In what appears a case of epic trolling by a local New Jersey police department (or more seriously a severe violation of 1st Amendment rights), a teen organizer behind a Black Lives Matters rally was billed by local police for $2,500 for their overtime pay.
In the town of Englewood Cliffs, which sits across the river from Upper Manhattan, an eighteen-year old girl and recent high school graduate named Emily Gil organized a protest on July 25. It turns out to have been relatively small and peaceful, with a mere 30 to 40 people gathered in front of the town's administration offices on a single day.
The town says she was supposed to submit advanced proper notification about the event, but failed to.
“Please promptly forward your payment to the borough in the amount of $2,499.26 for the police overtime caused by your protest,” Englewood Cliffs Mayor Mario M. Kranjac subsequently demanded in a letter following 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,” the letter adds.
The town's police chief also backed the action, saying his department was forced to make extensive last-minute preparations, including arranging overtime pay for police at the protest. It appears they were ready to handle the type of mayhem or possible rioting that has accompanied the much bigger BLM and Antifa protests and riots that have been part of many other demonstrations in major cities through early summer.
The current media attention has caused some town council members to openly condemn the city action, while the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has condemned slammed the fine as unconstitutional, stating, “the idea of sending a bill to protesters is shocking."
Meanwhile Englewood Cliffs police are claiming the teen's freedom of speech and assembly rights were fully upheld, while classifying the protest gathering as a "privately-sponsored event... requiring police safety".