Ashwaubenon, WI – The organizer of a Black Lives Matter march said she was outraged when the Village of Ashwaubenon sent her a bill for nearly $800 to cover costs associated with the event.
Hannah Lundin, 26, was sent the $763 invoice to repay the village for the cost of having police redirect traffic during the July 14 march, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions were also brought in to assist, according to WBAY.
The village alleged that the group of approximately 24 people blocked traffic for two hours without having a permit to do so, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Village leaders further determined that the protest was a special event, just like a marathon or other large organized gathering.
“In the interest of fairness and equality, this invoice is being sent out,” Ashwaubenon Public Safety Commander Nick Kozloski told Lundin in a letter. “Other entities who utilize police services to redirect traffic such as the Cellcom Marathon or Bellin Half-Marathon are also billed, and your event should be no different.”
Village officials told the Green Bay Press Gazette that if the demonstrators would have remained on the sidewalks as instructed and refrained from blocking traffic, Lundin would not have received the invoice.
Police also notified those in attendance about the importance of staying out of the street, and handed out copies of the municipal ordinance to them during the event, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
“We’re not treating her (Lundin) any different that we would treat anybody else that had come in to do an event in the village where we had to close off streets,” Ashwaubenon Village President May Kardoskee told WFRV. “We invoiced her just like we would invoice anybody else.”
But Lundin said she was outraged when she received the bill.
“Sending me an invoice for getting together a protest to support Black Lives Matter —that to me is a direct statement of ‘we are not in support of this movement and we don’t want to see any change for the Black community,'” she told the Green Bay Press Gazette.
“It was a direct reflection of their opinion and views on this movement and this cause,” she complained to WBAY. “I realized throughout this process and talking to people that this is also an administration decision, not just the police…I can say that and give them some slack that I don’t think this was solely their decision at the end of the day.”
Lundin and her fiancé, Tevin Taylor, have organized multiple other Black Lives Matter protests in Ashwaubenon and other local communities over the past several months, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
“I’ve done eight total protests that we’ve organized under ‘#Bust the Silence,’” Lundin told WFRV. “This the only one that I was actually invoiced for.”
She said she specifically targeted Ashwaubenon because it is a “predominantly white” area.
“We need to get you guys to start talking,” she told WFRV.
“I won’t be silenced, and I hope that our community will not be silenced either,” she said, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. “This is only momentum and force to keep pushing the cause.”
Meanwhile, the city of Howard issued Lundin a citation on Friday for having allegedly obstructed traffic during a July 28 protest she organized in that jurisdiction, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Her court hearing in that matter will take place in September.
Lundin’s supporters established an online petition demanding that the invoice be cancelled.
Over 580 people have signed off on the “No Fines for Freedom of Speech” petition so far.
In addition to refusing to pay the bill, Lundin also organized another protest in Ashwaubenon as a further show of defiance, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
About 20 people showed up to support her on Saturday, according to WBAY.
“I have all the confidence in the world that our community will come together and we will make a big enough impact to let them know that our community stands behind our black community members and that we will fight this until they decide to take it back,” Lundin told the Green Bay Press Gazette.