The 17-year-old girl who videotaped George Floyd’s arrest has been honored with a PEN America Courage Award
Minneapolis high school senior Darnella Fraser witnessed the arrest of Floyd, 46, on charges of using a counterfeit $20 bill this May. Footage captured by Fraser showed Floyd being pinned to the ground and former police officer Derek Chauvin pushing his knee around his neck, ignoring the man’s words that he couldn’t breathe. Eventually, Floyd lost consciousness and died.
The recording, which Fraser then shared online, has been viewed by millions of people. Floyd’s unfair treatment sparked protests around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and eventually led to Chauvin’s arrest, as well as the firing of the three other officers involved in the incident. The 17-year-old received her award at a virtual gala hosted by the literary and human rights organization PEN America last week.
Fraser was one of many who were honored at the event, including other activists, artists and former President Barack Obama. PEN America described Fraser as “enterprising and fearless,” and CEO Suzanne Nossel praised the teen’s “exceptional courage.” “With only a cell phone and her own courage, Darnella changed the course of history in this country by starting a courageous movement to demand an end to systemic racism and police violence,” Nossel said. “Without Darnella’s fortitude and her willingness to risk her own safety and well-being, we may never have learned the truth about the murder of George Floyd. We are proud to honor her with this award for her exceptional courage.”