Wednesday, May 15, 2013
November 30, 1978, Florence Times Daily - UPI, Seven Elderly Survivors Still Fear For Their Lives,
December 1, 1978, Plattsburgh Press-Republican - UPI, page 15, 76-year-old cultist slept through ordeal,
LOS ANGELES (UPI) — Hyacinth Thrush, 76, who followed the Rev. Jim Jones for 21 years but survived his death ceremony in Guyana because she was sleeping, had little to say early Thursday when she arrived home.
Mrs. Thrash, one of seven survivors of the Peoples Temple cult flown back to their families on the West Coast, didn't want to talk about her life within the cult or her escape from death.
"I don't feel like talking," the small, frail woman, sitting in a wheelchair, explained as she was helped off a TWA plane.
"I don't feel too good. I've been sick all the way."
Several family members met Mrs. Thrush and the other survivors, all of them elderly and most of them blacks, following their flights from New York.
They shreiked relieved welcomes as five of the survivors arrived at Los Angeles Airport, but most of them were reluctant to speak with strangers, in part because of fear of vengeance by alleged People's Temple hit squads.
When one reporter asked Mrs. Thrash's niece, Mary Watkins, how old she was, she snapped:
''Old enough to know better than to go to Guyana."
Harold Crimmon said his aunt was sleeping when the Jonestown ritual murder-suicides began and did not wake up until the next morning.
December 1, 1978, UPI- The Daily Collegian, page 13, Suicide survivors meet families,
LOS ANGELES (UPI) — Hyacinth Thrash, 76, who followed the Rev. Jim Jones for 21 years but survived his death ceremony in Guyana because she was sleeping, had little to say early yesterday when she arrived home.
Thrash, one of seven Peoples Temple cult survivors flown back to their families on the West Coast, did not want to talk about her life within the cult or her escape from death.
"I don't feel like talking," the small, frail woman, sitting in a wheelchair, explained as she was helped off a TWA plane.
"I don't feel too good. I've been sick all the way."
Several family members met Thrash and the other survivors, all of them elderly and most of them black, following their flights from New York.
They shreiked relieved welcomes as five of the survivors arrived at Los Angeles Airport, but most of them were reluctant to speak with strangers — in part because of fear of vengeance by alleged Peoples Temple hit squads.
When one reporter asked Thrash's niece, Mary Watkins, how old she was, she snapped:
"Old enough to know better than to go to Guyana."
Harold Crimmon, 47, said his aunt was sleeping when the Jonestown ritual murder-suicides began and did not wake up until the next morning.
"She slept through the entire ordeal," he said. "She woke up Sunday morning and went looking for her sister. Then she went outside and saw some people sitting up and some laying down. She thought they were sleeping.
"She spent two days trying to wake up her sister."
Thrash was one of Jones' first followers, joining up in Indianapolis in the 1950s. During the years when the Peoples Temple held services in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, they said, she often commuted more than 800 miles a week to attend as many as possible.
Joe McGowan, 54, of Pasadena, Calif., waiting in Los Angeles for his sister, Alvery Faterwaite, 61, said there were 29 people from his family at the Jonestown commune.
He said the 28 others — nieces, nephews, aunts and cousins — all are dead.
The other survivors arriving in Los Angeles were Carol Young, 78, Marion Campbell, 61, and Ray Godshalk, 62.
In San Francisco, Grover Davis, 79, and Madeline Brooks, 70, were silent as they got off the plane and were ushered past reporters by sheriff's deputies.
Officers scuffled briefly with a television cameraman and one deputy shouted, "Why don't you leave these people alone! They've been through hell!"
Brooks drove off with friends. Davis, who hid when the other cult members started drinking the cyanide-lace fruit drink as Jones had ordered, left the airport in a squad car.
December 1, 1978, Plattsburgh Press-Republican - UPI, page 15, America’s wrath blamed for killings, by Kitty Bowe, Ottaway News Service,
Plea falls on deaf ears
In this exclusive photo copyrighted by the Chicago Tribune and taken by Jonestown camp photographer Don Jackson, Rep. Leo Ryan pleads with cultist Brian Bouquette, right, to see his mother. His reply: "I only want to see her through the sights of a rifle." Both men died within two days. (UPI)
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The more than 900 victims of mass suicide in Guyana were persuaded they had sinned against the capitalistic system and would never be forgiven in America, an English writer who is an authority on suicide believes.
Al Alvarez of London, author of "The Savage God," which details the suicide of an artist friend, and his own suicide attempt, believes the Rev. Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple cult, convinced his followers that they faced possible jail or torture if they were returned to this country.
Judging by letters to Jones from a number of followers published this week, Alvarez believes many of the cult members had the kind of personalities which yearned for authority. He compared the wording of some of the letters to confessions and self-analysis common in Red China during the brainwashing of the Cultural Revolution.
The letters had in common their writers' "terrible willingness to abase themselves to their leaders" and to die rather than provoke the wrath of the people who controlled them, he said.
Alvarez spent a day this week at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, lecturing to the faculty and students.
