Bearing Witness: An Open Letter to Darnella Frazier

“Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction
Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later. At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”
        Official Report of the Minneapolis Police Department on the death of George Floyd — May 25, 2020

God has a way sometimes
of finding the right person
and equipping her with the right tool
and sending her to the right place
at the right time
to fulfill a divine mission.

It is often a person like you:
modest,
not looking to become famous
not yet old enough to vote,
perhaps not even aware of her own strength,
but prepared to pass the test.

And so it came to pass
that on May 25, 2020, at about 7 PM,
you accompanied your little cousin Judeah
to Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis
to pick up some snacks.

And as you arrived,
you saw something happening
outside the store
that you knew was not right.
You put your little cousin inside the store
and returned to the scene
and took out your cell phone camera
and started recording.

Bearing witness
for ten full minutes.
Staying steady;
staying strong;
staying focused.

I would imagine
that your arms could get pretty tired,
holding a cell phone camera like that for ten full minutes.
No matter.
You stayed steady.
You stayed strong.
You stayed focused.
You completed your mission.
You brought the truth to the world
and you brought the world
one step closer to justice.

Thank you, Darnella Frazier,
and God Bless You.

About the Poem

If I had been present at the scene of George Floyd’s murder, I would have watched in stupefied horror, and afterwards, I would have thought, “Damn! I should have recorded it. No one will believe me.” Fortunately, Darnella Frazier, 17 years old at the time, had the presence of mind to do what had to be done to bring the truth to the world.

About the Author

Pesach Rotem was born and raised in New York and now lives in Yodfat, Israel. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his J.D. from St. John’s University. His poem “Professor Hofstadter’s Brain” was nominated for a Best of the Net Award.

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