen Press, 1989, ISBN 0889466491] However, Jones called Goodlett a "Cadillac Communist" behind his back.

Jones also cultivated other media relationships. At the San Francisco Chronicle, famed columnist Herb Caen was the Temple's most widely read media acquaintance, while City Editor Steven Gavin attended Temple services along with a Chronicle reporter.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 285, 306 and 587.] Several reporters at local newspapers and television stations also spoke favorably of the Temple. Caen included some of Temple member Michael Prokes' claims of orchestrated harassment by the CIA and FBI in his columns.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 587.] Jones also won the National Newspaper Publishers Association Man of the Year Award, given by the Black Press of America.

Political beginnings

Changing forces

Several changes in San Francisco in the mid-1970s politically empowered local political organization, like the Peoples Temple.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 263.] The shift from citywide elections of county supervisors to district elections, as well as campaign spending limits and reporting requirements, bestowed unprecedented power on neighborhood groups and political organizations, like the Temple.

The Temple also distinguished itself from most cults with its overtly political message. Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 280.] It participated in political processes and formed political alliances, not just for the sake of expediency, but also out of genuine political sympathies. As the social direction of the Temple became more openly socialist, it depended more upon the political world. Jones made it known that he was interested in politics and former press secretary to Mayor George Moscone Corey Buscher stated that Jones "made his followers available to support progressive democratic candidates," [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, "The Political Pull of Jim Jones", November 21, 1978] though Jones had earlier also had supported at least some local Mendocino County Republicans.cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 165] However, like other leftist organizations of the time, the Temple played a double game of working underground among progressive circles, assuming the political establishment consisted of "corrupt enemies", while working publicly in traditional channels to advance its own cause.

Buscher explained that, soon after the San Francisco office of the Temple opened, it "became common knowledge that if you were going to run for office in San Francisco, and your constituency included the black, the young or the poor, you'd better have Jones in your corner." [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, "The Political Pull of Jim Jones", November 21, 1978] The Temple had 3,000 registered members, though it regularly drew 3,000 members to its San Francisco services alone, whether or not these were registered members. [Hall, John R. "The Impact of Apostates on the Trajectory of Religious Movement: The Case of the Peoples Temple", in David G. Bromley (ed.) "Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy". Sage Publications, 1988. ISBN 0-8039-3188-3. page 234.] cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 166] Some more recent accounts state the effective membership numbered perhaps 8,000.Taylor, Michael, "Jones Captivated S.F.'s Liberal Elite", San Francisco Chronicle, November 12, 1998] Of particular interest to politicians was the Temple's ability to produce 2,000 people for work or attendance in San Francisco with only six hours notice.Lindsay, Robert. "How Rev. Jim Jones Gained His Power Over Followers." "New York Times". 26 November 1978.]

Buscher stated that Jones offered thousands of "foot soldiers" willing to walk precincts and get out the vote, which was "an offer no politician in his right mind could refuse." [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, "The Political Pull of Jim Jones", November 21, 1978] Similarly, San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos stated that "If you were having a rally for a presidential candidate, you needed to fill up the crowd, you could always get busloads from Jim Jones' church." [Richardson, James, [http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft0m3nb07q;brand=ucpress "Willie Brown A Biography"] , University of California Press, 1996, p. 250] Agar Jaicks, who was chairman of the county Democratic Central Committee, the governing body of the Democratic Party in San Francisco, referred to the Temple as a "a ready-made volunteer workforce." Jaicks further explained that Jones was "a man who touched a component of the consensus power forces in the city, such as labor and ethnicity groups, and he was very strong in the Western Addition. So here was a guy who could provide workers for causes progressives cared about."

Introductions

Former California State Assemblyman Willie Brown first met Jones at Bardellis in Union Square. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 269.] Later, Jones sent Temple member Michael Prokes to Brown's office to interview Brown, future Distirct Attorney Joseph Freitas and future Sheriff Richard Hongisto for a documentary the Temple was making called "Miracles." [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 269.]

Those political connections would help further Jones' political career. In 1975, Brown helped to bring together Mayor George Moscone and the Peoples Temple, which later led to Jones appointment as chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 266.]

Involvement in Moscone's 1975 mayoral race

George Moscone faced a tough mayoral race against John Barbagelata. During the election, Moscone held a meeting with Jones and Peoples Temple member Michael Prokes requesting Temple volunteers for campaign work.Kinsolving, Kathleen and Tom. [http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown43.html "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover Up."] 1998.] Three months after the tragedy, Prokes fatally shot himself at a press conference he called in Modesto, California. ( [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/Prokes_statement.htm "Statement of Michael Prokes."] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". San Diego State University: Jonestown Project. Accessed 22 September 2007)] Temple members also saturated San Francisco neighborhoods, distributing slate cards for Moscone, Joseph Freitas, who was running for district attorney and Richard Hongisto, who was running for Sheriff. All three won, with Moscone winning a close runoff by under two percent of the vote.cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3 page 167]

After the election, Moscone and others believed that votes and campaign efforts by Temple members were instrumental in Moscone's close victory. Rapaport, Richard, [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/11/16/INGEM3070J1.DTL&type=printable "Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and memory"] , San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 2003] A transcription of a phone conversation with Prokes one month later stated "Moscone acknowledges in essence that we won him the election" and that "he promises J. an appointment." Barbagelata and others suspected election fraud, including that from alleged voting by Temple members that were not San Francisco citizens. He died in 1994 believing that Moscone's victory had been the work of Peoples Temple members bussed in from out of town.

