Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brasscheck Research

The Jonestown Massacre:A Tragedy Made in San Francisco

"We Support Jim Jones"

Note: The pictures on this page and the next appeared in the book Six Years with God The author, Jeannie Mills, her husband Al, and daughter Daphne were found murdered in their Berkeley home in 1980.
The Mills family, escapees from the People's Temple, had been threatened with death by Jones' supporters. Mills had been director of publicity for the "church" and had extensive knowledge and documentation of its relationship with local political figures. No one has ever been charged with the murder of the Mills family and the crime has never been solved.

Mayor George Moscone and Jim Jones meet Walter Mondale at SFO - Willie Brown attributed Moscone's electoral victory to Jones
"Mayor George Moscone said yesterday that his office will not conduct any investigation into allegations that have been made about Rev. Jim Jones. . ." - July 27, 1977
District Attorney Joseph Frietas appointed Jones attorney Tim Stoen to investigate allegations of election fraud in Moscone's election even though members of the People's Temple were among the prime suspects. Election fraud continues to be a tradition in San Francisco today.

Jones delivered votes for Jerry Brown's campaign for governor. As governor, Brown ordered the Temple's records removed from San Francisco to Sacramento just weeks after the Jonestown murders
"Ninety-nine percent of all the work done by People's Temple is in the service of the elderly, poor families, and troubled youth. . . It is most unfortunate that some people. . . feel threatened by this simple organization and philosophy of service." -Art Agnosphotocopy of the full letter

Mutual admiration society: Preacher-entrepreneur Cecil Williams, Police Chief Charles Gain, and Jim Jones - While building his "church" in San Francisco, Jones was engaged in extensive financial fraud and the torture and sexual abuse of children. Local politicians like Williams and Gain "saw no evil."
"Called less formally PT, the church is best known and highly regarded for its social works, which include housing and feeding senior citizens and medical convalenscents, maintaining a home for retarded boys, rehabilitating youthful drug users. . ."
Charles deYoung Thieriot, Publisher of the Chronicle

"Timothy and Grace Stoen, the parties that have been attempting to damage Rev. Jones' reputation, and seriously disrupt the life of his son, John, have already been discredited by the news media here." - Harvey Milk - photocopy of the full letter

Bob Wallach, head of the SF Bar Association and Jones. The People's Temple kept a small army of San Francisco attorneys busy as they successfully fought parents for custody of their own children and engaged in a wide variety of fraudulent activities. The legal fees were money well spent as local courts found in Jones' favor in every case.

"Jim Jones is a rare, rare specimen. Jim Jones is a symbol of what we all ought to be about. . . Jim Jones is, in my opinion, a true human being." -Willie Brown, Jr.

About some of the 287 children who were murdered in Jonestown


The Jonestown Massacre:A Tragedy Made in San Francisco

Promotional photo taken in 1972 and
used widely to demonstrate Jones' love of children

Standing, left to right top:
Kim Uneii - murdered in Jonestown
John-John Stoen (baby being held by Uneii) - murdered in Jonestown
Phil Lacey - survivor. His mother and sister were murdered in Jonestown
Dorothy Buckley - murdered in Jonestown
Name withheld - survivor
Darrin Swinney - murdered in Jonestown

Sitting, left to right bottom:
Danny Beck - murdered in Jonestown
Steve Burnham - survivor
Martin Amos - murdered in Jonestown
Danny Pierson - believed to have survived, but whereabouts unknown
Darrin Janaro - murdered in Jonestown

(Phil Lacey and Danny Pierson return a big fat zero on Google (other than the wake Brasscheck kicked up by releasing the names of the children in the photograph)---proof to my way of thinking that only those who shun the media spotlight for 30 years can hope to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. As for the rest...)

From a cable sent to the State Department by Consul Richard McCoy after a visit to Jonestown on August 30, 1978:



"The Examiner had the goods on Jones more than six years before Jonestown"
Lester Kinsolving's report - Examiner reporter whose 1972 reporting on Jones was suppressed by the Examiner's publisher.

Another very detailed report on the failure of the San Francisco news media to report on Jones' misdeeds in California - MUST READING: "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover-Up"

287 children were
murdered in Jonestown

On December 12, 1978, the New York Times reported that a Guyanese court ruled that all but three of the deaths in Jonestown were the result of murder, not suicide. No California politician, official, judge, or attorney who participated with Jones in schemes to defraud government social programs, rig elections, or remove children from their parents or state supervision has ever been charged or even investigated for their complicity in these crimes.

