OAKLAND -- Plans to memorialize victims of the Jonestown massacre took another twist Monday, continuing a strange saga marked by competing versions of a monument decades in the making.
At the heart of the controversy is whether to include the name of Jim Jones, who led hundreds of men, women and their children to Guyana in search of a utopian society. More than 900 of them were forced on Nov. 18, 1978, to poison themselves by drinking cyanide at his command.
Jim Jones Jr. said a marker will be installed at Evergreen Cemetery in East Oakland and will bear the name of his adopted father, as well as the others who died in Guyana.
The decision to include Jones in a memorial prompted the objection of Jynona Norwood, the woman who has for decades led a drive to build a monument to the victims.
"We have forgiven," she said Monday, standing near the graves of her mother, uncle and grandmother, who are among the hundreds of victims buried at Evergreen. "But why would I want to remember anyone but the children and the families executed by Jim Jones?"
Her organization originally claimed that Jones Jr. stood in the way of her monument. Then, contradicting the statement on her website that was distributed last week to reporters, she went on to say Monday that Jones Jr. was "probably one of the leaders but not the force behind it."
The real obstacle, she said, is the Evergreen Cemetery.
Evergreen Director Ron Haulman, however, said Norwood has never received approval from the cemetery and that her proposal for a massive seven-piece monument "can't physically fit there."
"Dr. Norwood has never given us a dime," he said by telephone Monday.
Instead, a memorial bearing the name of Jones is being manufactured by Amador Memorial in Oakland. An Amador employee, Cindy Horton, said they received the stone for the competing project on Monday.
The more modest marker was paid for by a group of supporters, including the younger Jones and several people who contributed to the $30,000 raised by Norwood since the 1990s. Norwood said she gave that money to the company originally contracted to build the monument, San Rafael-based Marin Monument Co., which went out of business in 2010. She said Marin Monument was willing to reduce the monument's scale by half but that they had not given her an estimate.
Former Marin owner Billie Cortez said she and her late husband completed two sections by 2008. They only discussed scaling down the size of the rest of the monument to make it feasible for the hillside location -- not the price, adding that Norwood never paid the $70,000 she contractually owed them for the project.
Norwood, in contrast, reiterated that the monument has been completed and could be installed if not for Evergreen's opposition.
Amador has no involvement with Norwood's monument.
That means the marker bearing Jones' name will be the lone Jonestown memorial at Evergreen Cemetery.