New Jersey mayor rescinds $2,500 bill issued to teen over peaceful BLM protest

A New Jersey mayor has rescinded a bill sent to an 18-year-old for nearly $2,500 in police overtime costs after she organized a Black Lives Matter rally in her town over affordable housing.

a person holding a sign in front of a crowd: New Jersey mayor rescinds $2,500 bill issued to teen over peaceful BLM protest © Bonnie Cash New Jersey mayor rescinds $2,500 bill issued to teen over peaceful BLM protest

NJ Advance Media first reported that the teen, Emily Gil, said she got the bill earlier this month from Englewood Cliffs Mayor Mario M. Kranjac (R) for $2,499.26 "for the police overtime caused by your protest."

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The July protest had approximately 30 attendees.

Kranjac said in a statement to The Hill that 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," Kranjac said.

"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," he continued.

Gil told ABC7 Eyewitness News that the official has not apologized to her for the initial bill.

"He also tried to excuse what he did, by saying it was the advice of the borough administrator that led him to give me a fee," Gil said. "And I'm feeling like that doesn't make any sense. Because what he sent me wasn't even an official fine, or a fee. It was just a letter," Gil said.

Four Democratic members of town's council released a statement Saturday condemning the bill after it was rescinded.

"After causing a national outcry against his tyrannical, blatantly unconstitutional and deeply immoral behavior, Mayor Mario Kranjac is now apparently backing off his demand for a local teenage activist to pay thousands of dollars for organizing a small, peaceful protest against racism," the statement said.

"However, he has still refused to apologize and our Borough Council members are still exploring ways to hold the Mayor accountable," it continued.

Gil received a letter alongside the initial bill that claimed that the city had to scramble to find police to work overtime for the event because she did not meet with officials prior to the protest. Gil said she did not want to meet in person amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, noting that her offer to meet virtually with officials was rejected.

The teenager said she held the protest because the city has "dodged affordable housing requirements for 40-plus years."


Video: Black lawmakers reflect on civil rights efforts (Associated Press)

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