Minneapolis Scraps Plan to Pay Influencers to Spread Info About Chauvin Trial

People use their cell phones to record a speaker during a protest over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on June 6, 2020 in Atlanta, United States. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Minneapolis no longer plans to pay social media influencers to share information about the upcoming trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in connection with George Floyd’s death.

Minneapolis Director of Communications Greta Bergstrom and Director of Neighborhood and Community Relations David Rubedor sent an email to elected city officials and reporters confirming plans to cancel the initiative.

“We would like to take a moment to address the recommendation to use social media ‘influencers’ as part of the Joint Information System information-sharing strategies,” the email stated.

“While we believe in and support the intention of this recommendation, we have seen the impact has caused harm. We are sorry and acknowledge that we will have to work to repair the harm that has been caused,” the email added. “At this point, we will NOT move forward with this strategy.”

The city’s initial plan was to have “paid partnerships” with “community members” who were influential on social media to share “city-approved” messages to keep people informed about the trial, according to the city of Minneapolis’s website.

The Minnesota Reformer was the first to report on this development last Friday. The news outlet stated that the city would pay $12,000 for this project, with $2,000 paid per influencer.

Many Minneapolis residents questioned the move and the city’s motive for coming up with such a plan.

“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?” Toussaint Morrison, a community activist in Minneapolis, told KTSP.

Chauvin’s trial is set to begin March 8 with jury selection. He faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with Floyd’s death.

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