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Outrage at Jonestown Massacre Monument


ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday May 13, 2011

A woman who lost 27 family members in the 1978 Jonestown Massacre has sued an Oakland cemetery association and its top officers, claiming that after she spent 18 years raising money to build a monument to the victims, the cemetery pulled a switch and decided to erect a different monument, based on a design from Jones’ People’s Church, which “proposes to include the name of Jim Jones himself as a victim of the Jonestown Massacre-Suicides.”

Courthouse News Service reports:

Jynona Norwood and her nonprofit, the Guyana Tribute Foundation, sued The Evergreen Cemetery Association, its president Buck Kamphausen, and its executive director Ron Haulman, in Alameda County Court. [...]

Norwood says most of her family members who died at Jonestown are buried at the Evergreen mass grave site.

Since 1980, Norwood has been holding annual public memorials at Evergreen to honor the victims of the massacre. She says that for decades she has been trying to erect a memorial wall with the names of the 918 victims at the Evergreen Cemetery, and that she planned to exclude Jim Jones’ name from the memorial.

According to the complaint, the “defendants orally agreed that they would be agreeable to, and willing to assist in, the building of a memorial wall honoring the victims of the Jonestown Massacre-Suicides.”

Norwood says that after she received a proposal from a monument company, the “defendants notified plaintiff that they would permit the construction of the memorial wall only if plaintiff used their preferred vendor, called Marin Monument Company Inc., working through Amador Memorial Company.

However, “On or about December 15, 2009, defendants wrote a letter to Norwood wherein they alleged, among other things, that the memorial wall had never been approved and that it was too large.”

Then, in March this year,

“Plaintiffs discovered by reading a news article that defendants had approved plans for another monument to be erected on the base and setting originally approved for plaintiffs’ memorial wall. This monument is proposed by the surviving People’s Church, led by [Jim Jones' adopted son] Jim Jones, Jr., and proposes to include the name of Jim Jones himself as a victim of the Jonestown Massacre-Suicides.” (Emphasis in complaint.)

Norwood says the defendants misappropriated the money she raised for the memorial and “defrauded plaintiffs of the use of a sacred site which plaintiffs have used for years to honor the victims of the Jonestown Massacre-Suicides.”

Norwood seeks compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraud. And she wants the defendants enjoined from building a memorial that honors Jim Jones “upon the mass grave site where most of the 305 children that Jim Jones ordered to be murdered are buried.”

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