ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, New Jersey (WABC) — A teenager in New Jersey thought she was doing the right thing by turning her anger over a lack of affordable housing into social activism, but, now, she has a pricey fight on her hands.
Emily Gil organized a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Englewood Cliffs in July, but she was shocked when she unexpectedly received a bill for the police response to that protest.
The demonstration next to police headquarters had about 30 people in attendance, but it led to a police overtime bill of nearly $2,500.
“I was shocked when I read the letter,” she said. “I felt a little disrespected because the tone of the letter was kind of condescending.”
The 18-year-old has been an activist in her town, and she had alerted officials about her protest and said any police presence at the event was barely visible.
“He sort of imposed a police presence on the protest,” she said. “He said, ‘So now that you’ve alerted me that this is going on, I’m going to have to send the police to you.’ So it wasn’t something that I specifically requested. It was something that he imposed on me.”
The letter from Mayor Mario Kranjac, a Republican, cited the presence of local and county authorities to protect the protest and citizens, and the mayor wrote the letter on city stationery and defended his actions.
“We incurred expenses, which we often do when there’s outside events coming through town,” he said. “And I sent her a bill for the police overtime.”
Kranjac also suggested in his letter that Gil donate some of her time to help a local food bank. He says the bill for overtime is routine.
“I’ve been consistent throughout,” he said. “If anyone does an event in town, we bill them.”
Gil said she has responded but has not gotten an answer over her questions about the bill and where the money should be sent to address the overtime bill.
Englewood Cliffs Democratic Council members say they will seek to cancel the bill and are calling on Mayor Kranjac to publicly apologize.