Willie Brown is the former progressive Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the California Assembly. Brown was an enthusiastic supporter of the Rev. Jim Jones and facilitated Jones' rise in California and the national Democratic party politics. Brown remained loyal to Jones even after the Jonestown massacre.
In an interview of Jim Jones by Willie Brown for a television show about the Peoples Temple, Brown stated "You've managed to make the many peoples associated with the Peoples Temple a part of a family. If you're in need of health care, you GET health care. If you're in need of legal assistance of some sort, you get that. If you're in need of transportation, you get that." On another occasion, Brown stated "San Francisco should have ten more Jim Joneses."
Willie Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown, George Moscone, Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally and S.F. District Attorney Joseph Freitas among others attended a large testimonial dinner in Jim Jones' honor in September 1976. Willie Brown served as master of ceremonies and introduced Jones, stating "Let me present to you what you should see every day when you look in the mirror in the early morning hours ... Let me present to you a combination of Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein ... Chairman Mao." At another testimonial dinner, Brown introduced Jones, referring to him as "a young man came upon the scene, became an inspiration for a whole lot of people. He’s done fantastic things."
Willie Brown had visited the People's Temple a dozen times, some by invitation and some on his own. Preliminary consideration was given by Governor Brown's administration to a statewide post for Jim Jones before his flight to Guyana. When investigations into the Temple's activities began, Brown said at a rally in support of Jones attended by Harvey Milk and others, "[h]e is a rare human being" and "he cares about people...Rev. Jim Jones is that person who can be helpful when all appears to be lost and hope is just about gone."
Jones procured land in Guyana where nearly 1,000 of his followers settled in Jonestown, clearing the land, planting crops, and listening to him preach the gospel according to Karl Marx. “I call capitalism the devil,” Jones said from the pulpit, “and socialism is God.” One member said the Temple moved to Jonestown because "what we saw in the United States was creeping fascism. It was apparent that corporations, or the multinationals, were getting much larger, their influence was growing within the government, and the United States is a racist place."
As reports seeped back of people who wanted to leave Guyana, Harvey Milk – the first openly gay elected official who was endorsed by the Temple for San Francisco city councilman – wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter defending Jones "as a man of the highest character," and stating that Temple defectors were trying to "damage Rev. Jones' reputation" with "apparent bold-faced lies". The Temple claimed that "reactionary forces were trying to destroy his [Jones] image because he is the most persistent fighter for social justice.
Hearing allegations of abuse, Congressman Leo J. Ryan led a fact-finding mission to Jonestown which included in his group a staff member and future congresswoman, Jackie Speier. Ryan and four others were murdered when they attempted to leave. After the killings, Jones herded his followers into the camp's main pavilion and ordered them all to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. 909 bodies mostly Black, including 304 children, were found by Guyana police in following days. Some of the bodies had gunshot wounds. Jonestown was the greatest loss of American civilian lives in a non-natural disaster until the September 11, 2001 attacks.
After Congressman Leo Ryan announced that he would investigate Jonestown following the November 1978 elections, Willie Brown was still planning a fund raising dinner for the Temple that was to be held on December 2, 1978.
Brown continued to praise Jones after the mass suicide, feeling that attacks on Jones were attacks on the black community. Brown stated he had "no regrets" over his past association the Temple and that he would not dissociate himself from it like other politicians. "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."
In 1975, Willie Brown authored and lobbied the successful passing of the Consenting Adult Sex Bill that legalized homosexuality in California, thus earning the strong and lasting support of San Francisco's gay community. Similarly, he voted against AB 607, which banned same-sex marriage in 1977.
Kamala Harris's began her career in politics at the age of 29 by having an extra-marital affair with the corrupt 60-year-old California politician Willie Brown. As San Francisco mayor, when they were having their affair, Brown was dogged by conflict of interest accusations, and as speaker of the California Assembly was investigated by the FBI. When the tryst began, she was a low level clerk in a city office of Mayor Brown's political machine. Mayor Brown gave her a brand new 1994 BMW. As Speaker, Brown appointed her to high paying jobs on the California Medical Assistance Commission and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. During her first bid for electoral office as district attorney of San Francisco in 2003, which Speaker Brown supported with donations, she excused the gift of a brand new BMW away, telling reporters she traded it in for a 1997 BMW which she then drove.
As Attorney General, Harris's refusal to defend California's Proposition 8 in federal court led to the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting the Appeal by the Proposition's promoters for a lack of standing. Proposition 8 passed the voters by a wide margin, banning same sex marriage. Harris's decision not to defend the will of the voters was significant, leading to same-sex marriage in California..
- Jim Jones' sinister grip on San Francisco: How the Peoples Temple cult leader ensnared Harvey Milk and other progressive icons, David Talbot, Slate, May 1, 2012.
- Richardson, James, Willie Brown A Biography, University of California Press, 1996, p. 252
- PBS, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, 2007 Template:Webarchive
- Kilduff, Marshall and Ron Javers. Suicide Cult: The Inside Story of the Peoples Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana. Bantam Books, New York, 1978. ISBN|978-0-553-12920-5. page 49.
- Layton, Deborah. Seductive Poison. Anchor, 1999. ISBN|978-0-385-48984-3. page 105.
- Tim Reiterman (1982) "Raven (book)|Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People" ISBN|978-0-525-24136-2 page 307
- Layton, Deborah 1999. p. 105
- Tim Reiterman (1982) "Raven (book)|Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People" ISBN|978-0-525-24136-2 page 308
- Kinsolving, Kathleen and Tom. "Madman in Our Midst: Jim Jones and the California Cover Up." Ross Institute. 1998. Template:Webarchive
- Transcript of Recovered FBI tape Q 784 Template:Webarchive
- Nancy Dooley & Tim Reiterman, "Jim Jones: Power Broker", San Francisco Examiner, August 7, 1977
- Layton, Deborah. Seductive Poison. Anchor, 1999. ISBN|978-0-385-48984-3. p. 105.
- Los Angeles Times, "S.F. Temple Active in Politics", November 21, 1978
- Reiterman, Tim, and John Jacobs. Raven (book)|Raven: The Untold Story of Rev. Jim Jones and His People. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 978-0-525-24136-2. page 327
- Richardson, James, Willie Brown A Biography, University of California Press, 1996, p. 251 Template:Webarchive
- Tim Carter. There was no choice in Jonestown that day... Template:Webarchive Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio interview. 9 April 2007. Archived copy. Archived from the original on 2019-01-30.
- Milk, Harvey Letter Addressed to President Jimmy Carter, Dated February 19, 1978 Template:Webarchive
- Peoples Temple, Victims of Conspiracy Brochure, Jonestown Alternative Considerations, San Diego State University Archived copy. Archived from the original on January 24, 2011. Retrieved on 2019-01-31.
- Richardson, James (1997). Willie Brown: A Biography. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-585-24985-8.
- Richardson, James, Willie Brown A Biography, University of California Press, 1996, p. 252 Template:Webarchive