Minneapolis is hiring social media influencers to share “city-generated and approved messages” during the trials of four former city police officers charged in the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, according to the Minnesota Reformer. The Minneapolis city council approved the plan on Friday, which calls for six influencers to be paid about $2,000 each to spread the city’s messages with Black, Native American, Hmong, and Latino communities.
The goal is to “address/dispel incorrect information” by using “trusted messengers,” part of a program the city refers to as its Joint Information System to share “timely and relevant information” with the public during the trials.
“Through the Communications and Neighborhood and Community Relations departments the City will ensure that communities and elected leaders have direct access to information in real time leading up to the trial, during the trial and when the verdict is announced,” according to the city. “We intend to offer enhanced community services during the trial to keep people informed and safe, especially non-English and Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities and small businesses that do not rely on traditional media.”
Floyd died in police custody last May, after former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while he lay on the ground in handcuffs. The incident sparked protests in Minneapolis and across the country for much of last summer. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Jury selection for his trial begins March 8th. The other three ex-officers are due to go on trial in August.
Even before Floyd’s death, there was widespread mistrust between Minneapolis’ Black residents and the police; according to the New York Times, between 2015 and 2020, Minneapolis police used force against Black people least seven times more than they did white people.