Former Massachusetts congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III on Wednesday condemned the prospect of parole for Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man who was convicted of killing his grandfather, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968.
Kennedy, who represented the state’s fourth congressional district from 2013 until January, joined a number of his family members in opposition to the recommendation by two California Parole Board commissioners that Sirhan be released from prison.
“I believe deeply in the possibility of parole in the American justice system,” Kennedy wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “I also believe deeply that the man who murdered my grandfather does not deserve it.
“I echo the anger and heartache of my father, the majority of his siblings, and my grandmother at the California Parole Board’s recent recommendation,” he wrote. “For our family, there has been no apology, no acceptance of responsibility, and no remorse. For our country, there has been no justification for letting the perpetrator of one of our most devastating political assassinations walk free.”
Kennedy’s father, former Massachusetts congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, the eldest son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s 11 children, said on Sunday that Sirhan’s release would be “celebrated by those who believe that political disagreements can be solved with a gun.”
Sirhan shot Robert F. Kennedy shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after the New York senator delivered a speech celebrating his win in the California Democratic primary. Kennedy died the next day, nearly 26 hours after the shooting.
Five others were shot as Kennedy walked through the hotel’s pantry. They all survived.
Sirhan, 77, has been denied parole 15 times.
Joseph Kennedy II said Sirhan killed his father “because of his support of Israel.”
Last Friday, Kennedy and five of his siblings said they would challenge the parole recommendation “every step of the way.” Kennedy called on the full 18-member parole board and California Governor Gavin Newsom to reverse the decision.
On Wednesday, Joseph Kennedy III said the country “cannot accept violence as an answer to political disagreement. Not now. Not ever.”
“Our criminal justice system has been plagued by inequities since our founding. A movement towards rehabilitation, compassion, and understanding is long overdue,” he wrote. “But for those who have committed heinous acts of violence and continue to shirk responsibility, reject accountability, and resist any sort of empathy, there should be no such accommodation.”
Two of the late senator’s children, Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., supported the panel’s recommendation for Sirhan’s release.