RFK Widow, 93, on His Killer: 'He Should Not Be Paroled' Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, D-N.Y. , speaks to campaign workers, June 5, 1968, as his wife Ethel, left, and California campaign manager Jesse Unruh, look on right, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy was shot shortly after this speech. (AP Photo)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 07 September 2021 07:42 PM
While the Kennedy family has been divided on parole for Sirhan Sirhan, 77 – the assassin of Robert Kennedy – widow Ethel Kennedy, 93, released a pointed statement Tuesday against it.
At the bottom of a typed-out statement, the widow signed in handwriting: "He should not be paroled – Ethel Kennedy."
Her printed statement stressed Sirhan was already shown "gentleness" in not having faced the death penalty.
"Bobby believed we should work to 'tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world,'" the statement read, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. "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."
Ethel Kennedy's position echoes the public remarks of six of her nine living children, but sons Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 67, and Douglas Kennedy, 54, have supported parole for their father's killer, speaking at Friday's hearing.
A San Diego, California, parole board Aug. 27 recommended parole for the RFK assassin after 53 years in prison, and six of the nine living children said in a joint statement they were "devastated" by the recommendation.
"We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release," the statement from read, according to the report.
Rory Kennedy, the youngest of the children, who was born six months after her father's death, wrote an essay for The New York Times on Sept. 1 titled, "The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn't Deserve Parole."
Rory Kennedy noted Sirhan's lack of accountability or remorse.
"At the time of the assassination, Mr. Sirhan admitted his guilt," she wrote. "At the time of the trial, he moved to plead guilty to murder in the first degree. Yet, across the decades that followed, right up through last week, he has not been willing to accept responsibility for his act and has shown little remorse.
"At his previous parole hearing, in 2016, when asked by Commissioner Brian Roberts to explain how he was involved in the murder, Mr. Sirhan replied, 'I was there, and I supposedly shot a gun.'
"The commissioner kept pressing: 'I'm asking you to tell me what you believe you’re responsible for."
"Mr. Sirhan replied: 'It's a good question. Legally speaking, I'm not guilty of anything.'"
Rory Kennedy, who never was able to meet her father, concluded: "As my father was taken forever, so too should Mr. Sirhan be."
Douglas Kennedy, though, said Sirhan deserves "compassion and love."
"I'm overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face," he said at a hearing, according to the Daily Mail. "I've lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told The Associated Press he had met his father's killer and he "asked for forgiveness," despite previously expressing doubt Sirhan shot his father, the Mail reported.