The Pulitzer Prize Board has awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenager who shot mobile phone video of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last year.
Frazier was honoured “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”, the board said.
The Pulitzers are the most prestigious journalism awards in the US.
Frazier was 17 at the time when she encountered Floyd, who was Black, being pinned to the ground by white police officer Derek Chauvin. At 9 minutes and 29 seconds long, the viral video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest sparked protests across the world. Floyd’s death became a symbol of police brutality against people of colour and it sparked worldwide demonstrations for racial justice.
Frazier testified at Chauvin’s murder trial in March saying that the sight of Floyd on the ground compelled her to stay: “It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain.”
“I’ve stayed up apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” said Frazier. “It’s not what I should have done; it’s what [Chauvin] should have done.”
Chauvin was convicted in April of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, death of Floyd. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.
Two Indian-origin journalists were also among those who were awarded the Pulitzers. Megha Rajagopalan, a journalist at BuzzFeed, won the award the International Reporting category for her investigative reports that exposed a vast infrastructure of prisons and mass internment camps secretly built by China for detaining hundreds of thousands of Muslims in its restive Xinjiang region.
Neil Bedi, who works with the Tampa Bay Times was the other Indian-orgin journalist to win the award in the Local Reporting category, along with Kathleen McGrory.
The two scribes had done a series exposing a Sheriff’s Office initiative that used computer modelling to identify people who were believed to be future crime suspects. According to the report, about 1,000 people were monitored under the programme, including children.