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On June 11, Frazier was awarded a Special Citation by the Pulitzer Prize Board for filming Floyd’s final moments alive on her cell phone, capturing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds outside a convenience store. Floyd's death was ruled a homicide by medical examiners. Frazier was only 17 at the time.
The prize’s board recognized Frazier “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.”
Floyd’s loved ones welcomed the announcement in a statement issued by their family attorney Ben Crump.
“The Floyd family is so pleased to see Darnella Frazier honored for her courageous humanity in documenting the murder of George Floyd,” Crump told Oxygen.com in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for her heroism which led to justice for George and sparked a historic social change."
The honor is typically reserved for professional journalists. Frazier’s inclusion in the 2021 Pulitzer class, however, highlights the emerging importance of citizen journalism as a potential tool of justice and social change, particularly in the context of police brutality.
Ida B. Wells, the Black journalist who exposed southern lynchings and white-led mob violence against Black people to an international audience in the 1890s, won a Special Citation in 2020. In 2019, singer Aretha Franklin also earned the honorary prize for her “indelible contribution to American music.”
Frazier’s video has been widely credited for triggering a racial reckoning in America. For months, fierce protests in Floyd’s name, some which spiraled into riots, rocked the U.S. The video of Floyd’s death arguably also spurred a new era of police accountability and reform efforts nationwide.
Oxygen.com wasn’t able to immediately reach Frazier for comment on Monday.
Weeks ago, the 18-year-old took to Instagram to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.
"Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I'm proud of myself, “Frazier wrote on May 25. “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."
Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second-degree murder in Floyd’s death on April 20. He’s facing decades behind bars. Prosecutors have requested a 30-year prison term. The former Minneapolis police officer is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.
“I just cried so hard,” Frazier wrote on Instagram following the verdict. “This last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof. But to know GUILTY ON ALL 3 CHARGES!!! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.”
Frazier testified at Chauvin’s trial in March. She wept on the witness stand while detailing Floyd’s death to the jury — and the impact that filming his last moments alive has had on her life.
"It wasn't right," Frazier told the court. "He was suffering. He was in pain."
In the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death, Frazier was harassed online for filming the deadly encounter instead of interjecting.
"I've stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life," Frazier added. "But it's not what I should have done; it's what [Chauvin] should have done."
Three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were also indicted in Floyd’s death. They’re awaiting trial for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.
In March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay Floyd’s family $27 million to settle a civil lawsuit related to his death.
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