Tag Archives: Sirhan Sirhan

RFK’s widow weighs in: no parole for Sirhan

Does this now doom Sirhan Sirhan’s journey toward the door of the prison where he has been held for 53 years?

No, but it should.

Ethel Kennedy, the wife of the man Sirhan murdered on June 5, 1968, has said Sen. Robert Kennedy’s killer should not walk free. “Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man,” Kennedy, 93, said in a statement of Sirhan Sirhan. “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.”

A two-person parole board has recommended Sirhan be released. It’s far from a done deal. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has the authority to veto what the panel has recommended. A complete review of the parole recommendation could take months to complete.

Six of the Kennedys’ nine surviving children have spoken out against the recommendation to parole Sirhan. RFK Jr. and Douglas Kennedy have endorsed the parole recommendation. Now, though, their mother has said that Sirhan still poses too great a risk to society for him to walk free.

On a personal note, I still mourn RFK’s murder. I was able to shake his hand a week before he ventured into the hotel kitchen after winning the California Democratic primary. I was shaken to the core at his death and it still haunts me.

I do not mean to suggest that Robert Kennedy’s life means more than any other murder victim, but Sirhan Sirhan very well might have changed the course of U.S. political history by denying Americans the chance to decide whether RFK should become president of the United States in 1968.

Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, says Sirhan Sirhan ‘should not be paroled’ (msn.com)

Count me as one American who would not be disappointed in the least if Gov. Newsom decides to keep Sirhan B. Sirhan locked up … where he belongs.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Sirhan gets parole … wow!

This bit of news is going to take some time to sink in.

I am still processing the announcement that Sirhan Bishara Sirhan will be paroled from the California prison system 53 years after he shot my first political hero to death in a hotel kitchen.

Sirhan murdered Sen. Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968 moments after RFK declared victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary. Sen. Kennedy would linger for a day before succumbing. Robert Kennedy was 42 years of age and well might have been elected president of the United States. Hmm. Do you think his tragic death might have changed history’s trajectory? We were fighting a terribly unpopular war and Sen. Kennedy wanted to end it.

Let me stipulate that this recommendation does not make parole a done deal. It needs further review and final approval by the governor. However, the absence of any objection from prosecutors and the support of RFK”s family members suggest to me that it’s likely to occur. That Sirhan will walk out of prison.

Oh, my. How does one deal with this?

Two of the senator’s surviving sons, RFK Jr. and Douglas, both argued on behalf of Sirhan’s parole Douglas Kennedy said it is time to give way to grace and forgiveness. How in the world does one argue with the logic from the son of one of U.S. history’s more revered political figures?

I had hoped the 77-year-old Sirhan would spend the rest of his life behind bars. That won’t happen. He reportedly will live with his sole surviving brother.

No word, of course, yet has come from Ethel Kennedy, the slain senator’s wife who was there in the hotel kitchen when her husband was struck down; she was pregnant in that moment with the couple’s 11th child.

I am still trying to roll this one around. I cannot yet reach a decision on how I feel about Sirhan’s pending parole.

All I am feeling at this moment is renewed pain over the loss I felt at that moment when we got word at home in Oregon that RFK had been shot. I remember watching the returns from California. The networks declared Bobby Kennedy the winner and I went to bed a happy young man. I had the pleasure one week earlier of shaking the senator’s hand at a chance meeting in a restaurant parking as he finished campaigning in the Oregon Democratic primary.

Then my mother woke me up. She told me to come downstairs. I watched the horror of the event unfold in real time.

I am not going to express joy for Sirhan Sirhan’s release. I am saddened all over again.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s end the argument: RFK’s killer is behind bars

My heart is still broken over the murder of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy 50 years ago today.

Accordingly, I continue to hold members of his family in my heart as they continue to grieve over his death while running for the presidency of the United States.

But … I want to end this discussion that Sirhan Sirhan did not act alone in the Los Angeles hotel kitchen that night. I want to end the myth that there was another shooter in the room.

As you might already know from the blog, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I have dismissed the notion that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald murdered Bobby Kennedy’s brother, the president, in Dallas on the bright, sunny November day in 1963.

