Darnella Frazier will be honored by the human rights group PEN America for documenting the police killing of George Floyd. The 17-year-old will receive the 2020 PEN/Benenson Courage Award during the organization’s virtual gala celebration on December 8.
“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,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said.
“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."
On May 25, Frazier was walking to a nearby convenience store when she saw police officers attempting to apprehend Floyd. Immediately, Frazier whipped out her phone to capture the encounter on camera. Floyd eventually died after former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck fore more than eight minutes. Video of the incident circulated throughout social media sparking protests worldwide.
In the months following the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, there has been an increased awareness regarding policing globally. Most recently, citizens in Nigeria took to the streets to protest against the country's Special Anti-Robbery Unit. As the tragic killings of Black people at the hands of police continue, many have elected to do what Frazier has done by recording the graphic incidents.
“With courage and clear-eyed resolve, Darnella bore witness to a critical truth at great personal and emotional cost—and our country is in her debt,” PEN America Board of Trustees President Jennifer Egan said.
Frazier will receive her award virtually on December 8 alongside former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
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