ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The teen who organized a rally to support the Black Lives Matter movement in her hometown in New Jersey is no longer on the hook for the cost of police overtime charged during the protest.
Gil said she worked with local officials and the police chief to plan out logistics ahead of time, but had no idea she would be asked to pay.
“To be able to circumvent a teenager’s freedom of speech. And I feel like that’s what we should all be mad about right now,” Gil said Friday.
Kranjac initially defended the move, saying it’s not the first time bills for cops’ overtime were sent to citizens.
“We always bill… the bicycle race or a running race or any other event where our police are used, including utility work, people pay for the overtime,” he said.
But the mayor reversed course Saturday.
Mayor Kranjac sent another letter saying he is “rescinding the bill” after reviewing a local ordinance, which he initially cited as the reason for charging Gil.
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“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,” said Kranjac in the letter to Gil.
Kranjac sent the following statement to CBS2:
“The bill was mistakenly issued based on advice I received from our Borough Administrator who I understand consulted the Borough Attorney. I was told that all private events requiring police overtime should be paid for by the organizers. That advice was incorrect.
“I have researched the issue further with my own counsel and it is clear that the exercise of Constitutional Rights are treated differently when it comes to Borough administration and billing. I always want to make certain that everyone’s Constitutional Rights are fully respected. We will have to adjust the Borough’s ordinances accordingly to ensure this never happens again.”
Gil is happy she doesn’t have to pay the bill but said the mayor didn’t take any responsibility.
“He said that he was given advice to go ahead with the fee, that it wasn’t entirely his fault. And again there was no apology attached to that. So definitely a little disrespected,” she told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
Gil said she’s worried this will prevent other young people from speaking out, but she says she came out of this even more passionate about her causes.
“I feel even more emboldened to speak out. If anything, the mayor’s letter to me, the rescinding of the fee, made me even more angry,” she said.
Kranjac did not respond to requests for an on-camera interview.
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