Remembering Guyana

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L.A. Times reporter Tim Reiterman, wounded the same day that Jonestown cultists shot and killed congressman Leo Ryan and three journalists -- among them former KNBC anchor Don Harris -- writes a first-person piece for the 25th anniversary. The mass poisoning of 913 People's Temple members in Guyana that followed gave us the phrase "drink the Kool-Aid."

Tim does these looks back at Jonestown every so often, but they can be an absorbing read especially for those whose memories are murky about the People's Temple and its crazed leader Jim Jones -- and the crazy times. Hundreds of the victims had followed Jones to South America from the Bay Area, which was rocked again nine days later when the mayor of San Francisco and the city's first elected gay official, George Moscone and Harvey Milk, were assassinated in their offices by another politician, Dan White. His conviction for voluntary manslaughter, not murder, set off riots in the gay community and gave us the phrase "Twinkie defense."

The first time that many Californians ever heard of or saw Dianne Feinstein, then a San Francisco supervisor, was when she announced the killings. She replaced Moscone as mayor and went on to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992.

Update 1:15 a.m.: Jeff Jarvis was Reiterman's editor at the S.F. Examiner at the time -- and he remembers.


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