The Pulitzer Prize Board started its annual announcements for outstanding journalism Friday by issuing a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the Minneapolis teenager whose viral video of George Floyd's arrest and death played a key role in an officer's prosecution and shook the nation's consciousness about policing in the United States.
Frazier was 17 years old when on May 25, 2020, she happened upon Floyd's arrest at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, took out her cellphone and documented for more than nine minutes Floyd's death under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin.
Her viral video was a key piece of evidence during Chauvin's trial, which ended with his conviction April 20 on murder and manslaughter counts. Sentencing is June 25.
The board said it 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."
Frazier explained to the Star Tribune on the day after Floyd's death, "The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times."
As an 18-year-old, Frazier testified for the prosecution during the globally livestreamed trial and further explained her actions on that street corner on that warm Memorial Day evening.
"When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black," Frazier said in court, her voice faltering as she testified against the white defendant. "I have a Black father, I have a Black brother, I have Black friends. I look at that and I look at how it could have been one of them."
She went on to explain how being a witness to Floyd's death affected her.
"I've stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life," said a tearful Frazier. "It's not what I should have done; it's what [Chauvin] should have done."
In December, Frazier received the prestigious Benenson Courage Award from PEN America from Oscar-winning director Spike Lee in a virtual ceremony that included recognition by other notables.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482