State Watch

Minneapolis hiring local influencers to dispel misinformation during Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis plans to hire local social media influencers to help spread the city's message and try to dispel misinformation during the upcoming trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd last year. 

Separately, the Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to support a $1.18 million Joint Information System plan focused on "timely and relevant" communication with the community "during periods of heightened tension" throughout the rest of 2021, a city spokesperson told The Hill. This includes the trial slated to start March 8.

The six influencers, who will have a large local following and be considered "trusted messengers," will send "city-generated and approved messages." Under the approved proposal, each of the influencers would be paid $2,000, a city spokesperson said in a statement.

Minneapolis's Neighborhood and Community Relations staff will choose the influencers, who will specifically target the messages to members of Black, Native American, East African, Hmong and Hispanic communities, according to CBS Minnesota.

"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," the city spokesperson said in a statement. "It's also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities."

The council's communication system also plans to recruit community groups and news outlets for communities of color to help in the communication.

Some activists in Minneapolis expressed worries about the plan to hire influencers, telling news outlets that community members may doubt any city-funded person, according to CBS Minnesota and The New York Times

The council will hold a public online briefing on its plans for the trial on Monday.  

The city broke out in protests last summer after a bystander video spread online showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes before Floyd's death. The video sparked international protests over police brutality and led to demonstrations and riots across Minneapolis, including a police station being set on fire.

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