A Minneapolis-area teacher on Monday chained herself to the fence outside the courthouse where former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial is taking place, telling local reporters she is seeking justice for George Floyd‘s death.
Kaia Hirt braved freezing Minneapolis temperatures overnight after she chained herself to the fencing that surrounds the Hennepin County Government Center. Signs posted all around her on the courthouse security fence call for protesters to write the names of police brutality victims on locks that have been latched to the fence. Wearing several layers of clothing and a heavy blanket, Hirt told WCCO-TV Monday night that she is raising awareness for social injustice caused by police, citing nationwide incidents similar to Floyd’s death in police custody.
Hirt has not indicated how long she will remain chained to the fencing, but local reporters said she received some food from fellow activists.
“No one is listening and no one is making the changes, and I’m really sick and tired of no one trying to fix this,” Hirt told WCCO, noting incidents of racial injustice involving police across the country.
Opening statements began Monday in Chauvin’s trial inside the courthouse. The former Minneapolis police officer faces murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the May 25, 2020, incident that left Floyd dead. Hirt demanded accountability from both police and officials.
“I would like Governor [Tim] Walz, Mayor [Jacob] Frey and [St. Paul Mayor Melvin] Carter to meet with the families and allow them to voice their concerns and their needs,” Hirt told KSTP-TV on Monday. “If they want to be leaders of this state and these large cities, they need to do better.”
Hirt is an English teacher at Champlin Park High School, according to the Brooklyn Park school’s website, and has taught there since 1998. Hirt, who has said she took time off to be a “stay-at-home parent” years ago, told the local CBS Minnesota news station that one of her daughters expressed concern that her safety could be in jeopardy.
Her daughter questioned if she could get sick from the cold overnight weather or was in danger from potential conflict outside the courthouse. Temperatures in Minneapolis plummeted from the 40s down into the 20s overnight Monday as Hirt remained chained to the fence.
“My one daughter is like begging me to come home. Hearing that fear in her voice, like, ‘Is something bad going to happen to you?'” Hirt told WCCO-TV. “We’re making the world a better place.”
One of locks on the fence behind Hirt featured the name of Travis Jordan, a 36-year-old who was fatally wounded by two Minneapolis police officers last November. Neither of the two officers involved in the deadly incident were charged by Hennepin County prosecutors.
Newsweek reached out to officials at the Hennepin County Government Center for comment about the ongoing protests there but did not hear back before publication.