Minneapolis officials have announced plans to pay six influencers $2,000 each to ‘help dispel potential misinformation’ during Derek Chauvin’s trial.
The social media stars picked by the council will be from minority communities in an effort to spread ‘city-generated and approved messages’, authorities say.
The city council is keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence in the wake of George Floyd‘s death on May 25 when white police officer Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he pleaded he couldn’t breathe.
Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial begins March 8 with opening statements March 29. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges; three other fired officers go on trial in August.
Councilors voted Friday to approve the $1 million communication plan. It is not known which social media platform the council will target.
They said in a statement: ‘The City is collaborating with social media partners to share public information with cultural communities and to help dispel potential misinformation during the upcoming trials of the former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.’
But the move has sparked among some in the city, with activist Toussaint Morrison telling CBS: ‘The key word here is ‘city-approved’. What do you think the message is going to be? It’s going to be pro-city, it’s going to be anti-protest.’
Minneapolis officials have announced plans to pay six influencers $2,000 each to ‘help dispel potential misinformation’ during Derek Chauvin’s trial. White police officer Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, left, while the black man was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Jury selection begins March 8 with opening statements March 29
Morrison added: ‘If you go through lengths and measures to buy a narrative, what does that say about the leadership and trust that has been eroded in the past few years?
‘You buy people to tell you that your emotions aren’t valid, or that you should stay home and not protest, or that certain things are more important than justice.
‘So I really feel that them trying to buy the narrative from social media influencers is really disappointing.’
Michelle Gross, the president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said: ‘I don’t think this is about dismantling falsities. I think this is about crafting a narrative and controlling it.
‘And I think people will see through this, frankly.’
Executive director of The Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, Sarah Davis, said: ‘It really reflects that they know there’s a lack of trust between community and city institutions and that’s real, let’s be honest about that, that’s real.’
The city council is keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25 last year. Floyd is pictured
The city of Minneapolis added: ‘The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English.
‘It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the City and communities. The recommendations for which social media messengers to partner with come from the City’s Neighborhood and Community Relations staff.
‘The agreements with the social media partners have not been finalized. The City is adhering to procurement requirements for the selection and contracting processes.’
Barbed wire and concrete barriers already surround the courthouse where the former Minneapolis police officer will soon go on trial.
Mayor Jacob Frey and Gov. Tim Walz, both Democrats, were sharply criticized for failing to move faster to stop last summer’s looting and destruction, which included the torching of a police station.
Anything less than a murder conviction for Derek Chauvin is likely to test them — and the city — once again.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Minneapolis after Floyd’s death.
Protesters march near the Minneapolis 1st Police precinct during a demonstration against police brutality and racism on June 13 last year
Cars burn behind a protestor during a demonstration in Minneapolis on May 29
Flames rise from a liquor store and shops near the Third Police Precinct on May 28
Many demonstrated peacefully. But for several nights, the unrest spiraled into violence, with stores looted and set ablaze along the Lake Street commercial artery that included the 3rd Precinct police station, which was home to the officers who arrested Floyd.
The station itself was eventually abandoned by police and burned by rioters. Some nervous neighborhoods formed watch groups, setting up checkpoints and sometimes armed patrols.
The violence finally subsided after National Guard troops arrived in sufficient numbers.
Frey said more than 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the state and Minnesota National Guard soldiers will be at the ready when the case goes to the jury, expected in late April or early May.
Further details on the social media plans will be released on Monday morning.
Jury selection begins March 8 with opening statements March 29. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges; three other fired officers go on trial in August