Summary of fact

Willie Brown Jr. is now mayor of San Francisco

Jerry Brown is now mayor of Oakland

Art Agnos was mayor of San Francisco and is now a regional director for HUD

George Moscone and Harvey Milk were assassinated by Dan White, a former San Francisco police officer, nine days after the Jonestown Massacre.

District Attorney Joseph Frietas, who was elected through Jim Jones' support and who appointed Jones' own attorney to investigate election fraud in the 1975 election, personally handled the prosecution. White was acquitted of first degree murder on a technicality so ridiculous ("the Twinkie defense") that it was later outlawed by the state of California.

Links for additional research

An old tradition: Political corruption in San Francisco

An old tradition: Political corruption in San Francisco

Jonestown and election fraud in the 1975 fall election in San Francisco

A contemporary example of election fraud in San Francisco featuring Jones ally Willie Brown.

The destruction of the Fillmore and economic violence against San Francisco's black community

Ken McCarthy's review of ABC's one hour special on Jonestown aired October 18, 1998, one month before the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

The Scapegoat Generation - How American media owners and politicians, with California offering a particular odious example, use disinformation about the young to promote the cutting of social programs and building of more jails.

Primary Source Materials From The U.S. Department of State - Includes letters from Joseph Alioto, Harvey Milk, Art Agnos and Sue Bierman written on behalf of Jim Jones and disputing the charges of the "Concerned Relatives." Also includes the complete text of a flyer published by the "Concerned Relatives" and a formerly classified State Department document listing those who'd formally petitioned the government for help in insuring the safety of their family members prior to the mass murders.Books about Jonestown that address Jones' central role in the political culture of San Francisco:

Children of Jonestown - will be back in print soon. Author Kenneth Wooden now runs an organization that teachers children to recognize and protect themselves from abusive people. It's called

Child Lures

Hold Hands and Die - out of print

Raven - out of print

Heavenly Deceptor "The mass suicides and murders In Jonestown, Guyana, were the most widely followed event of 1978, with a remarkable 98% of Americans saying they heard or read about the tragic occurrence. Few events, in fact, in the entire 43-year history of the Gallup Poll have been known to such a high proportion of the U.S. public."  - George Gallup

For information about another "mass suicide" that the US news media either bungled or deliberately distorted, see Brasscheck's report on Heaven's Gate. Like Jonestown, it was the one of the most covered stories of its time (ex. on the cover of Newsweek two weeks in a row), yet the reporting was so inaccurate and lacking in basic common sense as to defy belief.

"...and whoever kills one innocent soul, it is as if he killed the entire humanity."

The Koran - Chapter 5, Verse 32

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December 17, 1978, New York Times, Followers Say Jim Jones Directed Voting Frauds, by John M. Crewdson,

Caption: Joseph Freitas, the San Francisco District Attorney, was among candidates supported by the Rev. Jim Jones. Wanda Johnson, a former People's Temple member, has alleged that followers of Mr. Jones engaged in fraudulent voting practices to help elect some of the candidates he supported.

San Francisco, Dec. 16--Determined to help elect politicians friendly toward his People's Temple, the Rev. Jim Jones ordered what former temple members say was an organized campaign of fraudulent voting practices that included importing busloads of illegal voters to cast their ballots in this city's 1975 municipal elections.

Among those named by some of Mr. Jones's former followers as recipients of his political support were Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, both of whom were shot and killed in their City Hall offices, three weeks ago, allegedly by an enraged former city official. The police have said that the shooting was unrelated to the People's Temple.

The former followers said that Mr. Jones had also ardently supported Joseph Freitas, the San Francisco District Attorney; Mervyn Dymally, the Lieutenant Governor of California; State Senator Milton Marks and Willie Brown Jr., the city's State Assemblyman. There is no indication that any of these candidates were aware of the alleged illegal assistance from Mr. Jones.

The alleged voting fraud is now under investigation by Mr. Freitas. False voter registration in California is perjury, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

Busloads of Voters

One former temple member, Neva Sly, recalled in an interview that her husband, Don, had driven busloads of temple members here to vote from Redwood Valley, Mr. Jones's settlement in northern California, and also from the temple's branch in Los Angeles.

The out-of-town voters, Mrs. Sly said, were previously registered at the addresses of temple members living in San Francisco.