None other than Robert Kennedy Jr., the third-eldest of Bobby and Ethel’s 11 children, believes Sirhan did not kill his father. I do not intend here to disrespect RFK Jr.’s belief in a second gunman, or that someone else fired those shots.

I wasn’t there when Bobby was mortally wounded; however, neither was his son.

I do know that Sirhan yelled, “Kennedy, you son of a bi***!” before firing a revolver into the back of the senator’s head. Sirhan, an immigrant from Jordan, hated Kennedy’s strong pro-Israel stance as attorney general and then as a U.S. senator. I also know that members of Kennedy’s entourage grappled immediately with Sirhan after he fired the shots. They wrenched the pistol from his hand; the bullets were spent.

Sirhan was effectively caught in the act of changing the course of U.S. political history.

He fired the shots that killed Robert Kennedy. He was sentenced initially to death; but then the Supreme Court struck down capital punishment, meaning that Sirhan would serve a life sentence in a California prison.

He did the crime. He will die behind bars. I continue to mourn the victim of his heinous act of violence.

Please, let us stop promulgating the myth that Sirhan didn’t do it.

What might have been had tragedy not struck

A gunman changed the course of American political history. Dammit, anyhow!

We are left 50 years since that terrible day to wonder what might have occurred had the shooter missed, or had a presidential candidate taken another route from a hotel ballroom to his next stop.

Robert F. Kennedy had just won the California Democratic presidential primary on June 4, 1968. A few minutes after midnight, he spoke to a crowded Los Angeles hotel ballroom. He said, “On to Chicago and let’s win there.”

He didn’t make it to Chicago. Sirhan B. Sirhan shot Sen. Kennedy, inflicting a mortal wound not just on one man, but on the hearts of millions of Americans who had hope that this individual could change the direction of a nation at war with itself over the conduct of a conflict in a place called Vietnam.

RFK spoke uniquely to a nation that had just endured the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., and watched as its young warriors were dying daily on battlefields in Vietnam with no clear strategy to bring that war to an end.

I have my own Bobby Kennedy story. I’ve told it before. I want to restate it here, but with a twist.

A week before he died, RFK was campaigning in my home state of Oregon. He would lose the Oregon primary to Sen. Eugene McCarthy. On the last night of that campaign, Sen. Kennedy showed up at a tony Chinese restaurant next door to where I was working.

I saw his profile back-lit by a parking lot light, grabbed a pen and a piece of adding-machine paper and ran across to where he stood with his wife, Ethel. I walked up to Sen. Kennedy, thrust the paper and pen toward him. He signed it “RF Kennedy,” and handed the piece of paper back.

Then he asked, “Are you old enough to vote?” Stupid me. I didn’t have the presence of mind to lie at that moment. I wasn’t old enough to vote; the voting age was 21 in 1968. I should have said “yes.” I should have equivocated somehow, perhaps by telling him I would be old enough to vote in 1972.

I didn’t. I said, “No, I am not. I just want to wish you well, senator.”

Bobby’s response? He turned around and walked into the restaurant. He didn’t say another word to me. It was as if I no longer mattered to him.

Well …

Did that single act make me admire him less? Did I lose hope that he could change the nation’s political course? No on both counts.

One week later, he was gone.

A little more than two months after that, I reported for duty in the U.S. Army. My journey would take me to Vietnam, where I got a brief up-close look at the war that had torn the nation apart and given Robert Francis Kennedy a reason to seek the presidency.

This will be a difficult week for me as TV networks will broadcast remembrances of what might have occurred had fate not intervened.

I am likely to weep without shame.

Grandpa would have been proud

I watched Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Then I listened to some of the analysis of it. A few minutes later, I listened with equal intensity to the Democratic Party’s designated respondent to the president’s speech. A young member of Congress, Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., offered the response.

I listened to Rep. Kennedy with more than just a touch of wistfulness. The young man is the grandson of my first political idol. You’ve heard of him, too: Robert F. Kennedy.