After the tragedy at Jonestown, Temple members revealed to the New York Times that the Temple arranged for "busloads" of members to be bussed from Redwood Valley to San Francisco to vote in the election.Crewdson, John, "Followers Say Jim Jones Directed Voting Frauds", New York Times, December 16, 1978] A former Temple member stated that many of those members were not registered to vote in San Francisco, while another former member said "Jones swayed elections." Another former Temple member stated of Jones that "he told us how to vote." She stated that Temple members were required to produce booth stubs to prove that they voted, and members that could not produce such stubs were "pushed around, shoved and physically abused." When asked how Jones could know for whom they voted, the member responded "You don't understand, we wanted to do what he told us to."

San Francisco District Attorney Freitas set up a special unit to investigate election fraud charges. He named Temple member Timothy Stoen, whom he had hired as an assistant district attorney, to lead the unit. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 270.] Stoen employed Temple members as volunteers to help with work on the investigation. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 270.] The Temple was not mentioned in the proceedings that followed. After the tragedy, Stoen, who turned against the Temple in 1977, stated that he was not aware at the time of voter fraud but that it could have happened without his knowledge because "Jim Jones kept a lot of things from me."

Help with Milk's 1976 race for the California State Assembly

Harvey Milk, who later became a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, first became acquainted with the Temple while running for a seat in the California State Assembly against Art Agnos. Jim Jones initially telephoned a Milk campaign worker and stated that he wished to back Milk, apologized for earlier backing Agnos and said he would "make up for it" by sending volunteers to work on Milk's campaign.Shilts, Randy, "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk", St. Martin's Press. 1982 ISBN 0312523300, page 139] When told by friend Michael Wong of Jones' earlier backing of Agnos, Milk retorted "Well, fuck him. I'll take his workers, but that's the game Jim Jones plays."Shilts, Randy, "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk", St. Martin's Press. 1982 ISBN 0312523300, page 139] Temple member Sharon Amos organized the Temple's leafleting campaign for Milk. Shilts, Randy, "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk", St. Martin's Press. 1982 ISBN 0312523300, page 234] Amos requested the delivery of 30,000 pamphlets and Milk's campaign delivered them to the Temple.

Administration encounters

After Jones' rise to political prominence in San Francisco, the Temple had a few meetings with members of the the administration of President Jimmy Carter before the 1976 United States presidential campaign. During that campaign, Jones and George Moscone met privately with Vice Presidential Candidate Walter Mondale on his campaign plane at San Francisco's airport. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 302.] [Deborah Layton (1998) "Seductive Poison" ISBN 0-3854-8984-6 page 103] As soon as the encounter ended, Jones bandied it about to increase his standing with the Guyanese government, claiming he and Mondale engaged in private talks regarding outside attempts to destabilize Guyana.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 303.]

Jones' biggest event that fall was when he and First Lady Rosalynn Carter also both spoke at the 1976 grand opening of the San Francisco Democratic Party Headquarters.Kilduff, Marshall and Phil Tracy. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/newWestart.htm "Inside Peoples Temple."] "New West Magazine". 1 August 1977 (hosted at Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University).] Temple members packed the audience and Jones garnered louder applause when he spoke than Mrs. Carter.Kilduff, Marshall and Phil Tracy. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/newWestart.htm "Inside Peoples Temple."] "New West Magazine". 1 August 1977 (hosted at Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple. Jonestown Project: San Diego State University).] President Carter also sent a representative to a dinner at the Temple at which Jones and then Governor Jerry Brown spoke. [Mehren, Elizabeth, "Politicians Defend Associations With Jones", Oakland Tribune, November 21, 1978]

Mrs. Carter also met Jones for a private dinner at the Stanford Court Hotel.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 304.] The Temple's "Peoples Forum" newspaper made much of the meeting, including photos of Jones and Carter together.Mrs. Carter later called Jones personally, and Jones grossly exaggerated the "Peoples Forum" circulation on that call, claiming it was 600,000.Jim Jones, [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Tapes/Tapes/TapeTranscripts/Q799.html "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 799."] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". Jonestown Project: San Diego State University.] Carter had no knowledge that the Temple was taping her conversation.

In March of 1977, Jones also dined with Rosalyn Carter at the head table at the Democratic National Convention. [Layton, Deborah. "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. p. 53.] They later exchanged letters. [Los Angeles Times, "Mrs. Carter Reveals Jim Jones Letters", November 21, 1978] In a March 17, 1977 letter from Jones to Carter, Jones requested more aid for Cuba, then headed by Fidel Castro, whom Jones had earlier met with in Cuba.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 305.] [Los Angeles Times, "Mrs. Carter Reveals Jim Jones Letters", November 21, 1978] In a handwritten reply to Jones on White House stationary, Carter wrote "Your comments on Cuba have been helpful. I hope your suggestion can be acted on in the near future." [Los Angeles Times, "Mrs. Carter Reveals Jim Jones Letters", November 21, 1978] Carter also wrote that "I enjoyed being with you during the campaign -- and do hope you can meet Ruth soon", referring to her sister Ruth Stapleton. [Los Angeles Times, "Mrs. Carter Reveals Jim Jones Letters", November 21, 1978]

However brief their encounters, the Temple did receive some limited praise from administration members. In 1976, Walter Mondale stated regarding the Temple that "knowing the congregations deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country . . . is a great inspiration to me." [Los Angeles Times, "First Lady Among Cult's References; Mondale and Califano also listed", November 21, 1978] Welfare Secretary Joseph Califano stated "your humanitarian principles and your interest in protecting individual liberty and freedom have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the cause of human dignity." [Los Angeles Times, "First Lady Among Cult's References; Mondale and Califano also listed", November 21, 1978]

The San Francisco Housing Authority Commission

In March of 1976, Mayor Moscone appointed Jones to the Human Rights Commission. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 268-69.] Without telling his aides, just minutes before being sworn in, Jones declined the appointment, feeling it was a lateral move since he had served on such a commission in Indiana in the 1960s. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 268-69.] The aides of Moscone and Jones then scrambled to tell the media that Jones and Moscone were working on an alternative appointment. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 268-69.]

