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World City scraps influencer plan for George Floyd trial

15:22  02 march  2021
15:22  02 march  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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A plan to pay social media influencers to post "city-approved" messages ahead of the trial of a former police officer over his role in the death of George Floyd has been scrapped.

a vase filled with pink flowers on a table: George Floyd's death sparked huge protests against racism and police killings of black Americans © AFP George Floyd's death sparked huge protests against racism and police killings of black Americans

Officials in Minneapolis planned to pay six influencers $2,000 each.

But some questioned the plan, saying it reflected a lack of trust between communities and city officials.

The city apologised and said the plan would be abandoned.

Following the backlash, officials were sent an email saying the plan had been scrapped. The message, viewed and published by ABC News, said: "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."

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a close up of a man with a beard looking at the camera: Derek Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 © Reuters Derek Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020

The death of George Floyd sparked global protests and calls for police reform, spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, who is charged with the second-degree murder of George Floyd, is due to start on 8 March.

The influencer plan, which was part of a $1m communication budget for the trial, was designed to reach "communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communication channels".

But some questioned the need for it and asked what the phrase "city-approved" would actually mean.

"It really reflects that they know there's a lack of trust between community and city institutions and that's real," Sarah Davis, executive director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis told CBS.

And activist and social media influencer Toussaint Morrison told the publication: "The key word here is 'city-approved'. What do you think the message is going to be? It's going to be pro-city, it's going to be anti-protest."

The city has this week been preparing for protests, putting up barbed wire fences around the courthouse, city hall and county jail.

Sketches show drama of Rodney King trial .
The George Floyd trial comes 30 years since another influential police brutality case.The trial and subsequent acquittal of the officers involved sparked violent riots in a community that felt there had been no sense of accountability. The outcry eventually forced changes to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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