Church Members Support Newsmen – Annotation

“Defending Others’ Rights: SF Church Members Demonstrate Support for Newsmen.” The Fresno Bee, September 10, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

It is difficult to watch the quiet demonstration of support for the Bee four in Courthouse Park without having tears of emotions cloud your vision.

They walk somberly and almost silently, courteously stopping the parade from time to time to permit others to pass through their lines.

Spectacled among the 500 or so demonstrators from Peoples Temple in San Francisco are hand-carried signs with such slogans as “Free Our Newsman, Now.” Most of the demonstrators are women and the majority are black.

They are Americans demonstrating quietly their beliefs that an injustice is being done in the sentencing of the four Fresno Bee newsmen to infinite jail terms until they reveal their source of information for a series of news stories.

The strength of their beliefs is moving and impressive.  They have subjected themselves to the elements- heat Thursday and then rain Friday and Friday night – to long, tedious bust riders, to the inconvenience of the public toilet facilities, meals prepared on a bus.  They could easily have stayed home enjoying far more comforts.

They chose not so.  They chose to demonstrate in support of four newsmen none of them have ever met.  But they have a solid acquaintanceship with the principles of human rights.  One said “In the church, we learn to respect each other’s rights and to defend them if necessary.”

This is what America is all about – defending each other’s rights.  Thank you, members of Peoples Temple for showing it to others.

A typeset letter to Jones follows:

Jim Jones

Peoples Temple

Courthouse Park

Fresno, California


Dear Rev. Jones

The fours of us have been deeply touched by the remarkable empowering of good will and support shown by the members of your church the past two days.

It is heartening to know that people like you and your congregation understand the principles we are standing for and that you hold them so dearly that you will have the time and expenses to demonstrate your belief in them.

Words cannot adequately express the depth of our feelings.  To watch on television that long line of marchers and routine we were the beneficiaries of much a demonstration is something we will hold in our memories for a long time.

We thank you and may God be with you.


The Bee Four.