He noted that people in vast sections of the world are dominated by their leaders and have only a marginal degree of freedom. Many of these people could not handle the kind of freedom that is common in the United States and Europe, he said.
"Democracy is a colossal responsibility," Alvarez points out. It is hard to be responsible for your own life, and a large section of the world has ducked this."
Noting that the United States is especially prone to sects and cults, the author says this is because "America has always represented freedom." He says the Pilgrims, in a sense, were a "small, passionate, exclusive religious sects. And the Constitution was designed to protect them."
Even in this country there are relatively simple-minded people who are drawn to the kind of authority found in cults- and religious groups that foretell the second coming of Christ, he said.
As he understands the situation leading to their deaths, Alvarez thinks cult members routinely rehearsed what to do if they faced torture for the sake of their cause. According to media reports of activities prior to the tragedy, suicide rehearsals had been common in the camp.
The mass suicide followed the murders by several cult members of Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Cal.) and newsmen who had investigated rumors of people being detained at the camp against their will. This action apparently triggered the mass suicide, since public reaction would have threatened the camp lifestyle.
Alvarez characterized Jones as "like a large number of leaders, political and religious: very, very paranoid," but also possessing a magnetic charisma. "A paranoid is someone who has a totally self-contained delusion," he explains. "People get sucked into such systems like black holes."
The poet, novelist and literary critic further described paranoia as being contagious, "an infectious disease like chicken pox." He believes some people are unusually open to that kind of infection.
Alvarez recalled other instances of mass suicide, such as that during classical times at Massada, where a Jewish group chose suicide rather than capture by the Romans.
He also described the self-hanging of a boatload of slaves to escape the brutality of their masters during the Spanish colonization of America, and an instance in Haiti where hundreds jumped off cliffs because of Spanish cruelty.
Referring to the motive the leader can have to found a sect, Alvarez said, "now there's money in it, so the Elmer Gantrys of this world thrive."
He was referring to a novel by Sinclair Lewis about a phony evangelist who became rich.
A great deal of money was found at the Jonestown camp, including Social Security checks that the cultists gave to their leader.
December 1, 1978, The Daily Collegian - UPI, page 13, San Francisco mayor laid to rest as city mourns,
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — With family and friends grieving the loss, a city weary of death by violence yesterday buried Mayor George Moscone, who was shot and killed along with another elected official in City Hall.
At an emotional funeral mass, one of his daughters trying to lead the mourners in prayer was overcome and had to be helped from the altar.
The body of Moscone was entombed in a private ceremony at a mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in suburban Colma.
The popular Moscone was eulogized as a man who had a "passion for compassion" at the Roman Catholic service in St. Mary's Cathedral where his four children led the congregation in prayer.
Rebecca Moscone, 18, broke down in sobs and had to be led away during her turn before the 10,000 mourners, some overflowing out the doors where loudspeakers broadcast the proceedings.
Moscone, 49, and Supervisor Harvey Milk, 48, one of the few avowed homosexuals in the nation to win a major public office, were slain in separate offices Monday, allegedly by former supervisor Dan White. The 32-year-old former policeman, charged with murder, has confessed to the crime, according to newspaper accounts.
The Oakland Tribune quoted White as saying shortly after the killings, "I must have done it" and that he "didn't intend to kill George or anybody else."
Jailers said White laid on his bunk and read in his cell at the City Prison during the funeral.
The deaths of Moscone and Milk hit a city already stunned by the suicide-murders nine days earlier of more than 900 people, many of them San Franciscans, at the Peoples Temple religious cult settlement in the jungles of Guyana.
Msgr. Peter Armstrong, rector of St. Vincent De Paul Boy's School in nearby San Rafael and a longtime family friend, while eulogizing Moscone said San Francisco has "survived many crises — the (1906) earthquake, wars, the depression, campus riots. And, strengthened by faith, courage and unity, we will survive this latest tragedy — the loss of the father of our city."
"For all of us who knew him, we can honestly say that he had a passion for compassion," Armstrong said.
The priest said Moscone told him 40 years ago he wanted to be his native San Francisco's mayor and even as Democratic majority leader in the state Senate with support to seek higher office, all he wanted to be was mayor.
"I love this city with my whole heart," Armstrong quoted Moscone as saying. "... After seeking the happiness and security of my family, my greatest goal would be to be mayor of my beloved city."
Moscone's body, after lying in state Wednesday at City Hall along with Milk's, was borne to the center of the large, futuristic cathedral accompanied by a six-man military and police honor guard. The casket lay draped in white and gold.
December 1, 1978, The Daily Collegian - UPI, page 12, Ray family accused of conspiracy,
WASHINGTON (UPI) The House Assassinations Committee Wednesday told a brother of James Earl Ray it had incriminating information linking him with an alleged family conspiracy to finance the stalking and killing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Jerry Ray, brother of James who pleaded guilty to shooting King, denied any knowledge of a $27,000 bank robbery the committee suspects might have financed the assassination. He also denied a third brother, John, took part.
Committee staff counsel Mark Speiser said panel investigators have received "information of an incriminatory nature" that Jerry Ray participated in the July 13, 1967 robbery of an Alton, Ill. bank, presumably to provide funds for James Earl Ray to pursue and kill King and flee to Canada and Europe.