Thereafter, Moscone appointed Jones as a member of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/jonestown/filmmore/pt.html "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple"] . PBS.org.] After Jones' name appeared on the appointment list, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors requested that all potential appointees should receive background checks. Moscone then turned the matter over to a nominating committee that included Temple member Michael Prokes and Temple supporter Dr. Carlton Goodlett. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 268-69.] The committee approved Jones' appointment. When potential resistance arose to Jones appointment, Willie Brown introduced legislation that would have stripped the Board of Supervisors of its power over the appointment. Wishing to maintain the status quo, the Board unanimously approved Jones' appointment.

After lobbying by Moscone's office, Jones was soon named Chairman of the Commission. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 268-69.] At the time, Moscone stated that Jones was a "peacemaker . . . who had the ability to work with people." [Liebert, Larry, "What Politicians Say Now About Jones", San Francisco Chronicle, November 20, 1978] In July of 1977, after investigations into the Temple had begun, Moscone defended the appointment stating Jones was "both sensitive and realistic. From everything I've seen, he's been a good chairman." [Johnson, Tom, "Politicians Try to Explain Ties To Jones", Washington Star Ledger (Time-Life News Service), November 23, 1978]

Jones' most notable accomplishment on the Commission was to lead the fight for a period against the eviction by the Four Seas Corporation of impoverished residents of the famous International Hotel. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 282-3.] With Jones as Chairman, the Housing Authority voted to acquire the building using $1.3 million in federal funds in order to transfer ownership to tenants rights groups. When a federal court rejected that plan and ordered evictions in January of 1977, the Temple provided two thousand of the five thousand people that surrounded the building, barricaded the doors and chanted "No, no, no evictions!" Sheriff Richard Hongisto, a political ally of Jones, refused to execute the eviction order, which resulted in Hongisto being held in contempt and serving five days in his own jail.

Radicals

ymbionese Liberation Army

Jones empathized with inner city frustrations that nourished Bay Area guerrilla vanguards such as the Black Panthers, the New World Liberation Front, the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and the Venceremos, which spawned the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 229.] In speeches at the Temple, Jones even took responsibility for the bombing of a Vietnam-bound munitions train in Roseville, California.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 230.]

Jones expressed admiration for the SLA after it kidnapped Patricia Hearst and was involved in shootings, and the Temple distributed the Symbionese Declaration among its members.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 235.] However, he attempted to convince law enforcement officials and the press that he opposed such violence by having members hand deliver a $2,000 check to the Hearst family mansion.

The police were not persuaded by Jones' efforts. A police intelligence unit interviewed a member that admitted that Jones advocated that the Temple overthrow the government and that, one year before the Hearst kidnapping, Jones stated that Randolph Hearst would be a target as he represented "capitalist society."Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 236.] A police report contained an analysis of press photos and determined that SLA leader Donald DeFreeze and SLA member Nancy Ling Perry attended various meetings at the Temple along with Heart's boy friend Stephen Weed. After learning of police suspicions, Temple attorney Timothy Stoen wrote police in an attempt to dissuade them of the notion that Jones was involved with the SLA. Attempting to address police fears of Temple violence, the letters also claimed that Temple member Chris Lewis, who was involved in a BLA related shooting, had agreed to leave San Francisco, though it did not mention that Lewis had been sent to Jonestown.

The Nation Of Islam

Jones considered the Nation of Islam (NOI) to be sexist and racist, and feared that violence might flare up between the NOI and the Temple because of their close proximity in San Francisco's Western Addition. Jones inflamed tensions by claiming that the NOI was responsible for a fire at the Temple's San Francisco headquarters. After Temple member Al Mills was hassled for taking a photograph of NOI members, Jones sent burly African-American Temple security guards to a nearby mosque to issue a warning.

However, relations later improved.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 282.] To heal the rift, the two organizations held a historic "Spiritual Jubilee" in the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1976. Thousands packed the Civic Center, with the Temple members in red and black intermixed with NOI members in white. Temple San Francisco supporters Angela Davis, Carlton Goodlett and Joseph Freitas traveled to the event, along with Temple supporter Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally and Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley.

As Jones took the podium, imposing Temple "Red Brigade" security guards stood shoulder-to-shoulder with NOI security in a half moon formation in front of the stage. After calming the cheering crowd, Jones stated "We are grateful for this symbolic merging of our two movements . . . If the Peoples Temple and the Nation of Islam can get together, anyone can . . . A few years ago, we couldn't even walk the streets because of tensions."

Angela Davis and the American Indian Movement

Angela Davis was considered the Temple's favorite African American communist.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 369.] The Temple participated in rallies on her behalf and she visited the Temple.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 281.] Davis frequently chatted with Jones and top Temple aides in Jones' San Francisco Temple apartment. The relationship with Davis strengthened Jones' political credentials..

Jones cultivated an even closer relationship with American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder Dennis Banks. The AIM received the Temple's largest donation, $19,500. The Temple bailed out Banks wife, Ka-mook, from an Oregon jail and Banks spoke at the Temple. Banks name would also later surface in the Temple's investigation of conspiracies surrounding Al and Jeannie Mills.

Defectors and Conspiracies

Bob and Joyce

Married Temple members Bob Houston and Joyce Shaw lived owned a house on Potrero Hill that was used as a Temple communal living facility.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 255.] After Houston repeatedly questioned Jones about the details of socialist theory, Jones often branded Houston an "insensitive intellectual" and a "class enemy", and encouraged others to mock Houston.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 258.]

