The Fresno Four Affair

In 1976 four reporters from the Fresno Bee newspaper were jailed for their refusal to divulge the name of a source for a public corruption article that revealed the deliberations of a Grand Jury hearing. The four men were placed in a minimum security jail for 15 days while media around the country decried the attack on the freedom of the press and the first amendment of the US Constitution.

While the four were imprisoned Jim Jones led over 1,000 members of Peoples Temple in protest of the attack on the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. After the reporters were released, Peoples Temple continued the effort to promote these values by donating to institutions, politicians, and newspapers that they believed also supported their principles. Peoples Temple had financially supported the freedom of the press as early as 1973.

The following transcribed and annotated newspaper articles are preserved in the FBI collection in file 89-4286-Bulky I. Note that these files were not meticulously labelled as individual items like most of the RYMUR files.

“A Church Gives $4400 To the Press.” San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 1973. Transcription  || PDF || Annotation

“Church donation aids fight for press freedom.” Inter American Press Association no. 215, Feb.-Mar. 1973. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Ray Steele Jr. “Peoples Temple: Service to Fellow Man.” The Fresno Bee, September 19, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Kathy Hunter. “Testimonial honors Fresno Four.” Ukiah Daily Journal, September 27, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

“Thousands Pay Tribute to Jim Jones’ Ministry.” Ukiah Daily Journal, September 27, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

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

Wallace Turner. “Jailing of Newsmen Protested on Coast: 10 Busloads of Church Members from San Francisco Picket Courthouse in Fresno.” The New York Times, September 11, 1976. Transcription || PDF || Annotation

Additional Sources

Rory Appleton. “Forty Years Later, The Bee Four’s Legacy Lives On.The Fresno Bee, September 3, 2016.