ALAMEDA, Calif. – Governor Gavin Newsom indicated on Wednesday that he was inclined not to release the Robert F. Kennedy assassin from prison, despite insisting he had made no decision.
A state probation panel recently recommended Sirhan Sirhan’s release, initiating a process that will give Newsom the final say on Sirhan’s fate. During a stop at an elementary school the day after the governor’s recall failed, Newsom said he did not want to take a public position that would disrupt this process and “jeopardize the entire process.”
However, he stressed that Kennedy plays a huge role as a personal hero, whose image adorns the governor’s office and his home office.
“I think that gives you a sense of where I might be right now,” Newsom said, though he was quick to put down a follow-up question on whether he will likely block Sirhan’s release. “I don’t want to interfere with this process any further,” he said.
Almost half a century after Sirhan killed Kennedy in Los Angeles, the prospect of Sirhan leaving prison has sparked passionate responses. Members of the Kennedy family have split over whether parole is appropriate.
Newsom said he was inundated with text messages and emails from people conveying visceral responses to Sirhan’s fate.
“It’s very raw emotionally,” Newsom said, fueling “memories of that time” that some people “understandably want to suppress”.