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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

Exclusive: Houston mayor to lead Black mayors group

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks during a private funeral for George Floyd. Photo: Godofredo A. Vásquez/Pool/Getty Images

The mayor of the city where George Floyd was raised is taking over a group that represents 500 Black mayors in the U.S. amid national pressure to revamp police departments.

Why it matters: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will become the new president of the African American Mayors Association as municipalities across the country examine police reforms and deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Delivery industry sees biggest monthly job losses in more than 20 years

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic's biggest job winner is losing steam.

Driving the news: People who deliver packages to businesses and homes — classified as "couriers and messengers" by the Labor Department — saw the industry's biggest monthly job losses in more than 20 years in April.

FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-old adolescents, the agency announced on Monday.

Why it matters: The emergency authorization marks a critical milestone in the push to get more Americans vaccinated and fully reopen schools for in-person learning this fall.

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