Fierce

17-Year-Old Teen Who Filmed George Floyd’s Murder is Receiving an Award for Her Bravery

Photos: PEN America handout photo via Darnella Frazier; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old bystander who recorded the death of George Floyd on her cell phone, is receiving an award for her bravery.

The award, called the PEN/Benenson Courage Award, is given to someone who exhibits exceptional bravery under the hardest of circumstances. Previous recipients include Anita Hill and the student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Photo: PEN America handout photo via Darnella Frazier

PEN America’s CEO Suzanne Nossel explained their decision to choose Frazier 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.”

“With remarkable steadiness, Darnella carried out the expressive act of bearing witness, and allowing hundreds of millions around the world to see what she saw,” she continued. “Without Darnella’s presence of mind and readiness to risk her own safety and wellbeing, we may never have known the truth about George Floyd’s murder. We are proud to recognize her exceptional courage with this award.”

While millions of people have seen the horrifying video in which George Floyd was slowly killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, not everyone knows who the person behind the camera was.

Frazier is an average 17-year-old high school student who enjoys playing volleyball and basketball. She loves fashion, singing, and debate. She was walking her cousin to the store when she saw the terrible scene in front of her that would eventually end up changing the world.

“I was the one that was recording the whole thing,” Frazier later said through tears in a NowThis video after re-visiting the scene the day after Floyd’s death. “I’ve seen him die. I posted the video last night, and it just went viral. And everybody’s asking me how I feel. I don’t know how to feel ’cause it’s so sad, bro. They killed this man and I was right there. I was five feet away. It’s so traumatizing.”

Frazier later faced intense criticism on the internet for not intervening when she saw Floyd being killed. At the height of the backlash, Frazier was forced to take to her Facebook page to defend herself.

“I don’t expect anyone who wasn’t placed in my position to understand why and how I feel the way that I do !! MIND YOU I am a minor ! 17 years old, of course I’m not about to fight off a cop I’m SCARED wtf,” she wrote. “The police most definitely would’ve swept it under the rug with a cover up story….That could’ve been one of your loved ones and you would want to see the truth as well.”

“Darnella Frazier took an enormous amount of flak in the wake of releasing the video,” Nossel recently told The Associated Press. “People were accusing her of being in it for the money, or for being famous, or were asking why she didn’t intervene…We wanted to go back and recognize and elevate this singular act.”

Through a family representative, Frazier said she was “humbled” and “grateful” to receive the award.

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