Minneapolis Reconsiders, Drops Program To Pay Social Media Influencers During Chauvin Trial
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 16: Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Art Knight speaks with people gathered near a crime scene on June 16, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minneapolis Police Department has been under increased scrutiny by residents and elected officials after the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minneapolis, Minnesota, has already dropped a planned program to pay six social media influencers from the city’s minority communities to spread messages from city officials and to counter “misinformation” during Derek Chauvin’s murder trial next week after an extreme backlash.

The Daily Wire reported just Monday morning that the City Council had approved a $1 million grant for a “community engagement” effort aimed at preventing unrest.

“The Minneapolis City Council has unanimously approved paying six social media influencers to spread city-approved messaging and updates throughout the upcoming murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged in George Floyd’s death. On Friday, the council approved $1,181,500 for communication with the community during the trial,” according to CBS.

The effort was designed to be the first project in an ongoing effort to quell unrest and the spread of misinformation in communities that the City Council believes have only limited access to reliable news.

“Just $12,000 of that money will go to paying influencers during Chauvin’s trial,” The Daily Wire noted. “The rest will go to seed a long-term community engagement program that facilitates communication between city officials and community leaders and creates an information pipeline ‘can be activated during periods of heightened tension.'”

But the program met, almost immediately, with pushback, particularly from the community it was designed to serve. Community organizers insisted the effort was unnecessary and that the influencers would be untrustworthy, anyway, given that they were required to post “city-generated messages” that included information approved by Minneapolis city officials.

“If somebody endorses something you need to make sure that that’s what they actually believe no matter how much you can get paid for something,” one community organizer told local media. “This is their opportunity to gain trust with the community, with these influencers, with different communities and they have to be 100% transparent if this is going to work.”

Others suggested that the million dollars Minneapolis planned to spend on the project would be better put to use in those communities directly.

Monday afternoon, Minneapolis announced that it had shelved the project.

“The City of Minneapolis announced Monday it is dropping its plan to pay social media influencers to push out the city’s messaging during trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd,” Minneapolis’ Fox affiliate reported. “Monday’s announcement came in a public safety preparations meeting one week ahead of the trial, which is scheduled to begin with jury selection on Monday. March 8.’

“We will not pursue the cultural social media partners,” said City of Minneapolis Director of Neighborhood and Community Relations David Rubedor, according to Fox. “When we make a mistake, we will acknowledge that and we will do better.”

Derek Chauvin’s trial is expected to begin on March 8. The former Minneapolis police officer is facing second-degree murder charges in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin’s actions, which were captured on video and which included kneeling on Floyd’s neck for a total of nine minutes, were determined to be the proximate cause of Floyd’s death and sparked a national movement against racism and police brutality.

In Minneapolis, what began as a protest quickly descended into a riot. The city now faces a nearly $500 million bill for damages sustained over the summer of 2020.

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