ALAMEDA, Calif .– Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted Wednesday that he was inclined not to release Robert F. Kennedy’s killer from prison, although he stressed he had not made a decision.
A state parole board recently recommended Sirhan Sirhan’s release, starting a process that will leave Newsom with the final say on Sirhan’s fate. During a stop at an elementary school a day after defeating the governor’s recall, Newsom said he did not want to take a public position that would interfere with these procedures and “put this whole process at risk.”
But he stressed that Kennedy holds an important place as a personal hero whose image adorns the governor’s office and his home office.
“I think that gives you an idea of where I might lean right now,” Newsom said, although he quickly answered a follow-up question on whether he was likely to block the release of Sirhan. “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 breaking out of prison has sparked heated reactions. Members of the Kennedy family were divided over whether parole would be appropriate.
Newsom said he was inundated with texts and emails from people expressing visceral reactions to Sirhan’s plight.
“It’s very raw emotionally,” Newsom said, arousing “memories of that time” that some people “might understandably want to delete.”