Politico

Newsom: RFK admiration shows 'where I might be leaning' on Sirhan parole


ALAMEDA, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted on Wednesday that he is inclined not to release Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin from prison, although he stressed that he has not made a decision.

A state parole board recently recommended Sirhan Sirhan be released, initiating a process that will leave Newsom with the final say over Sirhan’s fate. During a stop at an elementary school a day after defeating the gubernatorial recall, Newsom said he did not want to take a public position that would interfere with those proceedings and “put that entire process at risk.”

But he emphasized that Kennedy looms large as a personal hero whose image adorns the governor’s office and his office at home.

“I think that gives you a sense of where I might be leaning right now,” Newsom said, although he quickly batted down a follow-up question about whether he is likely to block Sirhan’s release. “I don’t want to prejudice any further this process,” he said.

Nearly half a century after Sirhan killed Kennedy in Los Angeles, the prospect of Sirhan exiting prison has spurred passionate reactions. Members of the Kennedy family have split on whether parole would be appropriate.

Newsom said he has been flooded by text messages and emails from people conveying visceral reactions to Sirhan’s fate.

“This is very raw emotionally,” Newsom said, stirring up “memories of that time” that some people “may want to suppress, understandably.”

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