Friday, November 21, 2014

Anniversary of the People'sTemple massacre

SF1st reminds us that this is the 36th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre. Let's fill in some of the backstory on the cult's time in San Francisco.

From New West magazine in 1977:

Jim Jones counts among his friends several of California’s well-known public officials. San Francisco mayor George Moscone has made several visits to Jones’s San Francisco temple, on Geary Street[sic], as have the city’s district attorney Joe Freitas and sheriff Richard Hongisto. And Governor Jerry Brown has visited at least once. Also, Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley has been a guest at Jones’s Los Angeles temple. 

Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally went so far as to visit Jones’s 27,000-acre agricultural station in Guyana, South America, and he pronounced himself impressed. What’s more, when Walter Mondale came campaigning for the vice-presidency in San Francisco last fall, Jim Jones was one of the few people invited aboard his chartered jet for a private visit. Last December Jones was appointed to head the city’s Housing Authority Commission.

Willie Brown and Jim Jones in 1976
four years after the Kinsolving articles in the Examiner

Tom Kinsolving on his father's expose of Jim Jones: 

After running only four articles in September 17-20, 1972, and getting picketed by Temple cultists, the Examiner went into a fetal position and surrendered for almost the next five years...

He had eight exposes set to run in the Examiner of the fraudulent, menacing cult. Four, however, never saw the light of day, thanks to Jones enforcer Tim Stoen (who later apologized for his actions...) 

The first expose, "The Prophet Who Raises The Dead," ran on the front page of The Examiner, Sunday, Sept. 17, 1972. Those that have wanted it, or the other three, never published again, for their own self-serving, immoral reasons, will now no longer have their way. These, and the other four exposes that were originally censored under the threat of Jones and Stoen's law suits, will be published in their chilling entirety right here

Then you'll understand that one of the greatest crimes was simply that the Jonestown Massacre never needed to happen, only for the fact that the Examiner and the rest of the California media lost their backbone in 1972...

When New West magazine published "Inside People's Temple" in 1977, it triggered the cult's exodus from San Francisco to Guyana. From that article:

The source of Jones’s political clout is not very difficult to divine. As one politically astute executive puts it: “He controls votes.” And voters. During San Francisco’s run-off election for mayor in December of 1975, some 150 temple members walked precincts to get out the vote for George Moscone, who won by a slim 4,000 votes. 

“They’re well-dressed, polite and they’re all registered to vote,” said one Moscone campaign official. Can you win office in San Francisco without Jones? “In a tight race like the ones that George or Freitas or Hongisto had, forget it without Jones,” said State Assemblyman Willie Brown, who describes himself as an admirer of Jones’s.

Supervisor Harvey Milk was still trying to help Jim Jones months before the massacre:

The custody case in which Milk was encouraging President Carter's intervention was successful. Jones was allowed to keep the child, who was murdered in the massacre later that year.

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