What began months ago in the wake of George Floyd’s death has become a national movement of sorts, as protests continue to spring up from coast to coast here in the United States.
Many of these demonstrations still center around the issues of racial inequality and systemic racism, but a few offshoot groups have harnessed the momentum of these movements and branched out into more generic, anti-government sentiments.
As such, a number of these organized protests have turned violent, forcing law enforcement from the Potomac to Portland to be on their toes.
In New Jersey, the teenaged organizer of a short, 90 minute protest was shocked this week when she received an invoice from her city for the work that law enforcement did during the action.
After watching thousands of Americans show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Emily Gil, 18, was inspired to hold her own rally at home in Englewood Cliffs.
“It’s an issue we care about. And we notice these issues in our own towns, so we can do something about it,” said Gil.
She also wanted to highlight a lack of affordable housing.
In June, Gil said she notified local officials about the protest and even met with the police chief to iron out logistics.
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, who thinks she was being targeted for her take on affordable housing in the community.
Kranjac compared Gil’s event to a bike race or marathon, in which police officers are hired to ensure the safety of the participants. There was no set due date for the $2,500, and Kranjac said that he’d allow the city council to determine Gil’s fate, should she be unable to pay.
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