Don Sly, the man identified as having held a knife to the throat of Representative Leo J. Ryan in the trouble at the temple's Guyana outpost a month ago, is among those unaccounted for in the aftermath of Mr. Ryan's murder and the murders and suicides of Mr. Jones and more than 900 of his followers.

Wanda Johnson, who resigned from the temple in 1976, described Mr. Sly as the "head bus driver" and said that in addition to those he transported "hundreds" of other members living secretly "at the San Francisco temple" in violation of health and welfare laws had also been registered at addresses scattered around the city.

(Editor's note: These violations, reported by city workers, were ignored by city officials.)

Registered Nonresidents

Kay Henderson, who belonged to the temple from 1971 until 1975, recalled that several members who had never resided at her San Francisco home had been registered to vote at that address without her knowledge.

She did not become aware of that, she said, until their voter registration packets began arriving with her mail. Mrs. Henderson said she concluded that there was at least "the possibility of voter fraud" but that, like other former temple members, she had kept her silence out of fear of retaliation from Mr. Jones.

Anyone registering to vote here in 1975 was required to sign an affidavit affirming that his residence was in San Francisco, but no effort was made to check on the accuracy of the declarations.

"When Jones wanted someone elected, he got them elected," Mrs. Johnson said, and, although her remark contains some overstatement, since some of the candidates Mr. Jones backed were defeated, there is little doubt that he controlled the votes of several thousand of his followers, enough to make the difference in a close election.

Slim Moscone Margin

In the runoff election for the Mayor's office in 1975, for example, Mr. Moscone was elected by just 4,000 votes, and Mr. Freitas won by fewer than 10,000.

"Jones swayed elections," said Jeannie Mills, who with her husband, Al, defected from the temple in the fall of 1975. "He told us how to vote."

Shortly before an election, Mrs. Mills said, temple members were given sample ballots marked with Mr. Jones's choices to take with them to the polls.

Following an election, Mrs. Johnson added, members were required to produce ballot stubs showing that they had indeed voted. Nonvoters, she said, were "pushed around, roughed up, physically abused."

Asked how Mr. Jones could insure that members actually voted for his chosen candidates, Mrs. Mills gave a little laugh. "You don't understand," she said, "we wanted to do what he told us to."

Voting Bloc of 5,000

Judging from various estimates, Mr. Jones's adherents probably numbered about 5,000--a sizable bloc in a city where the average voter turnout runs close to 200,000.

In the months that followed the 1975 election, Mr. Freitas, the new District Attorney, began an inquiry into reports that large numbers of people had voted illegally in San Francisco while residing in neighboring cities.

n reports first became public that Mr. Freitas was pursuing such an investigation, Mrs. Johnson said, Mr. Jones grew concerned, and, on one occasion, said as much before a meeting of the temple's governing body, known as the Planning Commission.

In charge of the vote fraud investigation, Mr. Freitas placed Timothy O. Stoen, a newly hired deputy district attorney who was also a longtime member of the temple and chief legal adviser to Mr. Jones.

Although about 50 people were subsequently indicted, most of them for having voted in San Francisco while living outside the city, none were members of the People's Temple.

Allegation Not Recalled

In an interview two weeks ago, Mr. Stoen said that no one had ever made the allegation to him that temple members had voted illegally in San Francisco.

Asked whether, given his position in the temple, it could have happened without his knowledge, Mr. Stoen replied, "It certainly could have. Jim Jones kept a lot of things from me."

Mr. Freitas, the District Attorney, said that the investigation begun three weeks ago into possible voting irregularities involving temple members had so far established that no such allegations had been brought to the attention of his office during Mr. Stoen's tenure there.

In August 1977, the District Attorney's office began an investigation of the People's Temple, prompted by an article in New West magazine the previous month alleging that some temple members had been subjected to physical brutality and coerced into deeding their personal property over to Mr. Jones.

Author's Version Differs

Although neither the article nor the subsequent investigation touched on possible voter fraud, Phil Tracy, one of the article's co-authors, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he had heard allegations of such fraud and had passed them on to Mr. Freitas in person.

Mr. Freitas said that he had no recollection of any such conversation with Mr. Tracy.