Houston became involved in at least two of the Temple's "boxing matches" where he was pummeled for punishment. He suffered a bloody nose and was embarrassed in front of his family. Meanwhile, Joyce suffered stress from running the couple's commune and also from coordinating medical care for all San Francisco Temple members. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 259.]

After some verbal abuse and frustration about the lack of freedom of speech at the Temple, in July of 1976, Joyce defected from the Temple while most members were traveling on a cross country bus trip. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 298.] Frightened of potential Temple search parties, Shaw lived on the Sonoma County fairgrounds with a friend for three weeks before leaving for Ohio.

On October 2, 1976, Joyce called Bob on a line recorded by the Temple and she invited Bob to leave the Temple and rekindle his relationship with her. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 299.] On October 5, 1976, Bob Houston was found dead along the tracks at the Southern Pacific railroad yard.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 300.] Bob Houston was the son of Robert "Sammy" Houston, a popular photographer for the Associated Press.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 1.] The death of Bob did not look like an accident, and Sammy was convinced the Temple was behind the death even though he was not aware about the taped telephone call of October 2. The Temple maintained that Bob coincidentally had resigned from the Temple on the morning of his death. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 2.] Joyce saw the purported resignation letter, noticed it was typed and believed it to be a fabrication because Bob Houston had never typed letters.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 301.] Temple members attended the funeral, and Joyce held her purse in a purposefully manner to convince Temple members the purse contained a tape recorder so that they would not bother her.

The next day, when Joyce went to the Sutter Street commune to pick up Bob's belongings, Temple member Carolyn Layton told Joyce she should not attempt to gain custody of Bob's daughters, Judy and Patricia Houston, because of documents Bob and Joyce had signed claiming they had molested the girls. The Temple frequently required members to sign such documents.

Sammy Houston conveyed the information to several Associated Press reporters, including Tim Reiterman.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 302.] Thereafter, letters from Judy and Patricia arrived at Sammy's house -- from Jonestown.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 338.]

The events ended up contributing to the Temple's final demise. Sammy Houston eventually communicated his story to a friend, Congressman Leo Ryan. The Houston story is what first interested Ryan about the Peoples Temple.. Ryan later was the Congressman who led the final investigation into Jonestown in 1978 leading to its end that day.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 457.]

The Stoens

In 1972, Timothy Stoen's wife Grace gave birth to a son John.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 130.] Two weeks later, Jim Jones secretly had Tim sign a document claiming that Tim had urged Jim to engage in sexual relations with Grace, the result of which was the conception of John.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 131.]

Grace grew to dislike the Temple after, among other things, they raised John "communally" and she witnessed the assault of Temple members.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 287.] Grace fled the San Francisco Temple in July of 1976 with another Temple member to Lake Tahoe to avoid Temple search parties. The Temple moved John to Guyana.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 292.] Several months later, at the urging of Jim Jones to avoid investigation during a possible custody dispute, Tim Stoen quit his job as Assistant District Attorney and moved to Guyana.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 317]

In June of 1977, after tensions rose regarding Timothy Stoen, he quit his job as Assistant District Attorney under Joseph Freitas and disappeared from the Temple's Georgetown, Guyana headquarters.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 324] The Stoens' later opposition, including leadership in a group called the "Concerned Relatives", would become a significant reason for the investigation by Congressman Leo Ryan and the final demise of the Temple at Jonestown.

Unita Blackwell Wright, the Mills and other conspiracies

The Temple frequently saw itself as the target of conspiracies by government agencies and others, and included these conspiracies in its literature. Peoples Temple, [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/JTResearch/opposition/3VictimConspirBrochure.pdf "Victims of Conspiracy Brochure"] , Jonestown Alternative Considerations, San Diego State University]

For example, in November of 1976, Unita Blackwell Wright, a Mississippi mayor and civil rights activist, spoke at the Geary Boulevard Temple about her trip to China with Shirley MacLaine. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 284.] Two men caught eavesdropping at the front door quickly fled in a car. The Temple traced the rental car license plates to a government electronics expert. After a series of letters with Congressman Phillip Burton, the Air Force stated that the civilian was working for it but that he was off the day of the Blackwell Wright speech. This event was added to the growing list of alleged conspiratorial actions against the Temple.

The Temple also saw conspiracies and intrigue surrounding Al and Jeannie Mills. Former Temple members Elmer and Deanna Mertle fled the Temple and changed their names to Al and Jeannie Mills.cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3|page=178-184] Jones, who saw himself as the reincarnation of Vladimir Lenin, prophetically told Jeannie before the Mills' defection that "Lenin died with a bullet in his body and so will I." [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919897-1,00.html "Paranoia And Delusions"] , Time Magazine, December 11, 1978] As an offshoot of the Temple's "Diversions Committee", it formed a "Mertle Committee", which conducted activities such as breaking into the Mills' house, with the aid of their daughter who was still a Temple member, to steal documents. The Mills would eventually begin to host meetings with other former Temple members, such as Timothy and Grace Stoen.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs Service had been investigating charges by over a dozen former Temple members that the Temple had illegally transported 170 guns to Jonestown in the false bottoms of crates.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 354 & 589.] The Temple found out about the investigation when David Conn, a longtime friend of the Mills, tipped off Temple ally Dennis Banks by telling him that Banks would be better off regarding an upcoming extradition matter if he denounced the Temple because of the investigation. Thereafter, the Mertle Committee conducted operations such as searching Conn's garbage and breaking into the crawl space under onn's house while making an anonymous threatening phone call to Conn's wife in order to listen to her response, which included mention of an "agent." The Temple wrote about the Conn and Banks meeting in its literature, calling the meeting a "blackmail attempt."

The Temple also claimed that the U.S. Postal service was tampering with its San Francisco facility mail, that "conspirators" were behind the death of alleged San Francisco Temple body guard Chris Lewis and that "reactionary forces were trying to destroy his [Jones] image because he is the most persistent fighter for social justice."