Jerry Ray tried in vain to invoke the Fifth Amendment, despite a grant of immunity from prosecution, and his attorneys attempted unsuccessfully to have "speculative" remarks based on "circumstantial evidence" by committee counsel stricken from the record.
The committee has been trying to establish whether James Earl Ray was assisted by his brothers in a plot to kill King and collect a $50,000 bounty allegedly offered by St. Louis businessmen.
Jerry Ray's counsel Florynce Kennedy, a black lawyer, repeatedly protested that neither local nor federal authorities were able to establish responsibility for the Alton bank robbery.
Speiser: "Did you partake in that robbery?"
Ray: "I definitely did not."
Speiser: Did John or James Earl Ray take part?
Ray: "No way. I wouldn't know. I was working."
Ray told the committee he is now working for J.B. Stoner, the Atlanta white supremacist who is chairman of the National States Rights party. He said no one else will hire him in view of constant "FBI harassment."
Asked about statements he allegedly made to writer Arthur George McMillan concerning James Earl Ray's escape from the Missouri State Penitentiary on April 23, 1967, Jerry Ray said he could not "remember all this stuff."
"I don't remember saying that," Jerry Ray said, referring to a comment he allegedly made about his brother John helping James Earl escape from prison.
Jerry Ray described McMillan as a "leech" who hounded him for information after James Earl Ray was arrested in June 1968 and charged with the shooting of King, April 4,1968 in Memphis, Tenn.
"His book was joke," said
As the hearing opened, chief committee counsel G. Robert Blakey said the panel "is about to try to settle once and for all the crucial issue of a conspiracy."
Referring to the mysterious "Raoul" whom James Earl Ray has identified as his contact in the murder case, Blakey said, "When you come down to it, the Raoul theory that seems to fit is that the mysterious accomplice might actually be one of Ray's brothers, Jerry or John, or a composite of the two of them."
Blakey said there was evidence, some admittedly circumstantial, that Jerry or John Ray met with James at various places in the United States from the time James escaped from the Missouri State prison until King's assassination.
December 1, 1978, UPI- The Daily Collegian, page 2, Religion saves despite cults' sins, by Gina Carroll,
The Guyana jokes are starting to fly, and I'm glad. This doesn't mean I like to pick upon others' sadness for my kicks. Rather, it is out of a sense of relief that I hear these jokes, even if they are in bad taste. To me they indicate a lessening of the tensions built up over the Jonestown incident, and more importantly, a decline of the righteous feeling abolition of such sects would bring.
I will not pretend to understand how hundreds' of people could drink , and drink knowingly, cyanide. Nor can I understand the power a seemingly unassuming man had over the masses who died. The majority of the nation and the world appears as dense as I feel. But our lack of understanding should not hinder the basic concept of religious freedom — a concept on which, in part, this country was founded.
Whether the Jonestown population was incredibly doped up, as some believe, or perfectly sane people there of their own free will is a question that will be hotly debated for years to come in papers yet unpublished. To decide on this issue is an awesome proposition. But to use this one instance as the beginning of an erasure mark on religious freedom is a too easy decision — and a wrong one.
Perhaps the easiest way to defend my position is to say that I don't want to go back to the era of the fundamentalists. I rather like the mood of relaxation that has come over my religion and its practices of late, and I don t want to go back to the stringency of rules in its past. Nor do I want to go way back in time to the era of the Druids and their rites.
Granted, it is a selfish reason, but I believe religion should be a selfish decision. But there are other reasons why religious freedom should not be curtailed.
It has been an enriching factor in lifestyles. Without the meditative practices of the early Quakers and the eastern religions, transcendental meditation and other branches of the same kind may not have reached the fever pitch they did in the late '60s and early '70s, or become the stabilizing influence it is in many peoples' lives.
This freedom has also helped, as mushy as it may sound, thousands of people find their niche in life. The
supposed misfits of centuries ago helped found one of the world's most highly populated religions — Christianity, and its main branch, Catholicism.
Perhaps thinking religion will revert to its most primitive standards is being pessimistic, but it is brought on by a fear, generated by two things, the movement of the pendulum and the phrase that "history repeats itself."
Inevitably a supposed laxness in our society will be met with an answering strictness, somewhat like an echoing cry. This is to the good in some cases, and I will not contest that fact. Often this very laxity, when uncovered, makes good copy for journalists. But extremes are not often good in large quantities, and swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction often serves' only to dismantle the good that might have been
As for history repeating itself, that scares me too. People in this era tend to make things easier for themselves if they can. I do not want to go back to the days when I would be forced to follow the Church's dogma and have no recourse to instituting modifications of my own to make religion more meaningful to me.
There will be those, of course, who will call me a heretic. They will point to Jonestown and Jim Jones and say these events will only repeat themselves if strong and emphatic action is not taken now to more closely regulate organizations that deviate from the norm.
And my only answer will be, "Did you hear the one about.. .?"
Gina Carroll is a ninth-term journalism major and is features editor of The Daily Collegian.