"In February 1978 the DA's office (Freitas) told the registrar it was no longer necessary to retain 1975 election files. They were subsequently destroyed."Source: "People's Temple and the DA's Office" - San Francisco Examiner January 21, 1979

Although former temple members recalled that Mr. Jones and his followers worked for the election of Mr. Freitas to the District Attorney's seat, Mr. Freitas said that he had been unaware not only of their support but also of the temple's existence until after his election.

After he assumed office, however, Mr. Freitas was among those who attended a testimonial dinner in Mr. Jones's honor and last year the People's Temple sent a check for $400, drawn on its own account, to an organization calling itself the Friends of Freitas.

The temple is a nonprofit California corporation that over the years has claimed an exemption from payment of Federal taxes on religious grounds, and as such it would be prohibited from making contributions to political candidates.

But aides to Mr. Freitas said that the money had not been earmarked for a future campaign but had been meant to be used by the District Attorney to defray expenses related to his job for which he was not reimbursed by the city.

An Election Day Trip

Former temple members have also said that other members living in the San Francisco area had been illegally registered to vote in Ukiah, the site of the Redwood Valley settlement, and then driven there by Mr. Sly and others on election day.

Wanda Johnson, who took a job in Ukiah as a registrar of voters, said that she had signed up about 20 of the San Francisco residents herself.

Sometime in 1977, according to Mr. Freitas, the San Francisco district attorney's office learned of alleged voting irregularities involving temple members in Ukiah and passed the information on to authorities there.

But Duncan James, the Mendocino County District Attorney, said that his office had never received such information from any source.

Before he moved to San Francisco with Mr. Jones and the majority of the temple's members, Timothy Stoen had worked as an assistant district attorney in Ukiah under Mr. James.


". . .(a) federal investigation has developed information that (assistant district attorney) Stoen misused his position to obstruct pending investigations that might have adversely impacted on the Peoples Temple of which he was then a member." - California State Attorney General Evelle Younger in a letter to San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas informing him that his office was under investigation.

July 25, 1976, San Francisco Chronicle, Freitas, supes challenged in vote scandal, by Larry Hatfield,

San Francisco's voter fraud is not being adequately investigated because Dist. Atty. Joseph Freitas Jr. and a special supervisors committee are both too politically motivated to do so, a citizen committee charged here yesterday.

The Fair Election Review Committee, set up after last fall's elections resulted in charges of wide spread registration fraud, asked Atty. Gen. Evelle J. Younger to take over the investigation.

A Younger spokesman, however, denied a report from the committee that his office has started an investigation.

"We are not involved," said Deputy. Atty. Gen. Bill Stein. "We have referred the matter to the local district attorney. That's normally the case. Unless there is a local inability to prosecute, we don't get involved."

Stein added, however, that his office was "looking into" a suggestion by the committee that Freitas might have a conflict of interest in investigating the election.

John Ritchie, a real estate man and chairman of the FERC, explained that "The committee feels very strongly that it is kind of an absurdity to have the district attorney investigating the election in which he was a winning candidate."

"What we're interested in in fair elections," Ritchie said. "We want to know why in the 1975 elections there were so many irregularities. . .Was it a fraudulent election? And if it was, who engineered it? Who encouraged large groups of people to register fraudulently?

Freitas has secured some two dozen criminal fraud indictments and pledges more, but Ritchie says that it is not enough.

"In our opinion, many questions, including those of conspiracy, voter intimidation, willful violation of the secrecy of the ballot, improper printing of the ballot, pecuniary considerations in the partisan registration of voters and quid pro quo in the form of appointments, have not yet been adequately investigated," the committee told Younger.

"The civil rights of the voters of San Francisco were violated and we don't think that should be ignored," he said.

The committee began its own investigation but ran out of money after spending about $30,000 he said.

January 21, 1979, San Francisco Examiner, People's Temple and the DA's Office,

"In February 1978 the DA's office told the registrar it was no longer necessary to retain 1975 election files. They were subsequently destroyed."

Note: What Ritchie and FERC did not know at the time of this interview was that Freitas had been elected with the active help of Jim Jones and the People's Temple. Later, members would confess to being engaged in a program to swing the election with illegal votes.

Freitas, the District Attorney, who along with Willie Brown and George Moscone was voted into office through this fraudulent election, appointed Tim Stoen, an officer in Jim Jones' "church" to run the election fraud investigation. Dozens of people were charged with individual actions of voting fraud, but the primary culprits behind the fraud were never investigated or charged.

