Many were outraged when the story broke of a New Jersey teen who organized a small, peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in her town in July only to be slapped with a $2500 bill for police overtime.
Now, the mayor of Englewood Cliffs has rescinded the bill in the wake of the outcry that ensued—including from civil rights advocates.
NJ Town Rescinds Police Overtime Bill Charged to Teen for BLM Rally | NBC New York youtu.be
The controversy began in July, when 18-year-old Englewood Cliffs resident Emily Gil organized the small rally in the town on July 25.
Shortly thereafter, she received a letter from the town's mayor, Mario Kranjac, demanding payment for $2499.26 "for the police overtime caused by your protest." An outcry ensued—both in the news media and among social media users—for what many saw as an egregious assault on First Amendment rights.
Amid the outrage, the mayor rescinded the bill over the weekend.
In a statement to NBC New York, he explained that the invoice was sent in error.
"The bill was mistakenly issued based on advice I received from our borough administrator... I was told all private events requiring police overtime should be paid by organizers. The advice was incorrect."
But many, including Emily Gil herself feel the fact that the invoice was issued in the first place is ridiculous.
The mayor's letter stated that the charges resulted from the fact that Gil did not meet with city officials before the protest, forcing the city and its police department to scramble at the last minute to implement security procedures.
But Gil told NBC New York that she tried repeatedly to meet with the city via Zoom because of the pandemic, and they did not respond to her requests.
"They kept pushing for an in-person meeting, and then when I suggested Zoom a couple more times, they stopped contacting me."
She also said that the police's presence at the protest did not seem significant enough to warrant a $2500 bill.
"The police came out once to move the plastic barricades, and that was about all the police presence that we saw."
Englewood Cliffs Council President Gloria Oh did not mince words about the mayor's actions.
"This is an embarrassment to our community... We want to encourage young people to voice their opinions, and this resident, who's only 18 years old, who just graduated high school, was just doing that. And [the mayor] was just acting as a bully."
On Twitter, while people were glad the mayor rescinded the bill, many were still angry it was ever sent in the first place.
Good the bill shouldn’t have been sent in the first place. https://t.co/eCLJ5caePt— Thana 🏳️🌈🌹🌅💚 (@Thana 🏳️🌈🌹🌅💚)1598740708.0
@njdotcom He should be embarrassed that poor teen!— zulma trejo (@zulma trejo)1598738433.0
@njdotcom Imagine we got invoiced every time the police did something for us? Thank goodness for socialized police forces.— Digicruiter (@Digicruiter)1598736406.0
@KranjacM can’t rescind stupid https://t.co/vwKLeZNYcc— James 🌱🌹 (@James 🌱🌹)1598847572.0
But his response is a LIE, totally contradicts what he said on tv. He believes he was RIGHT, WELL......HE WASNT!! A… https://t.co/qJDM8au64K— FLY EAGLES FLY - 4EVERw/HRCpeoplesPOTUS🖕TRUMPS🥁 (@FLY EAGLES FLY - 4EVERw/HRCpeoplesPOTUS🖕TRUMPS🥁)1598759692.0
@Newsweek they woke up and found out they weren't in dixie, right?— Lloyd Little (@Lloyd Little)1598754150.0
Nice try . https://t.co/MoYiz6RIY4— Jon monk (@Jon monk)1598754792.0
@ACLUNJ So their attempt to muzzle protest has told everyone what Englewood cliffs is, even if we never heard of it… https://t.co/IGNFq8MQBQ— Liz Adams (@Liz Adams)1598729409.0
@ACLUNJ I will never be convinced it was not intended as intimidation and an attempt to stop other protests.— GastropodOfJoy (@GastropodOfJoy)1598728041.0
@ACLUNJ Aww... They think they get paid extra for doing their jobs.... They should have asked some teachers how that works...— Ner€id (@Ner€id)1598748608.0
Would this intimidation have been reversed without media coverage? Doubt it. https://t.co/21O8QiP6KP— Dr. Arati Kreibich (@Dr. Arati Kreibich)1598757923.0
Som in the town feel the rescission isn't enough: four of its council members have demanded that Kranjac needs to apologize to Gil. As of this writing, Kranjac has not responded to that demand or to media requests for further comment.