“The NYPD is weaponizing Tessa Major’s murder to attack reductions in marijuana enforcement & the prospect of legalization. Never fails. They use every tragedy to push their cynical agenda of more criminalization & greater harshness,” public defender Scott Hechinger wrote Sunday night.
“The fear mongering argument also makes no sense. Assuming it’s even true that she was trying to buy marijuana in a park when killed, legalization would have prevented the need to go to a park,” he added. “She would have been able to buy from a licensed dispensary. With surveillance footage.”
At a vigil near the murder scene in Morningside Park on Sunday night, mourners demanded that politics take a back seat to Major’s memory.
“Don’t make it political!” several people yelled, as City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez spoke about how the Columbia University campus — which is shared by Barnard College students — was surrounded by poverty.
“There’s a 13-year-old who is thinking about killing someone. How? How someone reach that age and having those thoughts? We have failed. We have to turn responsibility,” Rodriguez said, drawing cries of “No political values!” and “This is a vigil!”
State Sen. Brian Benjamin took the microphone from Rodriguez as the shouts continued. “This was about acknowledging Tess, so we apologize,” Benjamin said. “We will stay on message. We will stay on message.”
Barnard graduate Darcy Cassidy, 26, who joined the nearly 500 people in attendance, said the vigil needed to be about more than politics.
“I would also like for there to be room for just grieving,” Cassidy said. “I think there should be space for both — for thinking about how we’ve created as a city circumstances where kids — where young children are so desperate that they resort to violence.”