New Jersey mayor relents, says Black Lives Matter organizer won't have to pay $2,500 police bill
Local ordinance allows for such bills to be issued, mayor originally said.
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Following outrage over the imposed fee, a New Jersey mayor on Saturday withdrew a $2,500 bill he had served to a local teen for police overtime stemming from the teen's recent Black Lives Matter protest.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey Mayor Mario Kranjac originally presented 18-year-old Emily Gil with the bill after the teen organized a Black Lives Matter rally in the Manhattan-adjacent borough.
Gil had said she was inspired to organize the rally roughly a month ago in late July. The event "went really well," she told local media, with participants waving signs and drivers "honking and showing support."
Yet several days after the incident, she said she received a $2,500 bill from Kranjac; the bill was for police overtime accrued during the event.
"I was shocked when I read that I had to pay to exercise my First Amendment right," Gil told media.
Kranjac originally said local ordinance permits the borough to bill residents for private events at which police were utilized for security. "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," the mayor told media.
Yet on Saturday, following backlash over media reports on the hefty price tag, Kranjac said he was rescinding the bill.
"It was never intended as a fine, but rather as a fee,” Kranjac 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.”
Gil, in turn, said that when Kranjac reached out to cancel the bill he "made excuses as to why he billed me in the first place."
"He also didn’t apologize to me which is infuriating," she added.
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