Political Activities at the Temple

While the Temple aided some local politicians, it did not do so entirely without suspicion. For example, Harvey Milk felt that Temple members were odd and dangerous. When a Milk aide became wary of the Temple's large and imposing security force following a delivery of election pamphlets, Milk cautioned the aide "Make sure you're always nice to the Peoples Temple. If they ask you to do something, do it, and then send them a note thanking them for asking you to do it. They're weird and they're dangerous, and you never want to be on their bad side." Jim Rivaldo, a political consultant and associate of Milk's said that, after later meetings at the Temple, he and Milk agreed that "there was something creepy about it."However, many politicians spoke at the San Francisco Temple, including Milk [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919893-1,00.html "Another Day of Death."] "Time Magazine". 11 December 1978] , and Governor Jerry Brown [Johnson, Tom, "Politicians Try to Explain Ties To Jones, Washington Star Ledger (Time-Life News Service), November 23, 1978] . By mid-1977, Willie Brown had visited the Temple perhaps a dozen times, some by invitation and some on his own. [Nancy Dooley & Tim Reiterman, "Jim Jones: Power Broker", San Francisco Examiner, August 7, 1977] [Layton, Deborah. "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. p. 105.] Preliminary consideration was given by Governor Brown's administration to a statewide post for Jones before his flight to Guyana. [Los Angeles Times, "S.F. Temple Active in Politics", November 21, 1978]

Willie Brown, Jerry Brown, George Moscone, Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally, District Attorney Joseph Freitas and Republican State Senator Milton Marks, among others, attended a large testimonial dinner in Jim Jones' honor in September of 1976.Layton, Deborah. "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. page 105.] [Tim Reiterman (1982) "" ISBN 0-525-24136-1 page 307] Brown served as master of ceremonies and introduced Jones, stating "Let me present to you what you should see every day when you look in the mirror in the early morning hours ... Let me present to you a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein ... Chairman Mao." [Tim Reiterman (1982) "" ISBN 0-525-24136-1 page 308] [Layton, Deborah. "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. p. 105.] [Kinsolving, Kathleen and Tom. [http://www.rickross.com/reference/jonestown/jonestown43.html "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover Up."] RickRoss.com. 1998.] At another testimonial dinner, Brown introduced Jones, referring to him as "a young man came upon the scene, became an inspiration for a whole lot of people. He’s done fantastic things." [ [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Tapes/Tapes/TapeTranscripts/Q784.htm "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 784"] ] Dymally stated that Jones was bringing together all ages and races and stated that "I am grateful he is showing an example not only in the U.S. but also in my former home territory, the Caribbean." [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 306-8.] At another testimonial dinner when Jones garnered huge applause from the thousands attending, Moscone stated "you know I’m smarter than to give a speech after listening to Reverend Jim Jones" and "there are two people I’m glad I’m not running against, Cecil Williams and Jim Jones". [ [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Tapes/Tapes/TapeTranscripts/Q784.htm "Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 784"] ]

Similarly, Milk was enthusiastically received at the Temple several times during his visits, and he always sent glowing thank-you notes to Jones after visits. For example, following one visit, Milk wrote to Jones: "Rev Jim, It may take me many a day to come back down from the high that I reach today. I found something dear today. I found a sense of being that makes up for all the hours and energy placed in a fight. I found what you wanted me to find. I shall be back. For I can never leave."VanDeCarr, Paul "Death of dreams: in November 1978, Harvey Milk's murder and the mass suicides at Jonestown nearly broke San Francisco's spirit.", The Advocate, November 25, 2003] [Sawyer, Mary [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Articles/sawyer.htm "My Lord, What a Mourning:’ Twenty Years Since Jonestown"] , Jonestown Institute at SDSU] In a hand-written note, Milk wrote to Jones "my name is cut into stone in support of you - and your people." Jim Rivaldo, who attended Temple meetings with Milk , explained that, until Jonestown, the church "was a community of people who appeared to be looking out for each other, improving their lives."

In an interview of Jim Jones by Willie Brown for a television show about the Peoples Temple, Brown stated "You've managed to make the many peoples associated with the Peoples Temple a part of a family. If you're in need of health care, you GET health care. If you're in need of legal assistance of some sort, you get that. If you're in need of transportation, you get that." [PBS, [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/jonestown/filmmore/pt.html "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple"] , 2007] Although Brown praised Jones, socialist Jones detested Brown for his sports cars, clothes and women. During one of Brown's addresses at the Temple, Jones sat behind Brown and flipped his middle finger into the air.

While the Temple received political guests, Jones used his relationship with Mayor Moscone to intimidate potentially disagreeable Temple members. For example, former Temple member Deborah Layton stated that her thoughts of running away were quashed by Jones' threats, including his statement: "Don't think you can get away with bad-mouthing this church. Mayor Moscone is my friend and he'll support my efforts to seek you out and destroy you." [Layton, Deborah. "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. p. 65.]

Media investigation and exodus

In 1976, despite the Temple's newly acquired political might and upgraded image, high visibility had heightened Jones' fears of government crackdowns and media scrutiny.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 296] In April of 1976, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Julie Smith neared completion of an unfavorable story on the Temple. Through numerous phone calls, letters and badgering of newspaper personnel, Jones was able prevent its publication. In late 1976, Chronicle reporter Marshall Kilduff wished to do a story on the Temple, but he was reluctant after witnessing the Temple's treatment of Smith.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 313] Kilduff wondered how Jones had somehow learned the exact contents of Smith's article before it had come out.

