Pulitzer Award Given To George Floyd's Video-Evidence Teenage Witness

Em Unravelling

Darnella Frazier is recognized by the Pulitzer boardNBC News

It was a story that rocked the world and defined 2020 for many, many people. When George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin, the events that unfolded around his death were calmly recorded in video footage that would later prove crucial to the whole investigation and subsequent conviction of the murderer for his actions.

And that crucial video was shot by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, who on Friday was awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer board - the board responsible for highlighting high-quality journalism and issuing prestigious prizes to the best in the field.

Now 18 years old, Frazier is Black herself and has said that since that despite the trauma caused to her personally by witnessing Floyd's tragic demise, she is proud that she was able to record the vital footage. "I didn't know this man from a can of paint, but I knew his life mattered. I knew that he was in pain....It changed me. It changed how I view life," Frazier said on her Instagram account on the anniversary of the tragedy.

Self-possessed and articulate, Frazier testified at the trial as well as supplying her phone video, and it's clear in hindsight that her role was utterly crucial to the whole case and to securing a conviction. The journalist Ann Marie Lipinski tweeted during the trial saying just that:

[T]hinking of young Darnella Frazier. There is no case without her. The video record she made is one of the most important civil rights documents in a generation. - Ann Marie Lipinski

Now, her award from the Pulitzer board honors not only Frazier's brave role in bringing Floyd's murderer to justice (the Minneapolis jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter after he knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds) but also the fact that when her video spread around the world it served a crucial purpose: it highlighted in stark, unignorable detail the horrific, entrenched injustice against people of color that is endemic in the United States and particularly among the police force.

It sparked worldwide protests, demonstrations, and calls for racial justice and its effects are still being felt. That piece of raw, unedited footage, recorded by a 17-year-old girl outside Cup Foods that fateful day, has had a far-reaching and hopefully long-lasting impact on the way the police treat people of color in the States and beyond.

And the Pulitzer board have recognized this, giving the award to Frazier specifically for her courage. She certainly deserves this honor.

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A lover of horizons, hills, and words. Likes to write about uncomfortable things because too many people steer round those parts of life.


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