New Jersey police department sends 18-year-old BLM organizer a $2,500 overtime bill for security cost of her ‘small, peaceful protest’ of 40 people
- Emily Gil received the bill after her July 25 protest in Englewood Cliffs
- Cops say that she did not give the city notice before the protest took place
- Gill says the protest was small and peaceful, with 30 to 40 people attending
- Now the 18-year-old says the city is trying to stifle free speech with the bill
A teen who organized a Black Lives Matter rally in her northern New Jersey town has said she was sent a $2,500 bill from officials for police overtime.
Emily Gil, 18, of Englewood Cliffs received a letter earlier this month from Mayor Mario M. Kranjac looking for payment of $2,499.26 ‘for the police overtime caused by your protest,’ NJ Advance Media reported Friday.
A civil liberties advocate called the move ‘shocking’ and a potential infringement of free speech rights.
Gil, a recent high school graduate, had organized a protest on July 25 in the town, just across the Hudson River from the uppermost parts of Manhattan.
Emily Gil, 18, of Englewood Cliffs received a letter earlier this month looking for payment of $2,499.26 ‘for the police overtime caused by your protest’
Gil, a recent high school graduate, had organized a protest (above) on July 25 in the town, just across the river from the uppermost parts of Manhattan
She said she called for action like increasing affordable housing in the town, and chastised Engelwood Cliffs for not implementing it over the years.
The town’s letter said she had not met with officials before her protest, requiring them to hastily come up with security plans.
Gil said she didn’t meet with them in person over coronavirus concerns, but made an offer to meet via Zoom, which wasn’t accepted, and then officials stopped responding to her.
She said she had reached out to Kranjac after getting the bill, but has gotten no response.
‘I was shocked when I read the letter,’ she told WPVI-TV. ‘I felt a little disrespected because the tone of the letter was kind of condescending.’
Kranjac told NJ Advance Media that protesters’ rights of free speech and assembly were respected, and that Gil was wrong to link affordable housing to her protest.
Mayor Mario M. Kranjac that protesters’ rights of free speech and assembly were respected, and that Gil was wrong to link affordable housing to her protest
Gill says the protest was small and peaceful, with 30 to 40 people attending
‘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,’ he said.
An email was sent to Kranjac by The Associated Press seeking comment.
Four Democratic members of the town’s Council issued a statement opposing the Republican mayor’s decision, and said they would seek to cancel the bill. They said he owed the teen an apology.
Jeanne LoCicero, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, told the AP, ‘the idea of sending a bill to protesters is shocking.’
She said while it’s been attempted before, she hadn’t heard of any other town trying something similar over the protests of recent months.
‘People have the right to speak freely,’ the group said in a tweet on Friday. ‘Towns can’t charge protesters for police or insurance for exercising their constitutional rights.’