Jersey Mayor Backtracks After Charging Teen $2500 For Hosting BLM Rally

Julie Scagell
·5 mins read

The mayor rescinded his charge after his bill gained media attention

A New Jersey teen received a $2500 bill for “police overtime” after organizing a small Black Lives Matter protest, but says not only was there little police present during the event, she was told by the mayor that if she wanted to exercise her civic duty, she should volunteer at a local food bank instead.

Emily Gil, 18, organized a small Black Lives Matter rally in Englewood Cliffs on July 25 to protest the lack of affordable housing in her community, reported. She alerted Mayor Mario Kranjac about the protest and, in the letter explaining the $2500 charge, 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,'” Gil told ABC7, while adding that she didn’t specifically request police presence at her 30-person protest. “It was something that he imposed on me.”

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This is ridiculous and in my opinion was a way of trying to intimidate her. #BlackLivesMatterToo Emily Gil, who is 18, was inspired to hold a rally in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, this summer after watching thousands of Americans show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. "It's an issue we care about. And we notice these issues in our own town, so we can do something about it," Gil said. She also wanted to highlight a lack of affordable housing. Gil said she notified local officials in June about the protest and even met with the police chief to iron out logistics. The protest went off without a hitch on July 25 and lasted about 90 minutes. 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. She thinks she was 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. He later said, however, that he is rescinding the bill, which he said was issued pursuant to advice he received from the Borough Administrator who he understands consulted the Borough Attorney.

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The peaceful protest included around 30 people and lasted a couple of hours. In his letter to Gil, Kranjac wrote that it was necessary to charge Gil because she did not meet with officials before the protest. “Your lack of notification left the borough with little time to prepare for your protest so that the police department and department of public works could ensure that everyone would be safe,” he wrote.

Gil explained that borough officials asked for an in-person meeting but she declined because of the pandemic. She did ask to meet with them on Zoom but they declined. “They kept pushing (an in-person meeting) and then they stopped responding to me,” she said.

“Please promptly forward your payment to the borough in the amount of $2,499.26 for the police overtime caused by your protest,” Kranjac continued in his letter. Gil also said the mayor suggested she volunteer at a local food bank. “I felt a little disrespected, because the tone of the letter was condescending,” she said.

Gil, a filmmaker who graduated from Bergen County Technical School, won the New Jersey Governor’s Award and did an internship in Rep. Bill Pascrell’s office. Upon hearing about the charge, Pascrell called for the bill to be “rescinded immediately,” adding that Gil was “apparently being sanctioned” for standing up for justice.


After Kranjac’s bill to Gil began gaining traction in local media, the mayor changed his mind and canceled the charge.

“The bill was rescinded,” Kranjac told BuzzFeed News. “I relied on staff that provided improper guidance.”

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