Newsom denies parole of RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan





The Democratic governor said he had determined that Sirhan posed a very significant threat to public safety, citing Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for the crime or renounce violence. | Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

Written by Jeremy B White

updated


California Governor Gavin Newsom blocked the release of Robert Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sirhan, whose fatal shots shook America half a century ago and redirected history.

The Democratic governor said he had determined that Sirhan posed a very significant threat to public safety, citing Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for the crime or renounce violence.

“Mr. Newsom said in a statement that Sarhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy was one of the worst crimes in US history. After decades in prison, he failed to address the shortcomings that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy. Mr. Sarhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from Making the same kinds of dangerous decisions he’s made in the past.”

Last year, the Parole Committee recommended Sarhan’s release, more than half a century after Kennedy was brought down in Los Angeles during the Democrats’ presidential campaign in 1968. While parole board members cited Sarhan’s self-improvement and new laws that require them to consider his current situation. With his health and youth at the time of the crime, the decision was ultimately up to Newsom.

This choice divided both the public and the Kennedy family. While two of the remaining Kennedy children supported Sirhan’s release, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. espousing the theory that Sirhan was innocent, the majority of the Kennedy family—including Kennedy’s widow—urged Newsom to keep Sarhan imprisoned. The latter group paid tribute to Newsom on Thursday.

Ethel Kennedy and Joseph B. . By reasserting that freedom depends on responsibility, the Governor protects Californians and people around the world – a tradition of Robert Kennedy and true to his legacy. “

Newsom’s decision carried deep national implications and a painful personal dimension. The Democratic governor reveries Kennedy as a personal hero, and keeps portraits of the former US attorney general and presidential candidate in his office and home.

The governor acknowledged the profound resonance of the case for many people, saying he was inundated with messages from people who took positions on Sirhan and reminisced about the turbulent era in which Kennedy was murdered.

“This is very emotionally blunt,” Newsom said last year, because it evokes “memories of that time” that “some people might understandably wish to suppress.”

Newsom reported his leanings on Wednesday by noting that most of the Kennedy family felt differently than Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who supported Sarhan’s release.

“The vast majority of the Shriver and Kennedy family members oppose Mr. Sarhan’s release,” Newsom said.

It is not uncommon for Newsom to bypass parole boards in murder cases. He has overturned prisoner releases more than 150 times since becoming governor, including repeatedly refusing to parole aides to former cult leader Charles Manson.

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