As part of a $1.2 million communication plan for the upcoming trial of a police officer accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis will turn to social media influencers to reach out to minority neighborhoods.
The city will target the black, Native American, Somali, Hmong and Hispanic communities. Each influencer will get $2,000 for the duration of the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, according to CBS.
Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial begins March 8, KARE-TV reported.
The city is hoping that social media will spread a message into places traditional media does not reach, according to KARE, which published a statement from the City Council.
“The City is collaborating with social media partners to share public information with cultural communities and to help dispel potential misinformation during the upcoming trials of the former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd.
“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. It’s also an opportunity to create more two-way communication between the City and communities.
“The recommendations for which social media messengers to partner with come from the City’s Neighborhood and Community Relations staff. The agreements with the social media partners have not been finalized. The City is adhering to procurement requirements for the selection and contracting processes,” the statement said.
“The City first collaborated with cultural social media partners prior to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis in 2018. We realized that posting information in English and other languages, such as Spanish, Hmong and Somali on our City social channels would not be enough.
“Through partnerships with community members we were able to post timely information on street closures, transit changes and other important public information on the City account in multiple languages and the partners amplified the translated messages to their own networks.
“The social media partners also were able to contact the City if they heard a rumor or a concern so that we could quickly verify the information and share out a corresponding message,” the statement said.
Some say the brand of “city-approved” limits how much the message can be trusted.
“It’s just really hard believing they will be truthful, given how they have treated our families in the past,” said Toshira Garraway, of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, according to The New York Times.
“We don’t know if we’re actually getting and receiving the truth. The State of Minnesota has broken the trust of the communities within this state,” he said,
Michelle Gross, the president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, said the program seemed more about manipulation than communication.
“I don’t think this is about dismantling falsities,” she said. “I think this is about crafting a narrative and controlling it. And I think people will see through this, frankly.”
But Lisa Bender, council president, said the city is merely trying to support community groups already spreading the word.
“This is, I think, the city acknowledging that a lot of that work is going unpaid, and that the city should step up and provide resources to help fund that,” she said.
“I think, also, when we’re communicating about this, we need to acknowledge the harm that was caused by the city in the first place, from George Floyd’s death, from actions by our Police Department that followed,” she said
She added that “not everyone in our community trusts the city as a communicator.”
Opening arguments in Chauvin’s trial are scheduled for March 29 and he faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter, according to the Associated Press. Three other officers who face charges in connection with Floyd’s death go on trial in August.
The beginning of jury selection will also be the start of protests about the trial, according to KARE-TV, which said a coalition of community groups has vowed to demonstrate against the police.
“The people demand justice for all stolen lives. Convict all killer cops,” KARE reported that a statement from the coalition said. “The murder of George Floyd by these killer police officers is a devastating example of the many lives stolen at the hands of police in our community as well as the world at large. Derek Chauvin represents what is wrong with police in Minneapolis and in this country, and now is the time to demand due justice for George Floyd and set the precedent in seeking justice for every stolen life.”
The group also objected to the security precautions taken near the courthouse where the trial will be held.
“We will not be denied, we will not move back, we will not be afraid, but we will stand up, and we will continue to protest. We will continue to take to the streets,” activist Nekema Levy-Pounds said at a Thursday rally. “These barricades, and all this fencing and barbed wire will not stop us from getting in the streets, and speaking truth to power, and demanding justice, and demanding people in our community be set free from police violence and unnecessary harassment.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.