Seattle has hired a convicted pimp as a new "street czar" to help the city come up with policing alternatives after months of unrest between protesters and officers.
Andre Taylor, who once appeared in a documentary called "American Pimp", will help the city provide “urgent de-escalation” to the city's Capitol Hill area, the epicentre of recent protests, under his new contract.
As part of his role he will also come up with recommendations on community engagement and policing alternatives.
It comes after the city came under sustained criticism, including from Donald Trump, for allowing protesters to run amok in its downtown district in the wake of demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality.
Several hundred protesters occupied the Capitol Hill area for almost a month, dubbing the makeshift encampment the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ), and declaring it a police-free zone.
Taylor, who created a police-accountability organisation called Not This Time after his brother, Che Taylor, was fatally shot by Seattle police in 2016, was a vocal critic of the CHAZ and called for protesters to leave the area.
Taylor and his non-profit have now been hired on a $150,000 salary for the year to help "de-escalate the ongoing situation" in and around the area.
A spokesman for the mayor's office, Kelsey Nyland, told the Seattle Times the city had sought the contract because of the organisation's “lived experience with the criminal legal system, and their history of successful advocacy and activism on issues of policing and dismantling systemic racism”.
Taylor first gained notoriety when he featured in the 2000 documentary "American Pimp", the same year he was sentenced to more than five years in prison for prositution-related charges, including one involving an underage girl in Las Vegas.
Since moving to Seattle he has spoken about how his background has informed his activism in videos on his YouTube channel, telling viewers: “I was born from the streets; I come out of the deep darkness”.
Taylor said he had come up with the "Street Czar" title himself, telling the Seattle Times that his background would help him engage with the community more effectively than other city officials.
“Not too many people can go talk to gangbangers in their territory, and then go talk to the government in their territory,” he told the newspaper.
However, some activists have accused Taylor of betraying them after urging demonstors in the CHAZ to demand millions from the city and later appearing at a press conference with the mayor to tell them to shut down the area - reportedly the same day he was given his six-figure contract.