Not long after, she received a bill for thousands of dollars in the mail from the mayor, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
After watching thousands of Americans show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Emily Gil, 18, was inspired to hold her own rally at home in Englewood Cliffs.
“It’s an issue we care about. And we notice these issues in our own towns, so we can do something about it,” said Gil.
She also wanted to highlight a lack of affordable housing.
In June, Gil said she notified local officials about the protest and even met with the police chief to iron out logistics.
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The protest went off without a hitch on July 25 and lasted about 90 minutes.
“I would say it went really well,” said Gil. “We stood there with our signs and people were honking and showing support.”
A few days later, Gil said she received a letter from Mayor Mario Kranjac, billing her for about $2,500 worth of police overtime used during the protest.
“I was shocked when I read that I had to pay to exercise my First Amendment right,” said Gil, who thinks she was being targeted for her take on affordable housing in the community.
The mayor said he is the first in decades to combat the housing issue and had no problem with the protest.
“And we made sure that we fulfilled and satisfied our obligation to make sure that they can exercise their freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble,” said Mayor Kranjac.
Kranjac said the borough has an ordinance in place that allows it to bill for any expenses incurred for police services at private events. The bill sent to Gil was standard protocol, he said.
“We always bill… the bicycle race or running race or any other event, where our police are used, including utility work, people pay for the overtime,” said the mayor.
Gil argued this will inevitably silence young people who can’t afford to pay.
“I feel like if that voice is taken away, it’s really a big loss for the community at large,” said Gil.
The mayor said the money is due “sometime soon.” If Gil can’t pay, he’ll leave it up to the borough administrator to settle the issue.
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