A teenager who put together a Black Lives Matter protest in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, said she was billed nearly $2,500 for police overtime by the mayor, prompting anger from civil liberties advocates who pressured the town’s mayor to rescind the bill.
Emily Gil was the 18-year-old who organized the rally of 30 people next to Englewood Cliffs Police headquarters in July, WPVI reported.
Yet she was astonished when she was asked by Mayor Mario Kranjac to pay $2,499.26 “for the police overtime caused by your protest,” according to a letter obtained by NJ Advance Media.
Gil’s protest called for more affordable housing in the town.
The letter stated that Gil did not wish to meet with town officials before her event, which left them scrambling to find ways to keep the city safe.
“Your lack of notification left the borough with little time to prepare for your protest so that the police department and department of public works could ensure that everyone would be safe,” the letter said.
Gil, however, said she declined the requests to meet in person because of the coronavirus and instead wished to meet remotely on Zoom.
“Englewood Cliffs is trying to intimidate and silence people who are standing up for Black Lives Matter and the implementation of affordable housing,” Gil told NJ Advance Media.
Kranjac said, however, that Gil was incorrect to link her Black Lives Matter movement protest to 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.
Four Democrats on the town council issued a statement Friday condemning the Republican mayor for billing the activist, arguing that he tried to “bully and silence a young woman who simply dared to exercise her first amendment rights.”
Kranjac then sent a letter to Gil that he rescinded the bill, saying that he only billed her based on the advice of the borough administrator.
“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,” Kranjac wrote in the letter. “I always want to make certain that everyone’s Constitutional Rights are fully respected. We will have to adjust the Borough’s ordinances accordingly.”