This story was originally posted on February 26
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Authorities in Minneapolis are investing in six social media influencers, with large local audiences, to help get their message out and prevent riots during the murder trial of a fired police officer. The Minneapolis city council on Friday approved $ 1,181,500 for communication with the community during the trial.
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The city said the six influencers will intentionally target Black, Native American, Somali, Hmong and Latinx communities with their messages during the trial. Each influencer will receive a lump sum of $ 2,000.
In a full statement from the Minneapolis City Council, they said:
The City is working with social media partners to share public information with cultural communities and to help dispel potential misinformation during upcoming trials of former officers involved in the George Floyd murder. The aim is to “improve access to information to communities that do not generally follow mainstream information sources or city communication channels and / or that do not consume information in English. It is also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the City and the communities. Recommendations that social media messengers should join in come from the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations staff. Agreements with social media partners have not been finalized. The City meets the procurement requirements for the selection and contracting processes. “
Some activists and lawyers are worried about this decision of the council.
Toussaint Morrison is an activist with a strong social media influencer himself, with over 11,000 users on Instagram. He uses his platform to educate the community. He is worried about the prejudices behind the information that will come from an influencer funded by the city.
“The key word here is ‘city approved’,” said Morrison, “what do you think the message will be? It’s going to be pro-city, it’s going to be anti-protest.
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Sarah Davis is the Executive Director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis. She said the council’s decision sends a clear message.
“It really reflects the fact that they know there is a lack of trust between community and municipal institutions and it’s real, let’s be honest about it, it’s real,” Davis said.
His firm plans to offer legal expertise and questions and answers during the trial.
“What we’re really trying to do is help people understand what they’re going to see, answer questions about it,” Davis said.
While the social media Morrison tracked could make him a candidate for this new job in the city, he plans to remain an independent resource during the Chauvin trial.
“I don’t think they will contact me,” Morrison said, “I hope they don’t because I don’t want them to waste their time.”
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City council plans to discuss more details about the new positions in a public briefing online Monday at 10 a.m.