J

BLOGGING FROM A TO Z

A 1970’s Time Capsule

NEWS AND NOTEWORTHY

Be sure to visit my Pop Culture post today as well.

The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

WARNING SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS POST MAY BE TOO GRAPHIC.  I AVOIDED THE CLOSE UP DEATH IMAGES.

jonestown_film_landing

On November 18, 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones led hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide at their agricultural commune in a remote part of the South American nation of Guyana. Many of Jones’ followers willingly ingested a poison-laced punch while others were forced to do so at gunpoint. The final death toll at Jonestown that day was 909; a third of those who perished were children.

42_full

Jim Jones was a charismatic churchman who established the Peoples Temple, a Christian sect, in Indianapolis in the 1950s. He preached against racism, and his integrated congregation attracted many African Americans. In 1965, he moved the group to Northern California, settling in Ukiah and after 1971 in San Francisco.

In the 1970s, his church was accused by the media of financial fraud, physical abuse of its members and mistreatment of children. In response to the mounting criticism, the increasingly paranoid Jones invited his congregation to move with him to Guyana, where he promised they would build a socialist utopia. Three years earlier, a small group of his followers had traveled to the tiny nation to set up what would become Jonestown on a tract of jungle.

Brochure of the Peoples_Temple portraying cult leader Jim Jones as the loving father of the "Rainbow Family".

Brochure of the Peoples_Temple portraying cult leader Jim Jones as the loving father of the “Rainbow Family”.

Jonestown did not turn out to be the paradise their leader had promised. Temple members worked long days in the fields and were subjected to harsh punishments if they questioned Jones’ authority. Their passports were confiscated, their letters home censored and members were encouraged to inform on one another and forced to attend lengthy, late-night meetings. Jones, by then in declining mental health and addicted to drugs, was convinced the U.S. government and others were out to destroy him. He required Temple members to participate in mock suicide drills in the middle of the night.

In 1978, a group of former Temple members and concerned relatives of current members convinced U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, a Democrat of California, to travel to Jonestown and investigate the settlement. On November 17, 1978, Ryan arrived in Jonestown with a group of journalists and other observers.

Congressional Inquiry The trouble at Jonestown began with the arrival of Congressman Leo Ryan, right, who represented a district in Northern California where relatives of some of the cult members lived. Ryan, urged by a group calling itself Concerned Relatives to learn more about the Temple’s activities, traveled to Guyana with government officials, journalists and members of the relatives’ group.

Congressional Inquiry
The trouble at Jonestown began with the arrival of Congressman Leo Ryan, right, who represented a district in Northern California where relatives of some of the cult members lived. Ryan, urged by a group calling itself Concerned Relatives to learn more about the Temple’s activities, traveled to Guyana with government officials, journalists and members of the relatives’ group.

At first the visit went well, but the next day, as Ryan’s delegation was about to leave, several Jonestown residents approached the group and asked them for passage out of Guyana. Jones became distressed at the defection of his followers, and one of Jones’ lieutenants attacked Ryan with a knife. The congressman escaped from the incident unharmed, but Jones then ordered Ryan and his companions ambushed and killed at the airstrip as they attempted to leave. The congressman and four others were murdered as they boarded their charter planes.

JONESTOWN-18NOV1978-REITERMAN - Guyana Ambush Scene - the bodies of five persons, including Congressman Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., lie on airstrip at Port Kaituma, Guyana, in November 18, 1978, after an ambush by members of the Peopls Temple Cult. The reporter Tim Reiterman, who made it with the camera of photographer Greg Robinson, who was among the slain. Photo by Tim Reiterman, San Francisco Examiner Photo: Tim Reiterman, SF Examiner / Bancroft Library

JONESTOWN-18NOV1978-REITERMAN – Guyana Ambush Scene – the bodies of five persons, including Congressman Leo J. Ryan, D-Calif., lie on airstrip at Port Kaituma, Guyana, in November 18, 1978, after an ambush by members of the Peopls Temple Cult. The reporter Tim Reiterman, who made it with the camera of photographer Greg Robinson, who was among the slain. Photo by Tim Reiterman, San Francisco Examiner Photo: Tim Reiterman, SF Examiner / Bancroft Library

The five killed at the airstrip were Congressman Ryan; Don Harris, a reporter from NBC; Bob Brown, a cameraman from NBC; San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson; and Temple member Patricia Parks.[86] Surviving the attack were future Congresswoman Jackie Speier, then a staff member for Ryan; Richard Dwyer, the Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy at Georgetown; Bob Flick, a producer for NBC News; Steve Sung, an NBC sound engineer; Tim Reiterman, a San Francisco Examiner reporter; Ron Javers, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter; Charles Krause, a Washington Post reporter; and several defecting Temple members.

Back in Jonestown, Jones commanded everyone to gather in the main pavilion and commit what he termed a “revolutionary act.” The youngest members of the Peoples Temple were the first to die, as parents and nurses used syringes to drop a potent mix of cyanide, sedatives and powdered fruit juice into children’s throats. Adults then lined up to drink the poison-laced concoction while armed guards surrounded the pavilion.

Pile of Syringes and Paper cups of fruit drink

Pile of Syringes and Paper cups of fruit drink

When Guyanese officials arrived at the Jonestown compound the next day, they found it carpeted with hundreds of bodies. Many people had perished with their arms around each other. A few residents managed to escape into the jungle as the suicides took place, while at least several dozen more Peoples Temple members, including several of Jones’ sons, survived because they were in another part of Guyana at the time.

Of course you do not have to go back 35 years to find religious cults.  Read about David Koresh and the Branch Davidian Ranch

All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.
Advertisements

6 responses

  1. Lata Sunil says:

    Oh.. this is so creepy.. Crazy cults

    Like

  2. Denise says:

    Isn’t this where the phrase ‘drinking the Kool-Aid’ came from? so scary so sad.

    Like

  3. Birgit says:

    I was riveted to the TV when this happened. I found and still do, this person one evil person. He was horrible. I watched a show where one of the people who used to belong to that cult, and the place is overgrown now. Strange to see it now

    Like