A Baltimore mother identified as Toya Graham was caught on camera the moment she caught him throwing rocks at police and rioting. She yanked her 16-year-old son off the streets and repeatedly smacked him while telling him to “take that f*****g mask off.”
In an interview with CBS News, Graham explains what went down. “He gave me eye contact. And at that point, you know, not even thinking about cameras or anything like that. That’s my only son and at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray.”
“At that point, I just lost it,” said Graham. “I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.”
Graham, a single mom with six children, denounced the vandalism and violence against police officers. She said the Baltimore riots are no way to go about getting justice for Freddie Gray and that she doesn’t want that life for her son.
“He knew he was in trouble,” said Graham. “He said when ‘I seen you,’ he said, ‘ma, my instinct was to run.'”
Graham says after she got her son home they both watched news coverage of the demonstrations and riots on television. As images of her reaction started to go viral, Graham says comments started appearing on her son’s Facebook page, many in support of her.
“Friends and everybody making comments and saying you know, you shouldn’t be mad at your mother, you should give her a hug,” said Graham. The viral video also got Graham hailed as the “mom of the year” for her actions.
Graham hopes the incident will serve as a teachable moment for her son. “And by him seeing everything what’s going on I just hope, I’m not sure, but I hope that he understands the seriousness of what was going on last night.”
Graham said she sometimes has to “shield” her son from the violence outside her home because she has seen what can happen on the streets of Baltimore before.
In August of 2014, she was at her home when at least three shots were fired and a man was killed outside on the street in the middle of the night. The concerned mother checked on her children before heading outside to try to help the victim. The man died before he could be taken to the hospital and Graham was so shaken, she couldn’t even go to work the next day, according to ABC.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Tuesday that he had seen the video. “I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight,” he said.
The streets of Baltimore were calmer Tuesday as the National Guard deployed. A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remained in effect and the streets are tense to see what will go down once the curfew starts.