I wrote once about an astonishing Bobby Kennedy Moment that occurred in my life. Here is what I wrote in June 2015:

A bullet changed history 47 years ago today

I have shared with you over the years I’ve written this blog about the astonishing array of public figures whose paths crossed with mine.

My brief encounter with Robert Kennedy ranks at the very top of the long list of distinguished individuals I’ve had the honor of meeting.

Get this, though: My meeting with RFK occurred one year after my graduation from high school. It happened on the eve of a 1968 presidential primary election in my home state of Oregon.

I had no possible idea in that moment that my political idol would die one week later after he scored the biggest political victory of his life. RFK had won the California Democratic primary. He thanked his supporters and then said, “On to Chicago and let’s win there.”

He never got to his party’s nominating convention in Chicago. He walked through a kitchen pantry in Los Angeles and was gunned down by Sirhan B. Sirhan.

When I saw the young man deliver his party’s response to the president’s speech last night, I only could imagine how proud he would have made the grandfather he never knew.

At least Joe Kennedy knows of the impact his grandpa had on millions of Americans — such as yours truly — who came of political age in the most turbulent of times.

RFK spoke of gun control … in Roseburg!

RFK's last speech

This story freaked me out when it became known.

The late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — who had some intimate knowledge of gun violence — made some remarks on May 27, 1968. His topic? Gun control.

RFK was responding to a sign in the crowd about the right to “keep and bear arms.”

He said: “With all the violence and murder and killings we’ve had in the United States, I think you will agree that we must keep firearms from people who have no business with guns or rifles.”

Sen. Kennedy was not advocating disarming Americans. He wasn’t calling for the feds to take people’s firearms away. He was speaking as one whose own brother, President John F. Kennedy, was killed by a man with a rifle in Dallas less than five years earlier.

The place where he made the remarks is in the news again. He spoke in Roseburg, Ore., as he campaigned for the presidency of the United States. Today, Roseburg is reeling from the shock of the massacre at Umpqua Community College by a maniac who then killed himself.

Late the next day — it was nearly midnight, as I recall — RFK pulled into a Portland restaurant next door to where I was working. I ran across the parking lot, extended a piece of paper and a pen to the senator and asked him for his autograph.

He signed the paper, “RF Kennedy,” and then went inside.

The next day, Oregon primary voters delivered him a stunning defeat when they cast most of their Democratic Party votes for Sen. Gene McCarthy.

RFK trudged off to California, won that state’s primary the next week — and then was murdered by Sirhan B. Sirhan in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

 

 

This killer must never walk free

Mark David Chapman has been denied parole yet again.

For the life of me, some elements of the criminal justice system seem unsolvable. Such as why someone like this ever would be considered for parole.

Chapman shot John Lennon to death on Dec. 8, 1980. As the parole hearing today noted, the officers interviewing Chapman denied him parole because “the victim,” Lennon, showed kindness to his killer before the bullet started flying that night in New York City.

http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/parole-denied-yet-again-for-lennons-killer

The former Beatle had signed Chapman’s copy of Lennon’s new album, chatted briefly with him, boarded his limo and then returned later in the evening — to meet his bloody death at Chapman’s hand.

“This victim had displayed kindness to you earlier in the day, and your actions have devastated a family and those who loved the victim,” the parole board wrote. Among those who “loved” John Lennon was, well, me and millions of others around the world.

Chapman is among the world’s most notorious murderers who go through this parole ritual every couple of years, only to be denied. Two other stand out:

* Sirhan Sirhan, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s killer, gets the same treatment. As he should. Sirhan’s gunning down of RFK, it’s been argued, changed the course of political history in this country as Kennedy died while campaigning in June 1968 for the presidency of the United States.

* Charles Manson, who ordered the murders of actress Sharon Tate and several others in 1969, is a raving bleeping lunatic. If you’ve ever listened to this man talk — today — about what happened 45 years ago, then you understand that he needs to stay locked up forever.

Chapman has exhibited all the signs of a sociopath, someone with no conscience. OK, so John Lennon wasn’t a world leader. He was a musician and a songwriter whose work still stands as an anthem for several generations of people all around the world.

Good night, Mark David Chapman. May you rot in that cell.