Friday, January 4, 2008
Division And Controversy Roils Construction of Jonestown Memorial Wall
Dr. Jynona Norwood with son, the Rev. Ed Norwood, at Jonestown Memorial Service, Evergreen Cemetery, where controversial wall is planned.
Before sharing the inside story of a People's Temple child who would lose his mother to the cult in California--long before the cyanide mass murder in Guyana--I'd like to share this most recent message from Lela Howard, subject of the last posting.
She first asked me some direct questions, and then followed up with some even more pointed inquiry and outright criticism of the current status quo of the memorial wall project. First, her questions to me:
Q: "Are you concerned with the victims and how their families feel about Peoples Temple, the media's spin on the tragedy and how we (family) have been treated over the years?"
A: Quite obviously I am concerned, and that is why this blog came to be. I'm both saddened and outraged. Sad for the men, women, and children that fell victim to cult enslavement, one of those super destructive cults that resulted in mass murder. The media's "spin", as I've repeatedly said, is deceptive and deplorable. They owe you a voice, not a twisted echo.
Q: "Are you concerned about those family and survivors who are still so afraid to speak about Peoples Temple or their relatives who perished, because of the salacious, scandalous manner the media, press, etc., has made a joke out of the deaths?"
A: Any of them, from bottom feeding shock jocks like Howard Stern to glib, ignorant news reporters, who would make "fun" out of a mass murder, deserve censure. This is why it is so important to educate the public about the dynamics of how cults DESTROY independent spirit, thought, action, and defenseless children.
Q: "Are you more concerned with getting those who disassociated themselves after giving Jim Jones the power to create Jonestown, acquire the poison and allow him to rise to 'fame'? Because if so, those individuals are still around the political circuit and have not (to my knowledge) answered the tough questions. (Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they never fathomed the horrors of November 18, 1978 and probably feel loads of guilt.)"
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown reacted to the news of the mass murder of over 900 people that "he has not regrets" over his past association with Jones and the People's Temple. Brown also mentioned he would not try to dissociate himself like so many other politicians were, claiming "They all like to say, 'Forgive me, I was wrong', but that's bulls--t. It doesn't mean a thing now, it just isn't relevant."
A: Such a sizable, sleazy population of culprits, Lela. Temple Untouchables like politician Willie Brown, preacher John Moore, and Examiner editor Charles Gould played important parts in the reckless creation of the Jim Jones Frankenstein. All the cult cheer leaders still with us clearly have neither the morality or courage to publicly admit to their aiding & abetting. They refuse to apologize to you, and all the other relatives who lost their loved ones. Don't let them forget that you know they're still hiding in their vast swamp of denial.
Lela then opened up about the impending memorial wall, and some deep concerns (which today's media, surprise, surprise--has ignored.)
"A memorial wall at Oakland cemetery is great!" she wrote, "But I thought money was collected for that many years ago--what happened to those funds? It seems as if there's an unnecessary competition in regards to memorials for the victims, which takes away from the focal point of remembering them.
This makes me very sad and confused, because this separates us or leans towards a school yard 'choosing sides' type of mentality, instead of family and survivors coming together and honoring our loved ones. It's more about the living and their egos, rather than those who perished...very, very, very sad.
The latter I understand you can't answer, or maybe you can....ask around, use your platform to correct the wrong and continuous wrong doings."
The current wall project is being administered by the "Cherishing The Children/Guyana Tribute Foundation," headed by Dr. Jynona Norwood, who is CEO. Norwood, pictured at the beginning of this post, lost 27 family members in the massacre.
"Although the donations have come in slowly over the years," says Norwood on her official website, "the monies, which remain in escrow for the Cherishing the Children Healing Memorial Wall,
still continue to gain interest. Senator Dianne Feinstein appointed the late police psychologist, Dr. Chris Hatcher, to the surviving families for counseling.
Dr. Hatcher became the first signature on the memorial wall bank account, along with former Human Rights Commissioner, Rev. Eugene Lumpkin. Rev. Lumpkin was appointed by then-Mayor Frank Jordan as our liaison to San Francisco City Hall. Dr. Hatcher and Rev. Lumpkin joined me as we opened the Jonestown Memorial Wall Fund with our own money.
We have always had four signatures on our bank account. Also, it is mandatory that two signatures are required in order to remove any funds from the account. The Jonestown Memorial Wall Fund account is always available for public viewing.
We are not a part of any other groups who are collecting monies for any type of memorial in the name of the Jonestown victims.
The staff remains vigilant in their efforts to erect the wall, which will have a three-fold purpose: To honor the sanctity of the innocent lives that were lost; to raise public awareness that you never give up your ability to think for yourself; and to question everyone and everything!"