One teenager’s actions could be the reason Derek Chauvin is officially behind bars. Incredible instincts got Darnella Frazier to swiftly record the tragic events on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was killed by a police officer.
According to CNN, it was Frazier’s quick thinking and bravery that helped convict Chauvin of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter. Though Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, there might not have been sufficient evidence to convict him of the charges.
With Frazier’s handheld recording of the horrific moment, though, Chauvin’s conviction was possible.
The teen, whose recording influenced a large part of the case, took to social media to express her relief at yesterday’s verdict. “I just cried so hard,” she announced on Facebook. “This last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof.”
Activists shared in Darnella’s worries, anxious to hear whether Chauvin would receive the justice so many people believed he deserved.
Though justice for Floyd was on the minds of Americans, so was the possibility of riots and extreme unrest throughout major cities. Shop owners boarded windows and police readied for potential violence and protests.
Maxine Waters, a Congresswoman from California, made comments in support of confrontation and protest if the Chauvin trial didn’t end in a murder conviction. Then, on Tuesday at around 5:00 p.m. EST, the United States held its breath.
CNN reported that Darnella Frazier’s recording was the longest and clearest bystander video of George Floyd’s death. The 17-year-old kept filming despite the horrible scene playing out in front of them.
“I heard George Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe, please, get off of me’ … and crying for him mom,” Frazier testified during Chauvin’s trial. “He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him.”
Sadly, it was. Still, Frazier kept recording, and now praise and admiration for her actions have flooded social media. “I can’t reply to all of your beautiful comments as I wish to,” Darnella wrote in her Facebook feed. but THANK YOUall of you! The support I had since day one carried me a long way so thank you all again, thank you .”
Praise for the teen’s actions has come from many places. Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrellson said that “the sad thing is if it hadn’t been for that 17-year-old girl Darnella, it would have been another black man that was killed by the police … and they would have said, ‘Oh, it was drugs, oh it was this.’”
“We would never have had the story we would have,” Harrellson continued. “And wouldn’t be here today talking.”
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also thanked Frazier and admitted that “taking that video” might have been “the only reason that Derek Chauvin will go to prison.”
The video also led to the firing of three other officers who were present during Floyd’s death, as well as a ban on police chokeholds. It could also be the defining factor in sparking the global racial justice movement.
Oprah Winfrey joined many other Americans who thanked Frazier, as well as the jury that convicted Chauvin.
Oprah was “relieved” to hear the news that justice would be served. She is “grateful to the witnesses and their testimonies” as well as to “Darnella Frazier” and to “every Juror for seeing and acknowledging what the world saw on that tape.”
The United States will be changed by that video and by Derek Chauvin’s conviction. President Joe Biden said that it was “a step forward” for the country. “It was a murder in the full light of day,” he said. “It ripped the blinders off the whole world to see. Systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul.”
Without Frazier’s video the present conversations could have been extremely different.