Darnella Frazier, the teenage girl who whipped out her cell phone and filmed George Floyd’s murder last summer, received an honorary Pulitzer Prize for “courageously recording the murder of George Floyd, a video that spurred protests against police brutality around the world, highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”
Frazier, now 18, received a special commendation for her video, which “sparked worldwide protests against police brutality.” For the citation, she will be given a $15,000 prize.
In an Instagram post commemorating the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder, Frazier wrote: “Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself. If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth. I own that. My video didn’t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets.”
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When Frazier spotted Floyd pinned beneath the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin outside of a convenience store on May 25, 2020, she claimed she sensed something “wasn’t right.” Despite the fact that she didn’t know Floyd, she recognized another human being in distress. She was the only witness at the time, a high school student and Black adolescent with her cell phone camera fixed on four police officers and Floyd as he took his last breaths.
Many of the basic values of journalism were represented in the act: inflicting pain on the comfortable, casting a light on wrongdoing, giving witness on behalf of the disadvantaged, and speaking truth to power. When she testified during Chauvin’s trial earlier this year, Frazier described it as her responsibility, despite the fact that it was not her job. Frazier sensed a human responsibility and duty to film an act that felt wrong to her.
Frazier’s video became Exhibit 15, a significant piece of evidence that was shown repeatedly during the trial, during which she also gave emotional testimony and expressed regret for not doing more to aid Floyd. Her video inspired millions of people from all walks of life to go to the streets last summer, demanding a stop to the continuous murdering of Black people by police and vigilantes.
Floyd’s murder had a personal impact on Frazier, who shared her continued anguish over seeing his death on Instagram, she shares: “everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd’s death, but to actually be her is a different story.”
Photo via This is Colossal
Artists: Xena Goldman, Cadex Herrera, Greta McLain, Niko Alexander, and Pablo Hernandez