The killing of George Floyd with a police officer’s knee in his neck shocked the country and sparked protests all over the world.
However, if it wasn’t for 17-year-old Darnella Frazier’s heroic efforts to record the fatal encounter, it’s possible Floyd’s story would not have received international attention and sparked change. She is now being honoured with an award for her courage.
According to The Associated Press, Frazier is receiving the PEN/Benenson Courage Award. Suzanne Nossel, PEN America CEO, said in a statement “With nothing more than a cell phone and sheer guts, Darnella changed the course of history in this country, sparking a bold movement demanding an end to systemic anti-Black racism and violence at the hands of police.”
Nossel also added, “Darnella Frazier took an enormous amount of flak in the wake of releasing the video. People were accusing her of being in it for the money, or for being famous, or were asking why she didn’t intervene. And it was just left this way. We wanted to go back and recognize and elevate this singular act.”
The event will take place May 19, six days before the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.
Fraizer has rarely spoken out since May 25, but shortly after George Floyd’s death, she wrote on Facebook, according to the BBC, “If it wasn’t for me, four cops would’ve still had their jobs, causing other problems. My video went worldwide for everyone to see and know.”
On May 25, Frazier was walking her nine-year-old cousin to a corner store when she saw Floyd being pulled out of a car by police officers. That’s when she began filming former police officer Derek Chauvin and Floyd, who he pinned under his knee for more than eight minutes.
In June, Chauvin was charged while the three other officers involved in Floyd’s death — J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Lane — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. All four officers were terminated from the Minneapolis Police Department.
The four men are now all out on bail. Chauvin is reportedly allowed to leave the state of Minnesota due to “safety concerns.” The trial for all four men is currently scheduled for March 2021. It has not yet been determined if all four will be tried together, or separately.