A New Jersey teen who organized a Black Lives Matter protest in her town said the local officials had the nerve to send her a $2,500 bill for “police overtime.”
New Jersey Advance Media reports that 18-year-old Emily Gil received a letter regarding the bill earlier this month, and it came from Englewood Cliffs Mayor Mario M. Kranjac. In the letter, he wrote that the town is asking for $2,499.26 “for the police overtime caused by your protest.” A recent graduate of high school, Gil organized the protest for July 25 and she stressed that the town hadn’t done enough to implement affordable housing in the area. Officials from the town, however, say that she didn’t approach them about the protest beforehand, and as such, they claim they scrambled to put together security plans in time.
She has claimed that she didn’t have a chance to meet with them in person, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she did offer to meet over Zoom. They didn’t accept the request, though, and officials stopped responding to her. Gil has added that upon receiving the letter, she reached out to Kranjac, but he didn’t respond. In a statement shared with NJ Advance Media, Kranjac said that Gil shouldn’t have utilized the protest to talk about affordable housing.
“As with any privately-sponsored event that takes place in the borough requiring police safety, an invoice was sent to the organizer for police overtime since it would be unfair to require our residents to financially support a private event,” Kranjac said. The Mayor, who is Republican, has already had his bill condemned by four Democratic members of the local Council. American Civil Liberties Union legal director Jeanne LoCicero called sending a bill to protesters a “shocking” idea.
After news of the Mayor’s bill circulated, he decided to rescind it.
In a letter to Emily, the mayor said he rescinded the bill for police overtime and explained that the bill was based on the advice of the borough administrator. He also said would continue to work on the town’s affordable housing options.
“I was told that all private events requiring police overtime should be paid for by the organizers. It was never intended as a fine, but rather as a fee,” Mayor Kranjac wrote in a letter.
“I have researched the issue further with my own counsel and I am hereby rescinding the bill, subject to our Council’s ratification of my action,” he continued. “I always want to make certain that everyone’s Constitutional Rights are fully respected. We will have to adjust the Borough’s ordinances accordingly.”