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Minneapolis drops plan to pay social media influencers for Derek Chauvin trial

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Minneapolis admits it made a mistake by considering social media influencers to provide information to the public during the Derek Chauvin trial.

The city had devised a plan to pay influencers thousands of dollars each to release information on the trial, but on Monday say they have decided not to move forward with the strategy, per The New York Times.

People gather for a press conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Feb. 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

“When we make a mistake,” said Mark Ruff, the city coordinator for Minneapolis, “we acknowledge that, and we will do better.”

The plan was initially approved on Friday by the Minneapolis City Council. They were to pay six influencers to produce “city-generated and approved messages”  targeting the East African, Hmong, Latino, African-American, and Native American communities.

Activists quickly accused the city of trying to spin a false narrative of the trial.

“Heard the Mpls City Council was going to spend $1.1M during the trial to intentionally create propaganda for Black, Indigenous, Somali, Hmong, and Latinx communities… So, I decided to intentionally make media for the community they left out,” wrote Toussaint Morrison who has created YouTube videos mocking the response of city officials in the wake of Floyd’s death.

“This was never about trying to persuade or change public opinion about any particular message, but more it was about getting important information out quickly and in an equitable way,” said David Rubedor, director of the city’s neighborhood and community relations department.

Rubedor adds the plan was proposed in order to quickly provide accurate information about the trial to those who do not subscribe to traditional media.

“For this strategy we used the term social media influencer, which, in retrospect, did not accurately reflect what we were asking of our partners and it caused confusion in the community.”

He also offered an apology.

“While I believe in and support the intention of this recommendation, we have seen that the impact has caused harm in our communities, and for that, I’m sorry.”

As previously reported by theGrio, the initial plan was going to offer influencers $2K for the promotion.

The idea was conceived as a part of Minneapolis’ Joint Information System as a method of providing “timely and relevant information” on various means and platforms. It will also extend to radio stations in communities of color and other Black-led media outlets.

City spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said the “goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or city communications channels,” as well as serving non-English speakers.

“It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities,” McKenzie stated.

Derek Chauvin J Alexander thegrio.com
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows from left, former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Four officers will stand trial for their part in Floyd’s death. He was killed during an arrest last May 25 as he was being placed into custody.

Former officer Derek Chauvin, who was recorded with his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers,  J. Alexander KuengThomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao, face aiding and abetting charges.

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