The Minneapolis City Council Friday approved a plan to pay social media “influencers” cash to spread city-approved messages during the trial of former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer Derek Chauvin.
“The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously Friday to approve a $1 million communications and de-escalation plan that involves partnering with community leaders, local media and social media influencers during Chauvin’s trial set to begin in March, as well the August trial of three other former officers charged in [George] Floyd’s death,” Fox News reported.
“The social media influencers, whose contracts have yet to be finalized, will be paid $2,000 each to share ‘city-generated and approved messages’ targeting Black, Native American, Somali, Hmong and Latinx communities,” the report continued. “The effort is meant to dispel misinformation and avoid the unrest sparked by Floyd’s death last year, inclouding [sic] violence and looting.”
The city has been scrambling to prepare for Chauvin’s trial, which begins on March 8. It is expecting more violence, after summer-long riots in 2020.
Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge, as well as others, for his alleged role in Floyd’s death last year. Now-infamous video footage showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back, though Floyd’s autopsy showed that he had potentially-deadly levels of illicit narcotics in his system when his death occurred.
Floyd’s death set off a summer of nationwide rioting and looting, most of which was explained away by the mainstream press.
Now, the city is preparing for the high-profile trial, and attempting to find support from law enforcement entities from outside the city.
MPD began 2021 with 200 fewer police officers than it did in 2020. Several officers accepted early retirement packages, and others remain on long-term leave.
The City Council recently voted to spend $6.4 million recruiting new police officers to the force, as outside agencies balked at sending MPD reinforcements for the Chauvin trial over what they viewed to be anti-police rhetoric from local and federal officials.
Three police organizations representing more than 10,000 police officers, 300 police chiefs, and 87 county sheriff’s offices sent a letter to the Minnesota House of Representatives in February saying they were unsure whether they would answer the call for additional security during Chauvin’s trial.
“Our members remain concerned, however, that no matter what legislation is passed, the response for mutual aid will not be as robust as the public may expect,” the letter said. “Our members’ concern is due to the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), whose congressional district covers Minneapolis, called MPD “rotten to the root” and defended the idea of “dismantling” the police department in an interview with CNN.
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