(AllHipHop News) Toya Graham’s decision to forcefully remove her 16-year-old son Michael from the streets of Baltimore during the unrest on Monday turned the mother into an Internet star. A viral video of Graham smacking, pushing, and yelling at the teenager led to people calling her a hero.
Graham was one of the few parents seen actively trying to keep her child from engaging in the violence. She spoke with CBS News about why she felt the need to go get her son.
“I turn around. I look in the crowd, and my son is coming across the street with this hoodie on and a mask. He gave me eye contact,” said Graham. “And at that point, [I’m] 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.”
Many high school students took to the streets Monday afternoon to show their outrage concerning the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody. At one point people began throwing rocks and other projectiles at police officers, and some businesses in Baltimore were looted and burned down.
Graham saw Michael among some of the kids in the area. She could not believe her son was around the violence taking place.
“I was shocked. I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that,” Graham said.
Michael later told his mother when he saw her his instinct was to run away. Rather than the situation be a point of embarrassment or shame, Graham hopes her son learns something from the entire experience.
“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,” she added.
Watch Toya Graham’s interview below.