Freitas claimed to reporter Warren Hinckle that he'd never heard of the People's Temple until after the election and that he picked Tim Stoen's resume out of the mail when he appointed him to head the voter fraud unit. Willie Brown was quoted at the time of the election that neither Moscone nor Freitas could have been elected without Jones' support. After the election, Brown used his influence to have Moscone appoint Jim Jones to head the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

Willie Brown:The Formative Years
Been there, done that

Early experiences with election fraud and organized crime
From Willie Brown - A Biography by James Richardson, senior writer for the Sacramento Bee. Published by the University of California Press, 1997.

Election fraud - A star is born

"In helping (Terry) Francois, Brown did not play by the rules. On the day of the election, December 11, 1955, Brown rounded up blacks anywhere he could find them - "bums off the street" Brown recalled - and brought them to the election meeting at Jones Methodist Church. He paid their annual $2 dues and got them a ballot. Roughly one-third of the city's longshoremen were Negroes, and dozens showed up to vote. Because of Brown packing the meeting, Francois won ninety-seven votes to Kennedy's eighty-one. Willie had done well for Francoise.

Two days later, twenty-one of Kennedy's supporters privately petitioned the New York NAACP headquarters to throw out the election. Their complaint noted a number of serious: New members were signed up on the spot and allowed to vote, contrary to rules that required them to be on the membership roles for thirty days; there were no secret ballots; the voting was held in a crowded hallway. "Many ballots were marked by people other than those to whom they were issued," they claimed. Other complaints followed: Ethel Ray Nance, a branch board member, complained that the meeting was packed with burly dock workers. She feared that "the branch may swing beyond control."

New York NAACP officials were disturbed with what they had heard from San Francisco. Roy Wilkens, executive secretary of the NAACP. responded on January 10, 1956, by suspending the election pending an investigation. It was the beginning of a stormy relationship between Wilkens and Francois and, by extension, between Wilkens and Willie Brown.

On March 16, 1956, the NAACP national board of directors nullified the election and rebuked Francois and his followers."

Raised on organized crime and official corruption

"Itsie Collins's casino was on that particular block (Post between Fillmore and Steiner) Unobtrusively called the "Smoke Shop," it had a counter with cigars and candy in the front. Behind the counter was a door, and behind that door was another door. Behind that was the casino. If the police were lurking, the man selling cigars in front would push a button with his foot setting off a light inside the casino. By the time the police got through the door, the evidence of gambling was removed.

The police regularly collected a cut in return for leaving the casinos alone or going easy when they raided. "You can't make money unless you make money for them, too," Collins explained. Collins met a police officer every Monday on the same corner and left an envelope full of cash on the seat of the patrol car.

In recent years, protective of his politician nephew, Collins consistently told reporters that Willie Brown had no involvement in the gambling business in those wide-open days.

But that was not the whole story.

Brown was involved in his uncle's gambling business. His involvement was unavoidable. Pressed on the subject in an interview for this book, Brown replied that he used his uncle's shoe-shine chair as a lookout post: "I did during a brief period of working, I think, as a shoe-shine boy at or near where Itsie and his crowd hung out and would on occasion let him know if there was any police around. I was not the watch person, as such, but I certainly wouldn't want them to get busted."

From Willie Brown - A Biography by James Richardson, senior writer for the Sacramento Bee. Published by the University of California Press, 1997.

"Rev. Jones is regarded among government officials, civic and religious leaders, and particularly the black community and working class people, with utter respect.." --Willie Brown Jr.

At the very same time Brown made this remark, many legitimate leaders of San Francisco's beleaguered black community expressed grave concerns about Jones' conduct.

One, Reverend Hannibal Williams, who received death threats from the Peoples Temple, brought his concerns to District Attorney Joseph Freitas, a political ally of Willie Brown. Peoples Temple attorney Tim Stoen, who Freitas had made an assistant district attorney, attempted to kill the investigation.

Source: Former DA investigator Robert Corriea as reported in the January 21st, 1979 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. More about Joseph Freitas, Tim Stoen, and Willie Brown on the following pages.

October 8, 1979, The Donahue Show, Transcript No. 10089, A few weeks after the massacre in Jonestown, Governor Jerry Brown ordered the Temple's records removed from San Francisco,

AUDIENCE: (Marilyn Wood) The governor mentioned that he was concerned about the poor and millions of starving children. I wonder why he wasn't more concerned about the guardianships of the hundreds of children he signed over to Reverend Jim Jones.

