The teenager whose 2020 video recording of a US police officer kneeling on African American George Floyd's neck before he died in police custody has been awarded a 2021 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in May 2020 after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the victim’s neck even as he pleaded, “I can't breathe.”
Eighteen-year-old Darnella Frazier’s video was an important piece of evidence used in the trial of Chauvin who was found guilty in April on all charges in the murder of Floyd.
Frazier won the citation "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," according to the Pulitzer Prize Board.
“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,” said Mindy Marques, co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board, during the award ceremony on Friday.
“We want to note that the board has awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenage witness who filmed and posted the transformative video that jolted viewers and spurred protests against police brutality around the world,” Marques added.
American lawmakers and journalists and others praised Frazier, 18, and the Pulitzer Prize Committee over the move.
“Darnella Frazier is part of a proud tradition of truth tellers who helped open our nation’s eyes to injustices that inspired movements for change. Grateful for her courage and strength,” tweeted Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
“I cannot explain how important it is that the Pulitzer Prize Committee awarded its Special Citation to Darnella Frazier for the video she took of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the murderer Derek Chauvin,” New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb wrote on Twitter.
In a social media post last month commenting on the one-year anniversary of Floyd's brutal death by police, Frazier wrote, “Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself. If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth.”
Frazier, then 17-year-old, was visiting the store that Memorial Day with her younger cousin when she saw police officers restraining Floyd on the ground. She recorded the incident on her cell phone as she pleaded with them to get off Floyd, who repeatedly said he couldn't breathe.
Frazier's video of the incident went viral, drawing attention to Floyd's death and sparking mass protests against police brutality across the US and abroad.
The viral video of the incident became an emblem of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Floyd was arrested by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, after a grocery store employee reported that he had allegedly used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
In the video, Floyd was seen handcuffed with his face down on the street, pleading for his life, while the police officer stood there unfazed.
Floyd’s death reignited deep-rooted anger and outrage over police brutality toward Black Americans in the US and gave fresh impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement at the global level.