Darnella Frazier, the then 17-year-old teen who filmed the arrest of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize special citation.
The 2021 recipients of a Pulitzer Prize were announced on Friday afternoon, with many recipients of the Prize's journalism category focusing on the George Floyd protests of 2020 and coverage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Frazier filmed the infamous arrest via cellphone, capturing former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin placing the black man under his knee for an extended length of time while Floyd said "I can't breathe."
The footage of the arrest sparked protests around the world.
The Pulitzer Prize board, while issuing the citation, stated that Frazier had won "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."
Four-time former Pulitzer juror Roy Peter Clark, amongst many others called for Frazier to be a recipient of the prize, despite not falling under traditional boundaries for recipients.
"It would be an unusual prize, to be sure. The material and the creator fall outside the traditional boundaries. At 18, Darnella Frazier would be the youngest winner in history. The prizes in various categories of photojournalism since 1942 have gone to still photographers, not videographers. Frazier was working for no news organization, acting instead as a concerned citizen within her own community in the face of a brutal injustice," wrote the juror.
The issuance of the prize calls into question what counts as journalism in an age where everyone possesses a cell phone and are capable of taking video and photos of any incident witnessed by bystanders.
In the case of the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6, at least eight defendants, according to the Associated Press, have identified themselves as a journalist or a documentary filmmaker. "The Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January created a trove of self-incriminating evidence, thoroughly documenting their actions and words in videos and social media posts. Now some of the camera-toting people in the crowd are claiming they were only there to record history as journalists, not to join a deadly insurrection," wrote the Associated Press.
26-year-old John Earle Sullivan, a far-left Black Lives Matter activist, attended the January riot and was paid $70,000 total from left-wing outlets CNN and NBC for the self-styled journalist's footage of the fatal Ashli Babbitt shooting. Sullivan is facing criminal charges by federal authorities for his alleged involvement in the Capitol Hill riot, despite claiming he was there to document the events unfolding.
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