NJ Mayor Rescinds Bill That Charged Teenager $2,500 in Police Overtime for Organizing BLM Protest

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Mayor Mario K. Kranjac rescinded a $2,500 bill that had been given to 18-year-old Black Lives Matter protest organizer Emily Gil after organizing an event in July.

According to NJ Advance Media, Gil had put together the protest in response to learning about affordable housing requirements that the town lacked.

Following the protest, which had between 30 and 40 people, according to Gil, Kranjac sent her a letter asking her to pay $2,499.26. Gil said the protest was peaceful, and the participants cleaned up after themselves.

The letter provided to NJ Advanced Media said the local police weren't prepared for the protest. "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," the letter stated.

NJ Advance Media reported that Gil tried to organize a meeting with city officials over Zoom, but "they kept pushing (an in-person meeting)," according to Gil.

But according to CNBC, Kranjac sent another letter to Gil saying she wouldn't have to pay. "I was told that all private events requiring police overtime should be paid for by the organizers. It was never intended as a fine, but rather as a fee," his letter said. "I have researched the issue further with my own counsel and I am hereby rescinding the bill, subject to our Council's ratification of my action." He also said that the borough's ordinances would be adjusted to respect constitutional rights.

CNBC also reported that Kranjac said that he'd work on the town's affordable housing options.

In an emailed statement to Newsweek, Kranjac summarized why he'd sent the bill and rescinded it. "I relied on the advice of municipal staff and their advice was incorrect. I rescinded the invoice as I want everyone to be able to exercise their constitutional rights," he wrote.

Prior to rescinding the letter, Kranjac had told NJ Advance Media that Gil's beliefs about affordable housing in Englewood Cliffs were incorrect, and the bill was sent because the event was treated as a "privately-sponsored event that takes place in the borough requiring police safety," saying it wouldn't be fair for residents to foot the bill. "Ms. Gil is misinformed when she links our affordable housing issues with her protest, and she is wrong when she writes that I voted against affordable housing," he said.

Four Democratic council members called out the mayor and promised Gil she wouldn't have to pay. "Mayor Kranjac should be ashamed of himself, and as members of the Borough Council we will be acting to invalidate this ridiculous bill and make it clear to Emily Gil and her family that they will not be expected to pay anything," the members said in a statement to Insider NJ.

Black Lives Matter
Protesters hold a sign in support of Black Lives Matter during the Commitment March on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network organized a march with families who lost loved ones to police brutality, calling for criminal justice reform and demanding changes to federal legislation against police misconduct. A NJ mayor rescinded a bill given to an 18 year old protest organizer. Getty/Natasha Moustache