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.
Officials in Minneapolis had planned to pay six influencers $2,000 each.
It was part of a wider effort to reach “communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communication channels”.
But some said it had reflected a “lack of trust”.
The city has 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.”
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 was part of a wider $1m communication budget for the trial.
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.