While some members of the political dynasty, the Kennedy family, support the proposed parole of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, his widow has come out firmly against Sirhan Sirhan’s release from prison.
“Bobby believed that we should work to ‘tame human savagery and calm the lives of the world,’” 93-year-old Ethel Kennedy said in a statement. “He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband.”
“Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man. We believe in the gentleness that spared his life, but in taming his act of violence, he should not have the opportunity to terrorize again. He should not be paroled,” Ethel Kennedy said.
Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Kennedy, a New York senator who was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in June 1968.
Sirhan, who is now 77, was offered parole on his 16th attempt on Aug. 27. But the decision will undergo a 120-day review process and go to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat. Newsom will have 30 days to decide whether to allow the release or reject it, and he can also amend the parole board’s decision.
The board’s ruling has split the Kennedy family. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Doug Kennedy have both expressed support for Sirhan’s parole, but six of Kennedy’s other children oppose the move.
In a statement, siblings Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy, and Rory Kennedy wrote they are “devastated” by the board’s decision.
“As children of Robert F. Kennedy, we are devastated that the man who murdered our father has been recommended for parole,” the statement said. “Our father’s death is a very difficult matter for us to discuss publicly and for the past many decades we have declined to engage directly in the parole process.”
“Given today’s unexpected recommendation by the California parole board after 15 previous decisions to deny release, we feel compelled to make our position clear. We adamantly oppose the parole and release of Sirhan Sirhan and are shocked by a ruling that we believe ignores the standards for parole of a confessed, first-degree murderer in the state of California,” they continued. “Our father’s death impacted our family in ways that can never adequately be articulated and today’s decision by a two-member parole board has inflicted enormous additional pain.”
They wrote that they are “in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release.”
“We urge the Parole Board staff, the full Board, and ultimately, Governor Newsom, to reverse this initial recommendation. It is a recommendation we intended to challenge every step of the way, and we hope that those who also hold the memory of our father in their hearts will stand with us,” they concluded.
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