The family of Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old Barnard College freshman who was fatally stabbed in a New York City park last Wednesday, is blasting the NYPD for blaming marijuana for her murder. And the family isn’t alone. More than 1,000 mourners, alongside New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, have condemned the suggestion linking marijuana to Majors’ death. The comments came from NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins, who used the news as an opportunity to blame the recent de-escalation of marijuana enforcement for the murder.
NYPD Union President Calls Marijuana “Common Denominator” in Fatal Stabbing
On a Sunday morning radio talk show, NYPD Union President Ed Mullins, who recently came under fire for sharing a racist video to members of the union claimed that Tessa Majors was killed because she was in Manhattan’s Morningside Park to buy weed. But there is no evidence that Majors was attempting to purchase marijuana in the park.
“An 18-year-old college student at one of the most prestigious universities is murdered in a park, and what I’m understanding, she was in the park to buy marijuana,” Mullins said on the John Catsimatidis radio program.
Majors’ boyfriend told investigators that she was in the park jogging when she was attacked.
In addition to the unfounded claim about buying weed, Mullins also accused Mayor de Blasio’s policy shift on marijuana enforcement for crippling the NYPD’s ability to fight crime.
De Blasio has been battling with the NYPD to get police to adopt new enforcement postures that deprioritize busting people for cannabis use or possession. The mayor’s efforts have drawn fierce criticism from officers and the Benevolent Association in particular. Multiple studies have documented immense racial disparities in marijuana arrests by the NYPD.
Mullins exploited the tragedy of Majors’ killing to make his case against New York’s recent move to decriminalize simple marijuana use and possession. “We have a common denominator of marijuana,” Mullins said.
Family, de Blasio Condemn NYPD’s Victim-Blaming
NYPD Union head Ed Mullins’ comments sparked outrage among Tessa Majors’ family, mourners and the mayor. In a statement thanking the more than 1,000 mourners from the neighborhood and Barnard College who attended a vigil, Majors’ family called Mullins’ comments “irresponsible” and “deeply inappropriate.” In the statement, Majors’ family said Mullins’s accusations direct blame onto their daughter for her own murder.
Mayor de Blasio echoed the family’s words on Twitter. “This is heartless. It’s infuriating. We don’t shame victims in this city,” de Blasio said.
Public Defenders Bash Use of Murder to Push for Criminalization
Public defenders also spoke out against Mullins’ remarks. On Twitter, Scott Hechinger, a Brooklyn Public Defender, said “the NYPD is weaponizing Tessa Major’s murder to attack reductions in marijuana enforcement and the prospect of legalization. They use every tragedy to push their cynical agenda of more criminalization & greater harshness,” Hechinger added.
Still, sources close to the NYPD have told reporters that police are investigating the claim that Majors was in the park to buy marijuana. So far police have three suspects, all young teenage boys between the ages of 13 and 16. Only one suspect is currently in custody, and police are still searching for the suspect who allegedly committed the stabbing.