Minneapolis must pay six influential people on social media to help disseminate city-approved messages through the upcoming murder trial against Derek Chauvin, the ex-policeman accused of George Floyd’s death.
Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously Friday to approve a $ 1 million communications and de-escalation plan involving partnerships with community leaders, local media and social media influencers during Chauvin’s trial, which begins in March, and the trial in August. against three other former officers charged in Floyd’s death.
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Social media influencers whose contracts have not yet been finalized will be paid $ 2,000 each to share “city-generated and approved messages”
Local activists criticize the movement, arguing that the city aims to buy the narrative around the trials, eradicate free speech and protests, and turn influencers into mouthpieces for the city, the WCCO reported.
But the city of Minneapolis said in a statement that its “goal is to increase access to information for communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or urban communication channels and / or that do not use information in English,” KSTP said. “It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and community.”
The city’s communication strategy, called the Joint Information System (JIS), aims to “offer improved community services during the trial to keep people informed and safe, especially non-English and blacks, BIPOC populations (BIPOC) and small businesses that do not trust traditional media. “
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As for social media influencers, the program approved by the city council involves the city entering into “paid partnerships with community members who are considered trusted messengers and have a large presence on social media to share city-generated and approved messages.” These individuals will also support “JIS situation monitoring” to “address / remove incorrect information.”
In a separate 11-2 vote Friday, the council also approved a plan allowing Minneapolis police to enter into mutual assistance agreements with at least 14 law enforcement agencies for additional support during the trials surrounding Floyd’s death, Fox 9 Minneapolis reported. The agreements could cost up to $ 1.5 million, which could be covered by the department’s prior budget.
“Our hope is how many days we need these officers will be very short,” City Coordinator Mark Ruff said during the council meeting. “That it will be a trial where there is a peaceful expression of rights to first amendment and not destruction or other illegal activities that would require these officers to be for many days.”
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Meanwhile, Minnesota lawmakers were expected to resume negotiations over the weekend in an attempt to break a stalemate over the creation of a new $ 35 million account that could reimburse mutual assistance agencies, including during the Chauvin trial. reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
City officials are expected to hold a public briefing at 10 Monday on “plans and preparations made to ensure the safety of society” during the Chauvin trial. Election of jury begins March 8 with opening statements scheduled for March 29.
Floyd, who was black, died on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and asked that he not be able to breathe. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said more than 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the state and National Guard soldiers will be ready when the case goes to jury. Last week, the mayor declared that Minneapolis remains “open for business,” saying people should go about their lives as usual.
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But new security measures around the Hennepin County courthouse, town hall and jail – all in the heart of downtown – include three rings of concrete barriers, two topped by chain fences with a trough in between filled with razor cable rollers. The inner fence is topped with barbed wire, and windows on the ground floor of all three buildings have been boarded up, The Associated Press reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.