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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.

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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.
 
bbegin@sfexaminer.com



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