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Teen who recorded George Floyd’s murder gets special Pulitzer citation

Teen who recorded George Floyd's murder gets special Pulitzer citation

The teen who used her cellphone to record former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd last year received a special citation Friday from the Pulitzer Prize Board for her “transformative” footage seen around the world.

Darnella Frazier, then 17, has said she was having a “normal” day May 25, 2020, while walking with her cousin to a corner store — before witnessing and taping Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. The then-cop killed the handcuffed black man, who had been accused of trying to pass a counterfeit bill.

Mindy Marqués, co-chair of the Pulitzer board, said in a video announcing its annual awards that 2020 was “unlike any other in the history of journalism,” citing the global pandemic, a “racial reckoning” and the bitter November US presidential election.

“The Floyd story in particular highlighted not only the essential role of journalists, but the increasing importance of ordinary citizens in the quest for truth and justice,” Marqués said during the 2021 prize announcement before noting Frazier’s special citation.

Darnella Frazier's footage was deemed “transformative” by the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Darnella Frazier’s footage was deemed “transformative” by the Pulitzer Prize Board.
Instagram

Marqués said the 18-year-old woman’s harrowing cellphone footage “jolted viewers and spurred protests” against police brutality, beginning in Minneapolis and quickly spreading across the US and ultimately worldwide.

Frazier's video lasted about 10 minutes.
Frazier’s video lasted about 10 minutes.
Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP vi

Frazier’s special citation — noted at the end of Friday’s announcement marking the board’s 105th year of the prizes in journalism, books, drama and music — applauded the teen for “courageously recording” Floyd’s murder.

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The viral footage Frazier posted to Facebook highlighted the “crucial role of citizens in journalist’s quest for truth and justice,” the Pulitzer Prize Board said.

The 10-minute video Frazier recorded is still visible on her profile but has a “sensitive content” warning on it.

“They killed him right in front of cup foods over south on 38th and Chicago!!” Frazier wrote in the history-altering post alongside two broken-heart emojis. “No type of sympathy #POLICEBRUTALITY”

Prosecutors are seeking a 30-year prison sentence for Chauvin, who was convicted in April of murdering Floyd. The former cop’s sentencing is set for June 25.

Frazier, who broke down in court while testifying at Chauvin’s trial, recalled the day that forever changed her life on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder in May.

“I was only 17 at the time, just a normal day for me walking my 9-year-old cousin to the corner store, not even prepared for what I was about to see, not even knowing my life was going to change on this exact day in those exact moments … it did,” Frazier wrote in her most recent Facebook post. “It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America.”

Frazier said the “weight and trauma” of witnessing Floyd’s police-custody killing had stayed with her a year later.

“It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I used to be,” Frazier wrote on May 25. “A part of my childhood was taken from me.”

The National Association of Black Journalists praised Frazier for her Pulitzer award, tweeting that she “helped change the world.”

Frazier and her publicist did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment from The Post on Friday.

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About the author

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Raymond Hicks

With a knack for storytelling, Raymond started The Madison Leader Gazette about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the US & World section, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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