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Jonestown massacre memorial still generating controversy

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A lot of painful Bay Area memories are being dredged up this week. First, some are calling for the release of three men who buried a busload of kids 35 years ago in a Livermore cave. Now, it’s a planned memorial for the Jonestown massacre that’s attracting controversy.

“On Nov. 18, 1978, the world as we knew it was changed forever. 918 victims, of whom 305 were children — including 40 infants — lost their lives along with U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan and a United Press International film crew,” reads a press release. “The place was Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana — that Paradise of Pain founded and led by James Warren ‘Jim’ Jones, forever rendered infamous by its name ‘Jonestown.’”

A host of local reverends, activists and survivors will hold a press conference Monday to support a memorial wall in Oakland’s Evergreen Cemetery. The memorial has hit several snags, including opposition from Jones’ son, who wants Jones’ name on the memorial wall.

That group says putting Jones name on a memorial would “desecrate the children’s gravesite by putting a heinous murderous name on the memorial of their sacred resting place.”

It bears mentioning, however, that pretty much every San Francisco politician in the late 1970s, especially then-Assemblyman Willie Brown, supported the message of unity and diversity that People’s Temple brought to The City.

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