New Jersey teenager Emily Gil was hit with a bill for police overtime last month after she organized a Black Lives Matter rally without first meeting with local officials.
What’s the background?
Gil, who had just recently graduated high school, said she organized the rally in her small town of Englewood Cliffs after she had learned the city has allegedly “dodged affordable housing requirements for 40-plus years,” she told NJ Advance Media.
“I find that unacceptable,” Gil told the news outlet.
The rally took place on July 31; only 30 to 40 people turned out, according to Gil.
When did the bill come?
Four days after the rally, Gil received a letter in the mail from Englewood Cliffs Mayor Mario Kranjac — and a bill for nearly $2,500.
According to the letter, Gil refused to meet with officials prior to the rally, which left them scrambling to provide the rally with adequate security resources.
“Please promptly forward your payment to the borough in the amount of $2,499.26 for the police overtime caused by your protest,” Kranjac wrote. “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.”
Gil, however, claimed she tried to meet with officials via Zoom because she had concerns about COVID-19. She said officials did not accept her offer.
Kranjac told NJ Advance Media that he sent the bill because taxpayers should not be forced to burden the costs associated with private events.
“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 told the media outlet.
Gil’s event required “extensive preparation,” according to Englewood Cliffs Police Chief William Henkelman, as well as additional staffing, which included overtime expenses.
For her part, Gil claimed the city was retaliating against her for speaking out about affordable housing.
“Englewood Cliffs is trying to intimidate and silence people who are standing up for Black Lives Matter and the implementation of affordable housing,” the teenager told NJ Advance Media.