When touring the Temple, Kilduff noticed, much to his surprise, that Chronicle City editor Steve Gavin and reporter Kay Butler were in attendance.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 314] The Temple's "Peoples Forum" newspaper chided Kilduff for not having a venue for his story and stated that he was "trying to convince different periodicals that a 'smear' of a liberal church that champions minorities and the poor would make 'good copy.'"Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 325-6] Rather than dropping his story, Kilduff took the Story to New West Magazine. The Temple conducted a large letter writing and telephone campaign against New West magazine, including getting prominent allies to write and call the magazine, its advertisers and Rupert Murdoch, who owned the magazine. The magazine received fifty calls and seventy letters a day before the article was even published.

Worries about potential fallout from defecting member Grace Stoen, Joyce Shaw, Kilduff's then potential article and other controversies caused Jones to decide he wanted to begin moving the Temple to Jonestown, its agricultural project site in Guyana.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 320] Jones convened with top aides for four days to formulate a plan for exodus.In its final form, Kilduff's article contained numerous allegations of fraud, assault and potential kidnapping. [Kilduff, Marshall and Phil Tracy. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/newWestart.htm "Inside Peoples Temple."] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". Jonestown Project: San Diego State University. August 1, 1977.] Just before its late July publication, Mayor Moscone urged an ally that was the Chairman of the Board of a large department store to call friends at the magazine to inquire about the contents of the article. [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, "The Political Pull of Jim Jones", November 21, 1978] Jones fled to Guyana the night that the contents of the article to be published were read to Jones over the phone.Layton, Deborah. (1998) "Seductive Poison". Anchor, 1999. ISBN 0-3854-8984-6. p. 113.] The Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Francisco's Federal Building received a flood of perhaps five to six hundred nicely prepared requests for passports by July of 1977.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 333] While Jones' exit was hasty, the exodus of most Temple members had been carefully prepared for several weeks.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 334]

San Francisco Supervisor Quetin Kopp immediately demanded that Mayor Moscone and District Attorney Joseph Freitas launch an investigation into the Temple's activities. [Jacobs, John, "S.F's Leaders Recall Jones the Politician, San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1978] Moscone's office issued a press release stating "The Mayor's Office does not and will not conduct any investigation" because the article was "a series of allegations with absolutely no hard evidence that the Rev. Jones has violated any laws, either local, state or federal."Moore, Rebecca. "A Sympathetic History of Jonestown". Lewiston: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 0-8894-6860-5. p. 143.] [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, "The Political Pull of Jim Jones", November 21, 1978]

After a six week inquiry by the special unit formerly headed by Timothy Stoen,Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 338] District Attorney Freitas stated that his investigation turned up "no evidence of criminal wrongdoing." [Jacobs, John, "S.F's Leaders Recall Jones the Politician, San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1978] Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 333] Freitas had previously visited the Temple multiple times. [Jacobs, John, "S.F's Leaders Recall Jones the Politician, San Francisco Examiner, November 20, 1978] Following the publication of media reports alleging criminal wrongdoing, Guyanese Minister of State Kit Nasciemento contacted Freitas and was told that the case against Jones was closed. Horrock, Nicholas M., "Mass Migration Violated Jones Agreement With Guyana", December 24, 1978]

After Jones

A Temple without a leader

As the time after Jones' departure proceeded, the zealotry of the San Francisco staff turned to martyrdom.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 461] Wednesday and Sunday meetings were still held, but attendance dropped. With donations no longer rolling in, the Temple began to sell off its property. With shrinking personnel, the staff that remained became overworked. San Francisco media, such as those at the Examiner, monitored communications that Jones made from Jonestown back to Guyana via short wave radio.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 340] Much of them contained mundane requests interspersed with Jones' usual propaganda. Many in the San Francisco Temple feared that the FCC would revoke the Temple's radio license, cutting its lifeline to Jonestown.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 462]

Complicating matters, Jones made impossible demands on the now skeletal staff, including writing 1,500 letters to the FCC and 1,500 to the IRS. Any members that were seen as wavering were sent to Jonestown. Meanwhile, former Bay Area Temple allies, such as Angela Davis and Huey Newton, broadcast live radio messages to the citizens of Jonestown during Jones' fiery "White Night" rallies, telling Temple members to hold strong against the "conspiracy." [Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 369]

The Temple hired Charles R. Garry to represent it in numerous lawsuits against the Temple and to draft Freedom Of Information Act requests.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 372-3] The Temple also hired noted JFK assassination conspiracy theorist Mark Lane, who gave press conferences at the San Francisco Temple.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 441]

In October of 1978, a crippling blow occurred when San Francisco Temple leader Terry Buford defected, though she wrote a series of notes falsely claiming that she was going "under cover", as a "double agent" to infiltrate "Timothy Stoen's group."Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 465] Buford had secretly gone to stay with Temple attorney Mark Lane, whom she had met during interactions in the San Francisco headquarters.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 563-4]

Waning political clout

While most influential allies broke ties with the Temple following Jones' departure after increasing media scrutiny, some did not. [Liebert, Larry, "What Politicians Say Now About Jones", San Francisco Chronicle, November 20, 1978] For example, Willie Brown stated that the attacks were "a measure of the church’s effectiveness." [Gelb, Leslie, "California Temple Under Fire", New York Times, October 17, 1977] San Francisco columnist Herb Caen wrote "Hot story, but where's the smoking gun?", concluding, "so far lots of smoke but no gun." The "Sun Reporter" also defended the Temple.

