Pulitzers give special award to Darnella Frazier, who filmed George Floyd's murder

Tanya Simon
June 12, 2021

Darnella Frazier, the teenage girl who whipped out her cell phone and recorded the police murder of George Floyd last summer, a video that rocked the nation, has received an honorary Pulitzer Prize for her courage. She later testified at Chauvin's trial, with her video proving instrumental in his conviction. If not for Frazier's actions, one of the only official records we would have had of Floyd's death was the press release Minneapolis Police published on May 25th, 2020.

"My video didn't save George Floyd", she added, "but it put his murderer away and off the streets".

Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, said that Frazier's quick-thinking in recording the incident was an important piece of documentation.

The citation went on to note how her recording worked to highlight the "crucial role of citizens in journalists' quest for truth and justice".

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It's unusual but not unprecedented for the Pulitzer Board to award citizens who capture news events; the famous photo of a firefighter cradling an infant after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was taken by Charles Porter IV, a bank credit officer, and distributed by the AP.

Frazier was also given the PEN/Benenson Courage Award past year by PEN America, a literary and human rights organization. Her video was widely shared online and led to months of protests against police brutality and systemic racism. She captured Floyd's last moments, including his repeated pleas of "I can't breathe".

Her film spurred protests for racial justice around the world and was used as evidence in the trial that convicted police officer Derek Chauvin.

"When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad, I look at my brother, my cousins, my uncles - because they are all black", she said, audibly crying. All four also face federal civil rights charges.

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