Minneapolis officials will hire a team of social media influencers to send “approved messages” during the upcoming murder trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, according to reports.
The city will pay six influencers $2,000 each to relay approved information from the high-profile and potentially volatile trial when it gets underway next month, Fox News said.
The move is part of a $1 million plan approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday, as the Minnesota city braces for possible unrest in the controversial case.
“The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or city communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English,” the council said in a statement, WCCO-TV reported.
“It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the city and communities.”
Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder in Floyd’s May 25 police-custody death after viral videos of the incident went public, showing the former cop kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he is handcuffed.
Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin March 9, with opening arguments due to get underway no earlier than March 29.
There other ex-cops — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao — are due to stand trial separately on charges of aiding and abetting murder.
The case sparked global Black Lives Matter protests that in some cities sparked violent clashes with police — and Minneapolis officials now fear a resurgence of the unrest and are taking no chances.
The city has not identified the social influencers it hopes to hire, but said it is targeting social media users with large followings.
Some city activists weren’t thrilled with the council’s initiative.
“The key word here is ‘city approved,’” said community activist Toussaint Morrison, who has more than 11,000 Instagram, told WCCO.
“What do you think the message is going to be? It’s going to be pro-city. It’s going to be anti-protest.”