From the KQED Archives: 40th Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre


– Good evening and welcome
once again to A Closer Look. I’m Belva Davis. The bodies of at least 409
men, women and children. Some shot to death, most
apparently self-poisoned have been found at the Guyana Jungle Camp of Peoples Temple. Among the bodies were
those of the Temple’s fanatical founder, the
Reverend Jim Jones, his wife and at least one of their children. All the dead were
believed to be Americans, many of them from the Bay Area. Most had reportedly stood
in line to take doses of cyanide-laced Kool-Aid
from a large tub. Here in San Francisco, the
mood at the Peoples Temple has been one of apprehension and waiting. The Temple members are waiting inside on a large press group outside. – [Reporter] For the last two days, the Peoples Temple on O’Farrell
Street in San Francisco here has been like the Patty
Hearst story, a media event. The crush of reporters,
international, national and local has been met with virtual
silence from the some 25 Temple members left at the
Temple headquarters here. – I know they’re our families,
they’re our love ones and how do you explain grief? You know we feel. We’re not monsters, I mean. A lot of use feel like we’ve
been depicted as monsters. We feel very deeply the terrible, terrible tragedy that has happened. My wife is there and I assume she’s dead. I have no way of knowing any otherwise. We hear today that more people have died. Everybody found more bodies whatever. – I don’t think my life’s
ever gonna be the same after this, I really don’t. That won’t change my devotion or commitment to serving humanity or trying to help bring
about a better world. I have been a member of the
Peoples Temple for 27 years. I’d give my life to this commitment. I have no reason to turn
back and don’t intend to. – [Interviewer] Are they disgusted
with Jim Jones right now? What he did, the people
inside the headquarters here? – The people here inside
of the headquarters did not know what had happened
until I related to them, what I’d been relating to you. They are in a state of shock
and they don’t know what to say and what to think. You understand that these men and women here had been dedicated and been dedicated to
the cause of Socialism. To a better way of life and this comes to them as a
complete shock and a surprise. – Jim Jones was completely insane and just prior to a visit
by Congressman Leo Ryan. If I would have made a drastic
stand against Peoples Temple. I felt that what actually
happened on the 18th of November might have been precipitated
at an earlier time. He was a complete maniac and to feel undo pressure at that time, I thought would be immoral on my part. – I wouldn’t over exaggerate
his political influence. Simply say that he was a person
that most public officials made it a point to visit and talk to and I’m sure all of them found
him to be the kind of man I did at that time. Again what has happened between then and now is only God knows. – [Reporter] The State
Department hasn’t released any information on the Peoples Temple dead but one official in
Washington told me today that perhaps as many as 200 of those dead are children between
the ages of five and 18. Like many of the adults,
quite a few of them were from the San Francisco area. – I’m just saddened by
the loss of Jonestown but I feel no bitterness you
know, of what Jim had to do. In my opinion, I felt he had to do that. That was the best choice he
could have made at that time. I know that it is a belief that I have. I would have died and
would have fought long and hard for what we had in Jonestown. I know there are many of my brothers and sisters who felt the same way. (birds chirping)

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Comments

  1. 40 years ago today. I remember seeing the events on tv. It was sad this happen losing these poeple . That Jim Jones was a devil who control these poeple and he was a crazy man. It breaks my heart of the children . We well never for get it. I feel sorry for these people who listen to this devil. I hope u all found peace. 🤚

  2. i watched a lot of this year and heard about jonestown and peoples temple in past year and honest to god i did not know this year was gonna be 40 years since that tragedy happen and i did my research in April which led me to the anniversary. 900 cant be crazy they was tricked.

  3. after singing "The greatest love of all" they're all dead the following morning on 18th November 1978, exactly from 40

    years, and ten days back –intoxicating KoolAid with cyanide by order of their sect founder the homosexual Jim Jones
    . It only shows that any religious leader who'd spat at the Bible's deranged

  4. Am I misunderstanding the woman at the end? She says she has no bitterness toward Jim Jones over “what he had to do,” and that “it was the best choice he could make at that time.” Ugh.

  5. They brought their bodies back to family & friends, hoping that now their souls are at piece from the truth being told ❤ so so sad!

  6. I remember well when this happened. And strange how the Democratic Party was the one that supported Jim Jones all the way.

  7. This is what religion does to u when u looking for a savior through mortal psycho pastors. These stories have helped me remember to follow no one. U don't need a mediator between u and the creator to lead u as blind sheep. If u truly believe in a UNSEEN GOD and it works for u… never follow mankind. They lost too learning the path. Be a Oracle guide not God over humankind to follow u = red flag

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