|“||I tell you, I don't care how many screams you hear, I don't care how many anguished cries...death is a million times preferable to 10 more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you – if you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight.||„|
|~ Jim Jones|
James Warren "Jim" Jones (May 13th, 1931 - November 18th, 1978) was the founder of the People's Temple, which was a socialist/communist group. He created a communist sanctuary in Guyana called Jonestown. He is responsible for the deaths of 909 people, 304 of them children, by persuading them to drink Flavor-Aid laced with cyanide, tranquilizers, and other sedatives.
Jim Jones' cult was also infamous for gunning down US Congressman Leo Ryan, who was investigating the strange events and alleged human rights abuses that were going on in the community prior to the ultimate mass-suicide.
Jim Jones was found dead alongside his followers from a self-inflicted gunshot wound yet would be remembered as the mastermind of the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until the attacks of September 11th occurred.
Reason for the mass suicide
On the tape recovered from Jonestown by the FBI, Jones tells Temple members that the Soviet Union, with whom the Temple had been negotiating a potential exodus for months, would not take them after the airstrip murders. The reason given by Jones to commit suicide was consistent with his previously stated conspiracy theories of intelligence organizations allegedly conspiring against the Temple, that men would "parachute in here on us", "shoot some of our innocent babies" and "they'll torture our children, they'll torture some of our people here, they'll torture our seniors". Parroting Jones' prior statements that hostile forces would convert captured children to fascism, one Temple member states "the ones that they take captured, they're gonna just let them grow up and be dummies".
With that reasoning, Jones and several members argued that the group should commit "revolutionary suicide" by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. Later-released Temple films show Jones opening a storage container full of Kool Aid in large quantities. However, empty packets of grape Flavor Aid found on the scene show that this is what was used to mix the solution, along with a sedative. One member, Christine Miller, dissents toward the beginning of the tape.
- Jones' father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
- He once described himself as "a combination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Albert Einstein, and Mao Zedong." He also began preaching that he was the reincarnation of Gandhi, Father Divine, Jesus, Gautama Buddha, and Vladimir Lenin.
- Jones and his wife adopted several non-white children; he referred to the household as his "rainbow family", and stated: "Integration is a more personal thing with me now. It's a question of my son's future." He also portrayed the Temple as a "rainbow family".
- While Jones banned sex among Temple members outside marriage, he voraciously engaged in sexual relations with both male and female Temple members. Jones, however, claimed that he detested engaging in homosexual activity and did so only for the male temple adherents' own good, purportedly to connect them symbolically with him (Jones).
- He idolized Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong.
- In a 1976 phone conversation with John Maher, Jones alternately stated that he was an agnostic and an atheist, what was a bit ironic considering he was a pastor.
- His rants about communism led to increased tensions with the Nation of Islam, so Jones spoke at a huge rally in hopes of closing the rift between the two groups in the Los Angeles Convention Center that was attended by many of his closest political acquaintances.
- Among the victims of the mass suicide at Jonestown were Jones' wife and four of his children.
- The entire family of a Los Angeles man named Tyrone Mitchell also died in the mass suicide at Jonestown. This ultimately drove Mitchell insane and caused him to commit a mass shooting at 49th Street Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles on February 24, 1984, killing two students and injuring twelve others before committing suicide.