On July 31, 1977, just after Jones had fled to Guyana, the Temple conducted a rally against political opponents attended by Willie Brown, Harvey Milk and Art Agnos, among others. [Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 327] At that rally, Brown stated "When somebody like Jim Jones comes on the scene...and constantly stresses the need for freedom of speech and equal justice under law for all people, that absolutely scares the hell out of most everybody...I will be here when you are under attack, because what you are about is what the whole system ought to be about!" [Tim Reiterman (1982) "" ISBN 0-525-24136-1 page 327] Brown also stated of Jones at the rally that " [h] e is a rare human being" and "he cares about people...Rev. Jim Jones is that person who can be helpful when all appears to be lost and hope is just about gone."Richardson, James, [http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft0m3nb07q/ "Willie Brown A Biography"] , University of California Press, 1996, p. 251]

While Mayor George Moscone refused a request to launch his own inquiry, he was deeply disturbed by the allegations against the Temple, though he thought Jones would return from Guyana.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 331] However, on August 2, 1977, Jones dictated his resignation from Guyana via radio-telephone.

Harvey Milk remained popular among temple members. Two months before the tragedy Temple members sent over fifty letters of sympathy to Milk following the death of Milk's lover, Jack Lira. The letters were formulaic and one typical letter ended, "You have our deepest sympathy in your loss and we would be glad to have you with us [in Jonestown] , even for only a short visit." Temple member Sharon Amos wrote "I had the opportunity in San Francisco when we were there to get to know you and thought very highly of your commitment to social actions and the betterment of your community." She also wrote "I hope you will be able to visit us here sometime in Jonestown. Believe it or not, it is a tremendously sophisticated community, though it is in a jungle." Amos later murdered her children with a knife at the behest of Jones in Georgetown, Guyana and subsequently committed suicide.(Tim Reiterman (1982) "" ISBN 0-525-24136-1 pp. 544-5)]

Milk spoke at a service at the Temple for the last time in October 1978. After Congressman Leo Ryan announced that he would investigate Jonestown following the November 1978 elections, Willie Brown was still planning a fund raising dinner for the Temple that was to be held on December 2 1978. [cite book |last=Richardson |first=James |url=http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft0m3nb07q |title=Willie Brown: A Biography |location=Berkeley |publisher=University of California Press |year=1997
isbn=0585249857
]

an Francisco media and the Concerned Relatives

In San Francisco, Jones suffered further damage from unfavorable media articles during his absence. Especially damaging was a February 18, 1978 article in the San Francisco Examiner, following a telephone interview with Jones, detailing a custody fight and Congressional investigation pressure surrounding the leader of the Concerned Relative group, Timothy Stoen, and Stoen's purported son John. [Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 380-3] The repercussions were devastating for the Temple's reputation, and made most former supporters even more suspicious of the Temple's claim that it was being subjected to a "rightist vendetta."Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 383] It also drew the interest of Congressman Leo Ryan, who had weeks earlier been lobbied by Stoen and wrote a letter on his behalf.Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. page 458]

The next day, on Sunday February 19, 1978, Harvey Milk wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter supporting Jones and making statements about Timothy and Grace Stoen.Milk, Harvey [http://www.brasscheck.com/jonestown/milk.jpg"Letter Addressed to President Jimmy Carter, Dated February 19, 1978"] ] [Coleman, Loren, "The Copycat Effect", Simon & Schuster, 2004, page 68] [Fishwick, Marshall, "Great Awakenings: Popular Religion and Popular Culture", Routledge, 1994, page 73] [Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1, page 315-16, 378-79 and 415-16] Milk wrote "Rev. Jones is widely known in the minority communities and elsewhere as a man of the highest character." Regarding the Stoens, Milk wrote "Timothy and Grace Stoen, the parties attempting to damage Rev. Jones reputation". Milk also wrote " [i] t is outrageous that Timothy Stoen could even think of flaunting this situation in front of Congressman with apparent bold-faced lies." The letter ended with "Mr. President, the actions of Mr. Stoen need to be brought to a halt. It is offensive to most in the San Francisco community and all those who know Rev. Jones to see this kind of outrage taking place."At Jonestown, John Stoen was found poisoned in Jim Jones' cabin. (Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. '. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1) ]

Jones also told the San Francisco Temple staff to prepare for a media blast. In order to attempt to combat the damage, the Temple sent to various newspapers the document signed by Stoen claiming that Jones was the father of the child in the custody dispute after Tim Stoen had allegedly directed Jones to engage in sexual relations with Grace Stoen.Moore, Rebecca. "A Sympathetic History of Jonestown". Lewiston: E. Mellen Press. ISBN 0-8894-6860-5. p. 249.] Herb Caen reprinted the document in his San Francisco Chronicle column.

After the tragedy

On the evening of November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Jones ordered his congregation to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. [cite book |author=Hall, John R. |title=Gone from the Promised Land: Jonestown in American Cultural History |publisher=Transaction Publishers |location=New Brunswick, New Jersey |year=1987 |isbn=0-88738-124-3|page=282] [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/Tapes/Tapes/DeathTape/death.html "Jonestown Audiotape Primary Project."] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". San Diego State University.] In all, at Jonesotwn, a nearby airstrip and Georgetown, 918 people died, including over 270 children, resulting in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the incidents of September 11, 2001. [Rapaport, Richard, [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/11/16/INGEM3070J1.DTL&type=printable "Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and memory"] , San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 2003] [Nakao, Annie. [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/04/14/DDGRTC72N11.DTL&type=printable "The ghastly Peoples Temple deaths shocked the world."] "San Francisco Chronicle". 14 April 2005.] Knapp, Don. [http://www.cnn.com/US/9811/18/jonestown.anniv.01/ "Jonestown massacre + 20: Questions linger."] "CNN.com." 18 November 1998. Accessed on 9 April, 2007.]

Judy and Patty Houston, the girls about which Carolyn Layton threatened Joyce Houston not to move for custody at the Sutter Street commune, were also found poisoned. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. pp. 571.] John Stoen, the son of former Assistant District Attorney Timothy Stoen, was found poisoned in Jim Jones cabin.