GOV. BROWN: That's not true.

AUDIENCE: There was an article

GOV. BROWN: I know there was an article, but the article was false. The state of California provides money, as well as the federal government, for local welfare programs, aid to dependent children, as well as foster care, and those programs are supervised at the local county level. And our State Department of Welfare has investigated those problems and has required the counties and local governments to tighten up. But that was never done within the approval of the state government. In fact, it was done by misrepresentation at the local level and was never brought to our attention.

AUDIENCE: But there were quotes and pictures with you and Jones, commenting on how great he was, and what a responsible person he was.

GOV. BROWN: That's not true.

AUDIENCE: Are you denying, then, this article, this series of articles?

GOV. BROWN: Yes. It's totally false.

AUDIENCE: You had no involvement. You're not involved in any kind of a cover-up - and the State of California is not involved in any kind of a cover-up involving these children.

GOV. BROWN: That's right, and if you have any information to the contrary, I'd like to hear about it.

AUDIENCE: I think you should read this series of articles*

* A series of seven articles written by Kenneth Wooden for the Chicago Sun-Times (June 1979.)

California officials refused to talk to a federal Investigation Unit about the children of Jonestown. Attempts by the writer to reach even Gov. Brown's press secretaries for rebuttal were also rebuffed.

Investigative reporter Gordon Lindsay claims he repeatedly warned Jerry Brown of the cruelty and misuse of public funds in People's Temple. Several former Temple members who informed the Governor's office in Sacramento of Jones' crimes were also ignored.

Brown had accepted People's Temple contributions and the help of the church's children in his electoral campaigns. He had known, too, the potential votes Jones's "troops" commanded for future campaigns for higher office.

Source: Kenneth Wooden, former reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times

"The Staff Investigative Group was informed by State Department witnesses that the U.S. Embassy in Guyana was never asked by California welfare officials to check on the welfare and whereabouts of California foster children reported living in Jonestown."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Report: "The Assassination of Representative Leo J. Ryan and the Jonestown, Guyana, Tragedy."

October 12th, 1980, Kirkus Review, The Children of Jonestown, by Kenneth Wooden,

A blistering indictment, messily but powerfully written, of the judges, politicians, and bureaucrats whose indifference, says Wooden, sent 276 children to their death in Jonestown. Wooden is a correspondent for the Chicago Sun-Times and an expert on institutional child abuse. The core of his argument seems hard to refute: the Rev. Jim Jones used children under 16 as the building blocks of his empire by 1) having parents sign their offspring over to him, making them the legal wards of various People's Temple members and thereby garnering a fortune in government checks; 2) reducing the children to slaves (round the clock fund-raising in California, stoop labor in Guyana); and 3) blackmailing the parents to follow him to Jonestown and otherwise remain loyal to the end. In the course of this horrendous exploitation Jones repeatedly flouted state and federal law (e.g., by removing foster care children from the country), but only a handful of people blew the whistle on him, or tried to, and no one in power actually did anything until Leo Ryan began his fateful investigation. Why? Wooden explains it all by a combination of official gutlessness, wrongheaded liberalism (even the San Francisco branch of the ACLU wanted to stop a mild expose of Jones from appearing in New West magazine), and wirepulling by Jones' henchmen. There's a lot of truth in this, it may even be completely true. The problem is that Wooden says nothing useful about the psychology of either Jones (whom he treats as a homicidal maniac, pure and simple) or his key aides, such as his team of lawyers or the head executioner, Dr. Larry Schacht, or the adult fanatics who killed themselves at his bidding. These are painful and possibly inscrutable mysteries, but unless they're looked into how can we reform the system that played into Jones' hands? All books on Jonestown are painful to read, but this one strikes at the root of the whole agony with pointed and disturbing questions.

October 18, 1998, Brasscheck (formerly E-Media) ABC and Jonestown, by Ken McCarthy,

I just finished watching ABC's one hour special on Jonestown (one month before the 20th anniversary.) ABC spent a small fortune on it.

Maybe you saw it too.

The theme: Jim Jones' sons remember their father. "The sons of Jim Jones come face to face with the demons of their past." (No, I'm not kidding.)

What you don't know is that Kenneth Wooden, former Chicago Sun Times writer and author of "Children of Jonestown" and Nathan Landau author of "Heavenly Deceptor" spent HOURS with the producer, as did I, informing her that Jonestown had its roots in the corrupt political culture of San Francisco.

