Her name is Darnella Frazier. Age 17, she was at the site of the murder of George Floyd that May 2020 Memorial Day with her nine-year-old sister to buy snacks at the market here. When she saw Floyd being suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer, the offensive nature of it caused her to pull out her smart phone and start filming. Her video proved to be the most decisive, irrefutable evidence that led to the swift justice levied by the jury in the case this week, that officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three murder charges filed against him.
Yes, it was murder, bloodless but bloody murder still, and thanks to Ms. Frazier, not only the jury in the case, but the entire nation watched a murder by a sanctioned official take place in broad daylight in a major U.S. city, not as an impulsive act but one that took over nine minutes to achieve. It turned the nation’s stomachs and millions onto the streets in ongoing protests that, among other things, contributed to the movement to remove the worst president in U.S. history last fall.
The murder was not the first or the most egregious. Now we are near the 100th anniversary of the race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when 36 Black citizens were killed by hundreds of white supremacist rioters who flattened a burgeoning Black neighborhood because some Black leaders had dared show up at City Hall to deter a lynching. Our new Attorney General, Merrick Garland, went there last week to commemorate that incident as well as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by white supremcists that killed 169 innocents. He’d prosecuted that case. He became deeply moved when an ABC reporter asked him to relate those incidents to his own family’s fleeing from Nazis that wound up murdering six million Jews. It’s the same hatred, he said.
Since the 1876 ruling against federal forces being deployed to protect Blacks in the post-Civil War south, countless incidents involving official entities against Black people have occurred in the U.S.
This was set to be chalked up as just one more. As Jake Tapper of CNN reported, the Minneapolis Police Department’s public account of Floyd’s death was headlined this way: ‘Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” The report said, “Police responded to a report of a forgery in progress,” and when the suspect “physically resisted officers, officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. The officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died a short time after.”
But for the brave Ms. Frazier, end of story.
How many of us would defy an official who would aggressively bark at us to turn off the camera? Hopefully now, a lot fewer of us. We should all gain strength from Ms. Frazier’s bravery.