|Famed social activist Dick Gregory protesting the Jim Jones Memorial Wall|
arranged by cult apologists at Evergreen Cemetary
Gregory is one of the many outraged by the inclusion of mass murderer Jim Jones on a memorial wall for those he and his executioners so brutally murdered. His interview, like all his appearances, will prove enthralling.
There's so much misunderstanding about what drove so many people into the arms of this demon and his murderous thugs. One of those who was able to defect--but inexplicably appeared at the May "dediciation" to this atrocious wall--was former member Garrett Lambrev. One can only guess that Lambrev still has some of the brainwash not washed out of him, judging from his appearance at this cult apologist monstrosity.
But his words in this 2008 Cleveland Plain Dealer interview speak volumes about how bad the cult was BEFORE it even arrived in Jonestown and reveals how hard, and dangerous, it can be to break a cult's stranglehold.
Convinced Jim Jones was God, Garrett Lambrev was the first person to join Peoples Temple in Ukiah, Calif., in 1966 after the group moved from Indiana. Ten years later -- two years before the Jonestown tragedy -- he was part of a wave of defectors, shaken to the core by tales of torture and wanting nothing to do with a god who could sanction such things. He was reviled as a traitor and lived in fear for his life.
Back in 1966, Lambrev was a young grad student, searching for truth, for peace, for a new world. After his involvement in anti-Vietnam war protests that landed him in jail, he dropped out of a doctoral program in history at Stanford University and moved to Ukiah for a job as a welfare worker. When he met Jim Jones, who was teaching at a local school, he thought he had found the realization of all his dreams.
"I was utterly transfixed by him," Lambrev said. "He could talk for 14 hours, and I'd be fascinated. I'd never met anyone so intelligent, so cognizant of the human puzzle."
Even then, Lambrev took note of Jones' disturbing behavior. Lambrev had been in the temple only about two months, and he was listening one evening to Jones expound on environmentalism. "He was praising things the Soviets were doing to protect wildlife in the Soviet arctic. And I thought, 'What!' I spoke up, and I said, 'Jim, what about the Gulag? What about the labor camps?'
"He turned red and glared at me, and said, 'Who do you think you are? You're speaking to the Almighty God,' and he pounded his fist. I felt so humiliated. I wanted to be under the floor. But I thought, 'He's God. I'm not.' So I went along with that for years. I questioned myself, rather than him."
During the years, Lambrev was what he calls a "black sheep" in the Peoples Temple family. He'd had trouble dealing with the discipline, and had left previously -- five times, in fact. But he returned five times.
|Garrett Lambrev, Peoples Temple Cult Defector|
"Inevitably, every time I left, I would fall apart and turn back. The center of life was Jim Jones. He was the access to the divine. For years, I was very much a prisoner of that reality. Nothing could break that until the revelations about the torture."
'Garry, there was torture. Physical torture.'
It was August of 1976, and Lambrev had no plans to leave. He felt very good about his place in the Temple and what he was doing. But there was a friend and fellow member who was upset, and he feared she might kill herself, so he reached out to her. They met outside the Temple, at a pizza parlor at midnight.
"She told me, 'You don't know anything. You haven't seen what I saw,'" Lambrev said, dropping his voice. "She told me, 'Garry, there was torture. Physical torture.'
"I could find nothing to justify that," he said. "I was very, very angry. Enormously disappointed and shaken. I thought, if this guy is God, I want no part of his religion. So I left that night."
|"Dad" Jones, the mass murder memorialized|
Lambrev went to a hiding place where another friend was staying. For a while, he worked with a defectors' group in Berkeley, called Concerned Relatives. Then, finally, he felt he must distance himself completely from anyone connected with the Temple, moving to the woods of Oregon.
He was there when the tragedy in Jonestown happened.
"Like so many people, I didn't know what to make of it, whether this was done by a hit squad, if I was on the hit list, or if friends of mine were in danger," he said.
"I think we all knew Jim Jones was responsible for the deaths of about 1,000 people in Jonestown. There were others involved who carried it out. We'll never know who and how many committed suicide or who and how many were murdered. But the decision to carry that out was Jim's."
Questions about what happened haunt him
Questions about what happened still haunt Lambrev, however. In the years before and after Jonestown, there were some mysterious deaths, including the still-unsolved 1980 murders of Al and Jeannie Mills in Berkeley, who had started Concerned Relatives.
"My ambition in this life is to know what really happened," Lambrev said.
A good start, Garrett. Unfortunately, kowtowing with those reprehensible revisionist/cult apologists (Becky Moore, Mac McGehee, Jimmy Jones, Jr, et al) is not a very positive beginning.