As unbelievable as this may seem to people who don't know the facts, Jones was an absolutely mainstream figure in San Francisco politics who received outspoken support from the Chronicle, the Examiner, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Willie Brown Jr., Art Agnos, the then Chief of Police, the District Attorney - you name it, they were behind him.

In fact, anyone who opposed Jones in San Francisco during the 1970s was threatened with violence by the "church" - which in San Francisco was already an armed camp - and socially and politically ostracized.


Jones' "ministry" made a lot of money and he distributed it widely. He also contributed the services of his flock to any politician who asked for them.

Willie Brown served as a broker for these services and was responsible for Jones' appointment to the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission, a position Jones used to attract members. (This went on at the very same time official San Francisco was destroying housing in the Western Addition neighborhood and displacing hundreds of low and moderate income blacks and their businesses, all with the cooperation of Assemblyman Willie Brown.)

ABC's question: "How did one deranged man get so much power?" Their answer: "His charisma."

"Sometimes the greatest tragedies begin with just one incident."

Yeah, right.

Jones' psychosis was well known in SF. He was involved in the torture and sexual abuse of children and others. He was involved in all kinds of financial frauds including stealing social security and other government support checks from his members, the elderly, the disabled, and the young. The church would cash members' checks and these members "under the church's care" would get to sleep ten to a room, work day and night, and live on peanut butter sandwiches and the like seven days a week in exchange.

And no one in SF touched Jones. In fact, official San Francisco bent over backwards to protect him. He did eventually leave town, but only when outsiders, New West Magazine published in New York, came in and finally blew the whistle.

How did Jones and company get away scott free with hundreds of blatant criminal acts in San Francisco?

He produced money and votes. That was good enough for the likes of Willie Brown, George Moscone, Art Agnos, and others who supported him.

The ABC producer of tonight's special was briefed on all of this - it's matter of public record, not opinion - and said that the SF part of the story, long untold, was going to be featured.

It wasn't.

What happened?

I was told by author Nathan Landau that he was told that "pressure" was put on ABC management not to get into the San Francisco story and, in their typically craven way, ABC news changed their angle and delivered this evening's "bubble gum" version.

Now you know what millions of people were actively prevented from learning tonight. This was ABC's conclusion at the end of their bizarre "trip down memory lane": "We should remember and learn from the terrible loss."

I agree.

At least 287 of the people who were murdered in Guyana were children and San Francisco's "politics as usual" made it all possible. The people who warned about Jones were ignored and marginalized by official San Francisco. Twenty years later, nothing has changed here. In fact, many of the very same people involved in making the Jonestown Massacre possible are still in power.

Ken McCarthy
Brasscheck (formerly E-Media)

E-Media was a San Francisco-based Internet consulting company established in 1993. It sponsored the first conference devoted exclusively to the subject of commercial uses of the World Wide Web and produced the first book published in Japan on the same topic.

In response to widespread concerns about fraud and an accompanying cover up in a 1997 San Francisco election, it produced

Another project, documents a pattern of premeditated violence by the SFPD against political opponents of Willie Brown which appears to be ordered and coordinated by the Chief of Police and his senior staff.

Brasscheck has also volunteered its services to produce a web site for Chinese prisoner of conscience Wei Jingsheng and is the sponsor of the official George Seldes Online Archive.

For information about another "mass suicide" that ABC and the rest of the US news media either bungled or deliberately distorted, see Brasscheck's report on Heaven's Gate. Like Jonestown, it was the one of the most covered stories of its time (ex. on the cover of Newsweek two weeks in a row), yet the reporting was so inaccurate and lacking in basic common sense as to defy belief.

How Downtown Killed the Black Fillmore

From THE CONTESTED CITY by John H. Mollenkopf (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983)

After World War II, the Western Addition had a thriving black commercial life. Its main commericial artery, Fillmore Street, featured every manner of convenience, including nightclubs like the Cafe Society, Esther's Breakfast Club, Jimbo's Bop City, and the Both/And. Vernon Thornton owned a popular bowling alley on Fillmore. As renewal began execution, according to Thornton, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA) held off purchasing his thriving business, even though it was located in the area to be demolished for a new shopping center-style development. Instead the SFRA demolished much of the surrounding housing, displacing Thornton's clientele and driving him out of business. Only then did the Agency take his property, offering him a fraction of what it had once been worth.

