The City of Minneapolis has scrapped a plan to pay social media influencers to post and share information during former police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial.
According to an email obtained by ABC News, Minneapolis’ Communications Director Greta Bergstrom and Director of Community Relations David Rubedor confirmed plans to cancel to the initiative.
“While we believe in and support the intention of this recommendation, we have seen the impact has caused harm. We are sorry and acknowledge that we will have to work to repair the harm that has been caused,” the email stated. “At this point, we will NOT move forward with this strategy.”
The initial plan was for Minneapolis to form paid partnerships with “community members who have a large social media presence to share city generated and approved messages. According to the proposal, six social media influencers would be paid $2,000 each to share information during the trial.
City officials believed the plan would help curb protests, riots, and anger. However, the city received significant backlash from its residents who said the posts could influence opinions in the trial while others accused Minneapolis of purchasing a narrative.
“You buy people to tell you that your emotions aren’t valid, or that you should stay home and not protest, or that certain things are more important than justice,” Toussaint Morrison, a community activist told ABC. “So I really feel that them trying to buy the narrative from social media influencers is really disappointing.”
Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for restraining George Floyd for just under nine minutes, resulting in Floyd’s death. The incident, along with the death of Breonna Taylor, sparked a global resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Three other officers, Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung, and Tou Thao, were on the scene with Chauvin and have been charged with lesser offenses. All three have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All three will face trial in August while Chauvin’s trial will begin next Monday.