Sharon Amos, who had earlier led political pamphletting campaigns in San Francisco, murdered her children and committed suicide at the Temple's Georgetown, Guyana headquarters at the behest of Jones. Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. pp. 544-5.]

Temple and law enforecment

Paralyzing fear initially gripped the Temple's enemies as press reports of Temple "hit squads" surfaced immediately after the tragedy.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 573] Public officials, reporters and former members were all among groups reportedly targeted by such squads. San Francisco elected officials, law enforcement and mental health professionals took steps to avert the spread of violence.

Ex-members immediately traveled to the Human Freedom Center in Berkeley, California to gather under police protection and await word of the list of survivors. None of the reported hit squad ever materialized.

After years of Jones' statements about ominous forces aligning against the Temple, members at the San Francisco Temple expected an immediate attack by government troops. They were so afraid of a "McCarthy era" backlash that they smuggled documents and records past police cars stationed outside the building and burned them in a massive bonfire on the beach.Meanwhile the Geary Boulevard Temple building itself was besieged by national media -- including national television, national magazines and newspaper -- and angry relatives of victims furious at their deaths. The Temple was labeled "Cult of Death" in many sources. Relatives of victims camped outside the Temple's chained fences for days, screaming at members. The loyalists inside were as emotionally hurt as others -- perhaps 100 to 200 would have themselves taken the poison had they been in Jonestown that day. They woke up not only without friends and relatives, but also without the figure at the center of their political and religious worldview.Reiterman, Tim and John Jacobs. "". Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 574]

State and local law enforcement and prosecutors finally investigated the Temple. While they felt that health and welfare officials did not properly investigate complaints against the Temple, they found no criminal wrongdoing by Tim Stoen or other former members.

Eleven years after the mass suicide at Jonestown, the building on Geary Boulevard sustained structural damage in the Loma Prieta earthquake. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/FAQ/q_ptafternov18.htm "What happened to Peoples Temple after 18 November 1978?"] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". San Diego State University: Jonestown Project. 2007-03-08.] Since the owner was unwilling to reinforce the structure, the building was demolished, and the property remained undeveloped until the United States Postal Service opened a post office at the site in the late 1990s.

Michael Prokes

Michael Prokes, who directed the Temple's relations with several San Francisco politicians and media, survived when he was ordered to deliver a suitcase containing Temple funds to be transferred to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He committed suicide in March of 1979 at a press conference he called. In the days leading up to his death, Prokes sent notes to several people, together with a thirty-page statement he had written about Peoples Temple. Columnist Herb Caen reprinted one copy in his "San Francisco Chronicle" column. [http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/PrimarySources/Prokes_statement.htm "Statement of Michael Prokes."] "Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple". San Diego State University: Jonestown Project. Accessed 22 September 2007]

Influential allies

After the tragedy, Moscone initially defended his appointment of Jones, stating that, in 1975, Jones' reputation was that of a man who believed in social justice and racial equality, and that there was evidence that the Peoples Temple had initiated programs for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. [Johnson, Tom, "Politicians Try to Explain Ties To Jones, Washington Star Ledger (Time-Life News Service), November 23, 1978] When asked by a reporter whether he felt in any way culpable for the events, Moscone became angry at the reporter and stated "I'm not taking any responsibility, it's not mine to shoulder." [Burns, Jerry, "Willie Brown Defends Former Ties to Rev. Jones", San Francisco Chronicle, November 21, 1978]

Milk stated that "Guyana was a great experiment that didn't work. I don't know, maybe it did." [Crewdson, John, "Harvey Milk, Led Coast Homosexual Right Fight", New York Times, November 28, 1978]

Because Milk and Moscone were both killed by Dan White nine days after the Jonestown tragedy and rumors persisted of purported Temple hit squads seeking to assassinate political figures, many in San Francisco initially believed that the murders of Moscone and Milk were connected to the Temple.Rapaport, Richard, [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/11/16/INGEM3070J1.DTL&hw=jonestown&sn=009&sc=527 "Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and memory"] , San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 2003] No evidence exists that White acted at the behest of Jones or the Temple.

Unlike most other politicians, Willie Brown continued to praise Jones, feeling that attacks on Jones were effectively attacks on the black community. Brown initially stated he had "no regrets" over his past association the Temple and that he would not dissociate himself from it like other politicians. [Johnson, Tom, "Politicians Try to Explain Ties To Jones, Washington Star Ledger (Time-Life News Service), November 23, 1978] "They all like to say, 'Forgive me, I was wrong', but that's bulls—t. It doesn't mean a thing now, it just isn't relevant." [Burns, Jerry, "Willie Brown Defends Former Ties to Rev. Jones", San Francisco Chronicle, November 21, 1978] Richardson, James, [http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft0m3nb07q/ "Willie Brown A Biography"] , University of California Press, 1996, p. 252] Brown stated that his decision to speak at the Temple was "not a faulty decision at the time it was made, based on all the object factors at that time." [Burns, Jerry, "Willie Brown Defends Former Ties to Rev. Jones", San Francisco Chronicle, November 21, 1978] Brown later said "If we knew then he was mad, clearly we wouldn't have appeared with him."

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who had met with Jones on several occasions [Los Angeles Times, "Jones 'Concern For The Despaired' Cited", November 21, 1978] , refused to disparage Jones, stating that he still considered Jones to be a man that "worked for the people." [Los Angeles Times, "Jones 'Concern For The Despaired' Cited", November 21, 1978] Jackson also stated "I would hope that all of the good he did will not be discounted because of this tremendous tragedy." [Los Angeles Times, "Jones 'Concern For The Despaired' Cited", November 21, 1978] Jackson praised Moscone for "not going on a diatribe against the Peoples Temple" and "blowing the whole thing out of proportion." [Los Angeles Times, "Jones 'Concern For The Despaired' Cited", November 21, 1978]

Notes

References


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