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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Emails released to Axios shed new light on Minneapolis' canned plan to hire "social media influencers" to share city-approved messages during the Derek Chauvin trial.

  • The backdrop: The city had planned to pay six "trusted messengers” up to $2,000 apiece to share city updates, such as road closures and other changes, and dispel misinformation during the trial.

Details: City officials discussed hiring a DJ at the Spanish-language radio station El Ray 94.9, the Snapchat account SomaliSnaps, and a soccer coach who is "connected to the young people [in the South Asian community] as well as a respectful young leader among the elders," according to hundreds of pages of internal correspondence Axios obtained via a public records request. Some additional potential partner names were redacted from our records request.

  • They also received recommendations to engage Hmong and Somali broadcast stations and a WhatsApp chat group with "nearly 100 Spanish speaking business owners on East Lake Street."
  • A city spokeswoman told Torey the WhatsApp group developed organically and would not have been included in the paid program. The DJ's involvement would have been independent of his work at the station, she added.

What happened: The plan was scrapped after news coverage and backlash online.

  • "City staff believed in the strategy and intentionally walked it back due to the harm it caused with the confusion," the spokeswoman said.

What they said: The goal was to tap people with credibility — and influential followings — to reach Black, Native American, East African, Hmong and Latino communities.

  • A staffer offered to" look into who's popping [on] the book, the 'gram and the chat" for "local and culturally relevant" influencer partners.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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Go deeper

Fed chair says he isn't concerned by Delta surge

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

One of the country's most influential economic officials doesn't anticipate that surging coronavirus cases will knock the reopening recovery off course.

What he's saying: "There has tended to be less economic implications from each [coronavirus] wave. We'll see if that's the case for the Delta variety," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter

Photo: Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company's handling of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard workers are framing the actions as part of a bigger movement meant to have lasting change in the industry and its culture.

Companies deploy tech to prevent retail crime

Customers in a Home Depot in Pleasanton, California, in February 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Retailers have a new edge for fighting theft: They're using technology to disable stolen goods — from iPhones to Black & Decker drills — and render them useless.

Why it matters: Organized retail crime has a considerable affect on retailers every year, costing them an average of $719,000 per $1 billion dollars in sales, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.

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