Meet Darnella Frazier, the Teen Being Called a Hero for Her Role in George Floyd’s Case

Darnella Frazier was 17 years old when she recorded George Floyd's death. After Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder, stars including Oprah Winfrey and Kerry Washington thanked the teen.

By Lindsay Weinberg Apr 21, 2021 1:32 AMTags
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Even if you don't recognize Darnella Frazier's name, you've likely watched the video she recorded on her phone on May 25, 2020.

Frazier was just 17 years old when she witnessed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. She and her 9-year-old cousin were walking to the Cup Foods convenience store, when they saw former police officer Derek Chauvin and three others arresting Floyd. She used her phone to record Floyd's death and uploaded the video to Facebook, which sparked worldwide protests last summer. 

Nearly a year later, a jury found Chauvin guilty of murder. He was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday, April 20.

Frazier, now 18, has been heralded as a hero both for her foresight to record the video and for her bravery in taking the stand as a witness in the trial. 

After the jury presented its verdict, Frazier shared her joy on Facebook. "I just cried so hard. This last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof," she wrote. "But to know GUILTY ON ALL 3 CHARGES !!! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. George Floyd we did it!! justice has been served." 

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She said during her testimony in court that she regretted not intervening more during the arrest, as Floyd was "terrified, scared, begging for his life." 

"It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life," she said, according to The New York Times. "But it's like, it's not what I should have done, it's what [Chauvin] should have done."

Darnella Frasier/Facebook/Courtesy Ben Crump Law

Frazier explained, "When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they're all Black... I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends." 

On April 20, celebrities and social media users alike praised her heroism and quick thinking. Oprah Winfrey said she was "Grateful for Darnella Frazier." Kerry Washington wrote on Twitter, "Darnella Frazier is a hero. Her bravery in that moment must never be forgotten. We lift you up Darnella."

President Barack Obama's former adviser, Valerie Jarrett, said, "History should remember the incredibly 17 year old Darnella Frazier who had the strength and composure to capture the murder of #georgefloyd on video. Without her video there may never have been #justice."

Comments also came flooding in on her own Facebook status. One person wrote, "I hope you know that you have changed the course of history, young woman." Another said, "Without you, it would've never ignited the rocket that is now a guilty verdict." 

Rachel Luna/Getty Images/Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images/Karwai Tang/Getty Images

In December, she received the 2020 PEN/Benenson Courage Award from the nonprofit PEN America. Acclaimed director Spike Lee presented her with the prize, saying, "I'm so proud of my sister. She documented the murder of George Floyd, our brother. King Floyd. And that footage reverberated around this God's earth."

The Oscar winner added, "And people took to the streets all over this earth. Not just the United States of America and it wasn't just Black people either. Everybody took to the streets. My sister, I commend you and you deserve this award."

After the ceremony, Frazier wrote on Instagram, "THANK YOU for blessing me with such an award. it [meant] a lot to me!... I express the HEAVIEST load of gratitude." 

Beyond her work as an activist, she's also a dog mom to Journi. When she received the pup as a Christmas gift in 2020, she wrote on Instagram, "I love her already." 

A GoFundMe page has raised more than half a million dollars for Frazier's "peace and healing." 

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