The city of Middletown, Connecticut, is billing Wesleyan University almost $7,500 after a die-in protests last week required increased police presence to keep the students safe.
Middletown police shut down the busy intersection at Washington and Main Streets while as many as 300 Wesleyan students participated in the protest, many of whom did an 11-minute die-in, lying down in the intersection as a symbol of the 11 times Eric Garner said he couldn't breathe during the police chokehold incident in an arrest that led to his death. People held signs saying "Black Lives Matter." The demonstration was similar to protests around the country objecting to police brutality against people of color.
Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew said that the protest required calling in 46 additional police officers "to keep the demonstrators and the public safe." He sent Wesleyan President Michael Roth an invoice from the police department, billing the university for almost $7,493 total, including about $5,655 in overtime and nearly $1,838 in earned compensation time.
"I don't see other police departments charging people for protesting," one of the organizers said.
Other students agreed, but town residents had mixed feelings and some called it fair.
The mayor said the issue isn't the protest itself, it was the location at one of the busiest intersections in town, blocking traffic and emergency vehicles from passing through.
While the city offered to shut down secondary streets for the protest instead, organizers weren't interested, Drew said.
"They wanted to disrupt as much of the community's life as possible," Drew said.