Edith Roller – May 13, 1978 – Saturday

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Today was Jim’s birthday. Steering committee had made plans for work crews to put in an extra half day’s work as a tribute to him and for Mother’s Day. I had planned to work on resumes as I would be undisturbed in the cottage.

Had breakfast.

Worked on my journal.

Went to lunch and noticed there were a larger number of people than usual. I had not heard any announcement but Mary Ann Casanova told me all the field workers had been told to come in for lunch, which she said was a signal that there would be an alert. I discussed this with Rita who didn’t confirm it, but other people thought this was the case.

Thought I might have time to do my laundry so I started it and had to stop before I rinsed when the alert came about 2.00.

I changed clothes and took with me a water bottle, pillow, socks, and a bread and butter sandwich I had found.

People gathered into the pavilion.  Attendance was checked. We had a long wait for Jim who was conferring with his staff. I was sitting beside Patty Parks and her little daughter who were having their first experience of a White Night.

When Jim did arrive, he said one of our people (name and sex not indicated) from Georgetown had defected, though the Temple had his passport he had gone to the Embassy for another, stolen some official Temple money to which he had access. He said he was going either to the US or Soviet Russia. His problem was sex and an impatience with our strict regulations (apparently regarded as an interference with his civil liberties). A long time member, he knew a great deal about our financial resources and security arrangements and could do more harm than Tim Stoen. Some radio codes were known to him. Though his intentions are not clear, he will inevitably be debriefed when he goes through customs. He will probably establish contact with Stoen. He has relatives in Jonestown and in and out of the Temple in the US.

Jim said we take for granted an attack could be launched on us at once. I gathered we had plans to move in on our enemies which the defector could reveal and in the discussion Jim confirmed this. Our radio communications were being interfered with and there may have been no way to conceal the present instructions.

Long discussions on the microphone followed. Jim proposed revolutionary suicide as the only acceptable answer. Some attention was given to putting our people on the boat we are purchasing and trying to go to Cuba but there are a number of obstacles and most do not want to go anyway. There was no enthusiasm for appealing to Soviet Russia. Our brand of communism is too advanced for either of these countries and we almost certainly could not continue as a group under the leadership of Jim Jones. The Guyanese government is turning to the right. The trend is toward passage of the proposed referendum which would result in continued rule by the PNC. A socialist democracy will likely be established and with pressure from Guyana and the US this will be all we can expect in Jonestown, a rejection of the pure communism we now enforce.

Statements on tape were made so as to attempt to reach the world’s press as to the reasons we resorted to revolutionary suicide. I participated in this because I intended to assent to whatever decision was made, and I felt it important to encourage other anti-fascists throughout the world, although I did not approve of the action.

Dinner was served to us.

There was continued discussion and votes were taken. At all times those in favor of revolutionary suicide were in the majority, however I felt that these were strongly influenced by his advocacy.  Few young people expressed any opinion. The number of those opposed grew as thoughtful statements were made, one by Jann Gurvich was outstanding. I mentioned the world situation which seemed to be turning in favor of liberation movements against the US and might result in war, which could be helpful to us.

Heavy rain came and it was hard to hear. Jim had us rest for a while but I couldn’t go to sleep sitting up.

When we resumed, opposition to the proposed suicide declined, those in favor of carrying it out tonight seemed more determined. I became convinced by the tired eyes of Sharon Amos that I would be wrong to persist. Jim said he alone would commit suicide.

There were only a few score opposed when the question of what to do about our members in Georgetown (a large number have just arrived) down the river and in San Francisco was brought up. As for San Francisco, all were adults and would know what to do. It was at last decided to delay until others outside could be brought in. At first it seemed to be decided that our guests would be sent out earlier then planned while we would be under tight security.

I went home and to bed about 6.00. We were to get up at 12.00.