Darnella Frazier did not know her life was going to change on May 25, 2020. That was the day the then 17-year-old recorded the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Her video of former police officer Derek Chauvin for pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine excruciating minutes, not only led to his conviction, but also resulted in a global movement for racial reckoning.
Her work was honored on Friday with a Pulitzer Prize special citation “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,” per CNN. The death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world were one of the biggest stories of 2020.
Frazier testified at Chauvin’s trial in late March and revealed that the events that day haunted her for months. She agonized over Floyd’s last breaths and kept “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.” But she does realize that “it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he (Chauvin) should have done.”
Besides the Pulitzer Prize board, so many have recognized her heroic efforts. Her lawyer Seth Cobin continues to sing her praises. “She had no idea she would witness and document one of the most important and high-profile police murders in American history,” he told the StarTribune. “If it wasn’t for her bravery, presence of mind, and steady hand, and her willingness to post the video on Facebook and share her trauma with the world, all four of those police officers would still be on the streets, possibly terrorizing other members of the community.”
For Frazier, now 18, the verdict in the Chauvin trial in April 2021 was a bittersweet reminder of how May 25, 2020, changed everything. “THANK YOU George Floyd we did it!!,” she wrote on Facebook, “justice has been served.”
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