Emily Gil, 18, who graduated in June from Bergen County Technical School, failed to properly warn authorities in advance about the event, NJ.com reported.
Gil believed that a shortage of affordable housing options in her neighborhood was a racial issue that should be brought to the public’s attention through a 30- to 40-person protest, according to NJ.com.
But four days after the demonstration, Gil received a bill for police overtime costs that officials say the protest incurred.
“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 wrote in a letter.
The letter explained that Gil’s refusal to meet with officials left the Englewood Cliffs Police Department scrambling to provide security for the event, prompting overtime work for several officers.
“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 mayor wrote, according to the news outlet.
Gil reportedly claimed she did not feel comfortable meeting with the officals in person due to the coronavirus, and asked if a Zoom meeting could be held instead. She said the request was denied.
“They kept pushing (an in-person meeting) and then they stopped responding to me,” Gil told NJ.com.
In response to the fine she received, Gil said she complained to Englewood Cliffs police Chief William Henkelman, arguing the event did not require extra services by the police and that each demonstrator who attended discarded their own trash properly.
The chief responded by notifying Gil that he had informed the borough of the “extensive preparation required and the additional staffing that was needed, including overtime expenses,” the publication reported Friday.
Gil said the mayor had not responded to her email sent more than two weeks earlier, questioning the “legitimacy of the bill.”
The Republican mayor did, however, respond to NJ.com’s inquiry.
“Ms. Gil is misinformed when she links our affordable housing issues with her protest, and she is wrong when she writes that I voted against affordable housing,” the mayor told the publication. “Everyone is welcome in Englewood Cliffs.”
The mayor suggested that the protest was a “private event” and therefore billable.
“As with any privately sponsored event that takes place in the borough requiring police safety, an invoice was sent to the organizer for police overtime since it would be unfair to require our residents to financially support a private event,” Kranjac told the local news outlet.
The mayor’s office could not be immediately reached for comment by Fox News.
In a tweet Friday, the ACLU of New Jersey defended Gil, claiming the fine was an illegal charge for exercising free-speech rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution.