The protest was over, but the mayor handed them something that was pure karma and was an absolute wake-up call to them…
What is the backstory to this? Apparently, when a Black Lives Matter aficionado organized a protest, the New Jersey police department and the mayor had a huge surprise waiting for her. The Englewood Cliffs, NJ police department sent this protester a bill for their police officers’ time. Emily Gil is 18, and she is young and idealistic, and she wanted to organize a protest for civil rights, but after receiving this bill for $2,499.26, she is quickly realizing why not too many people organize protests: it’s because they are too busy trying to put a roof over their head.
Mayor Mario M Kranjac felt that it was only fair that he should bill the teenager, simply due to the time that the police had to spend in overtime “caused by your protest.” The idealistic teen was shocked.
A local civil rights advocate called the mayor’s decision to bill this protest “shocking” and said that they felt that the mayor’s actions were likely to be a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution because it limits freedom of speech and the right of a peaceful protest.
While it’s definitely laudable that Gil wants to make a difference in the lives of Black Americans, her protest probably didn’t make the city of Englewood Cliffs look very good, and that probably did raise the ire of the mayor.
After the mayor sent this teen a bill for the overtime that his employees had to undergo, she noted in the letter that he said that she had not met with officials prior to the protest. Gil countered this by saying that the reason was that the city did not want to meet with her due to concerns over coronavirus. When the teen offered to meet with them over Zoom, they refused to do that either.
Gil said that after she received the bill she attempted to reach out to Kranjac, but she had not received a 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.”
Regardless, Kranjac feels like it is the right thing to bill her for the services of the cops. He insisted that the protestors were not disturbed by anyone, but he also said that Gil overstepped her bounds when she tried to protest over the affordable housing issue.
“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.
The mayor has not provided any comment to the Associated Press regarding this incident.
The mayor might seem intent on charging the teen over the protest, but members of the town council are opposed to the Republican mayor’s initiative. These political rivals are moving to cancel the bill and requesting an apology from the mayor.
Jeanne LoCicero is the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, and she told the Associated Press that she thought “the idea of sending a bill to protestors is shocking.”
Politicians have made attempts to bill protestors in the past, but they have always failed.
“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.”
Even though the protest was over, the mayor wasn’t having it and handed the organizer a bill! You’ve gotta wonder how she liked them apples!