A high school graduate who recently organized a rally on Black Lives Matter in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, said she was billed $ 2,500 by city officials for police overtime, causing the anger of civil liberty advocates woke up and asked the mayor of the city to keep the bill.
Emily Gil, the 18-year-old who organized the event in July, was ordered by Mayor Mario Kranjac to pay $ 2,499.26 "for police overtime caused by your protest," according to a letter from NJ Advance Media emerges. Gil's protest called on the city to improve access to affordable housing.
The letter said Gil refused to meet with officials prior to their event, so they made efforts to prepare security plans.
"Your lack of notification gave the district little time to prepare for your protest so that the police department and public works department can ensure everyone is safe," the letter said.
However, Gil said she declined requests to meet with officials in person due to concerns about the coronavirus and that officials never accepted her offer to meet remotely on Zoom. Gil told NJ Advance Media that only 30 to 40 people attended the rally and did not cause any disturbance.
"Englewood Cliffs is trying to intimidate and silence people who advocate Black Lives Matter and the introduction of affordable housing," Gil told the news agency. Kranjac said Gil was wrong to associate affordable housing with their protest.
"As with any privately sponsored event held in the community that requires police security, a police overtime bill has been sent to the organizer as it would be unfair to ask our residents to fund a private event," said Kranjac.
Four Democratic members of the city council issued a statement Friday condemning the Republican mayor's bill, arguing that he tried to "harass and silence a young woman who simply dared to exercise her first rights of amendment" .
The mayor said in a letter to Gil on Saturday that he had canceled the police overtime bill, saying the bill was based on advice from the district administrator. He also said he would continue to work on affordable housing in the city.
"I was told that all private events that required police overtime should be paid for by the organizers. They were never intended to be a fine, but a fee," Kranjac wrote in a letter.
"I have investigated the issue further with my own lawyer and I hereby repeal the bill, subject to our council ratifying my action," he continued. "I always want to make sure that everyone's constitutional rights are fully respected. We need to adjust the district's ordinances accordingly."