A New Jersey mayor is backing down on the “police overtime bill” issued to a teenager for organizing a Black Lives Matter protest rally after getting public backlash.
A democratic exercise: Back in July, Emily Gil led a peaceful demonstration in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to protest the lack of affordable housing in Bergen County.
- The 18-year-old reportedly felt that things had to change for the Black residents who are being priced out, reports NJ Advance Media.
- “Englewood Cliffs has dodged affordable housing requirements for 40-plus years,” Gil was quoted as saying.
- Gil, who recently graduated from Bergen County Technical School, said she found the decades-long problem “unacceptable.”
- Held next to police headquarters on July 25, the protest was attended by about 30 people.
- While Gil had alerted officials about her protest, she noted that there was hardly any police presence in the area during the event.
Charged for overtime: A few days after the rally, Englewood Cliffs Mayor Mario Kranjac sent Gil a bill amounting to $2,500, noting that her protest caused the borough that much to provide security.
- In an interview with WPVI, Gil noted that the bill not only shocked her but also offended her due to the condescending tone of the letter.
- “Please promptly forward your payment to the borough in the amount of $2,499.26 for the police overtime caused by your protest,” the mayor wrote in a letter.
- According to Kranjach, Gil’s refusal to meet with officials before the event left the borough with “little time to prepare.”
- He noted that the police department and department of public works needed time to ensure public safety.
- Gil said the police presence was never asked and was simply imposed on the protest.
- “He said, ‘So now that you’ve alerted me that this is going on, I’m going to have to send the police to you.’ So it wasn’t something that I specifically requested. It was something that he imposed on me,” she argued.
Backing off: Following overwhelming criticism, Kranjac wrote to Gil once more to state that he is now rescinding the bill, saying he always wants to ensure “everyone’s Constitutional Rights are fully respected.”
- While the mayor also promised to adjust the “Borough’s ordinances” he didn’t include an apology to Gil.
- “He also tried to excuse what he did, by saying it was the advice of the borough administrator that led him to give me a fee,” Gil said. “What he sent me wasn’t even an official fine, or a fee. It was just a letter.”
- In response to the mayor’s decision, Democratic Council members released this statement: “After causing a national outcry against his tyrannical, blatantly unconstitutional and deeply immoral behavior, Mayor Mario Kranjac is now apparently backing off his demand for a local teenage activist to pay thousands of dollars for organizing a small, peaceful protest against racism.”
Feature Image via ABC7