The SFRA demonstrated a coldly calculated business sense in driving down commercial property values. The approach reduced acquisition costs and made business owners amernable to whatever the Agency was likely to offer. But it also deprived small businessmen of a lifetime's work and destroyed the commercial center which gave the Fillmore its identity. By 1969, the Fillmore was indeed like a barren field. . . (pp. 182-183)

The SFRA demolished several thousand units, reducing the total number of housing units from 12,334 in 1960 to 10, 306 in 1970. In the process, the SFRA displaced 3,155 families and 3,984 single persons. . .leaving the neighborhood with less than half the units it had in 1950, before the renewal began. (p. 201)

As one real estate speculator in the Western Addition commented, "Before 1977, you could pick up anything, kick out the blacks and put in gays, unload it in three months, and make $30,000. What do you think 'good tenants' means in the multiple listings book? It means the dirty work has been done." - San Francisco Chronicle - September 1, 1979, p. 4 (p. 201)

Seven empty, sandy blocks in the Western Addition's center have also lain bare for almost a decade since the neighborhood's Fillmore strip, containing Vernon Thornton's bowling alley, was bulldozed...

pp. 209-210 Back to the Fillmore

January 28, 1998, San Francisco Chronicle, page A-1, Flareup With Racial Tone During, by Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- A hearing into allegations of fraud in last June's 49ers election ended up yesterday in a rare public display of racial tensions between members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The two-hour Rules Committee hearing was called by Supervisor Leland Yee and focused on early voting during the weekend before the election that took place only in Hungers Point at four public housing developments.

The long-scheduled hearing happened to occur just one day after Secretary of State Bill Jones released a report that criticized the city's election procedures but said there was no evidence of vote fraud.

By the time the hearing neared its end, Supervisor Amos Brown, the board's only African American, was seething because he felt Yee should have supported rather than questioned an effort to increase voter turnout in the black community.

``I find it unfortunate that I have supported measures for inclusion of your community,'' Brown said to Yee, a Chinese American. ``And all this measure (the early voting) has been about is the same thing.

"It is very apparent you made this an issue and brought up an issue between our communities,'' he said.

Yee denied the charge, saying, "This was never an issue about African Americans and Asian Americans."

But he quickly added that he still questioned the early voting, in which only 89 people turned out on the weekend before the hotly disputed election.

"I look at the Chinatown community and I wonder why those (housing) projects were not included," he said.

"To suggest that only certain developments should benefit from early voting, that's not how you bring people together," Yee said as committee chairman Tom Ammiano moved hurriedly to adjourn the hearing.

Before the exchange of words, the committee heard District Attorney Terence Hallinan say that his investigation of the early voting had not found any criminal activity.

"In our opinion, there was nothing illegal" in setting up polling places at the four housing complexes in Hunters Point, even though they violated guidelines from Jones' office.

Opponents of Propositions D and F, the twin measures that gave the 49ers and their partners the right to proceed with their $525 million stadium-mall complex, have made the early voting a key part of their lawsuit seeking to have the election invalidated. They also contend that city officials continue to cover up information about the early voting.

Even though only 89 people voted in the polling places set up early at the San Francisco Housing Authority's "Big Four" complexes, the opponents say the early voting was part of a pattern of abuse. Both measures won by about 1,500 votes.

But Hallinan said the only issue that remained for his office to investigate was whether public money was improperly spent on setting up the voting at the Potrero Terrace, Hunters View, Sunnydale and Alice Griffith housing areas.

The supervisors also heard from Ronnie Davis, the Housing Authority's executive director. He said it was his decision to spend $2,000 of tenants association funds on the early voting, "rather than on Halloween parties or turkeys."

Davis also denied that he and former elections director Germaine Wong set up the four special precincts in response to pressure from Mayor Willie Brown's staff.

"My decision had nothing to do with Propositions D and F, as I had no interest in the outcome of these issues in the election,'' Davis said.

Rather, he said, he continued the practice of setting up early voting at housing authority precincts, dating from 1991, to boost woefully low turnout.

He said federal funds can be used for voter registration activities, but that he decided not to seek any more early voting at housing sites until the controversy over June's election is settled.

Yee said he still had questions about whether Davis had the right to spend the tenants association funds, and that brought another rejoinder from Brown. "I don't see any tenants here complaining today," he said.