Baltimore Mom Who Pulled Son Out of Riots Speaks Out

by Alex Ungerman 10:40 AM PDT, April 29, 2015
Photo: CBS News

The mother everyone is calling "mom of the year" is sharing her story.

After video of her publicly disciplining her 16-year-old son and pulling him out of the riots in Baltimore went viral, Toya Graham -- a single mom of six -- is speaking out about the experience.

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Graham first spoke to CBS News about discovering her son in the protests.

"I see my son walking across the street with a hoodie and a mask," said Graham. "At that point I just lost it."

"That's my only son," continued Graham. "At the end of the day, I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray."

Freddie Gray, of course, is the 25-year old African American man who died while in police custody on April 19. Following his funeral, protests occurred, as well as Monday night's riots -- resulting in over 200 arrests, a reported 144 vehicle fires, 15 structural fires, and at least 15 injured officers.

Graham shared more details from her son and that day while on CBS This Morning.

When asked if she felt like a hero mom, Graham simply responded, "I don't."

"My intention was to get my son, and have him be safe," said Graham.

"He has been in trouble before," Graham admitted of her son. "He knows right from wrong. He's just like the other teenagers that doesn't have the perfect relationship with police officers in Baltimore city."

"But you will not be throwing rocks and stones at police officers," added Graham.

While her son didn't explicitly apologize, Graham feels her son learned an important lesson from this experience.

"He didn't say he was sorry, but he was coming upstairs and he was telling me things his friends were saying," recalled Graham, "You know, 'Michael, you need to give your mother a hug. Mother's Day is right around the corner, you need to buy her the best Mother's Day gift ever.'"

While mortified that her son would take part in the rioting, Graham understands the unrest taking place in Baltimore.

"I actually went to Freddie Gray's funeral," said Graham. "If he wanted to do that, I would have allowed him to."

"I understand the frustration the community is having," added Graham on the death of Freddie Gray. "We haven't received any information on what happened to this young guy."

"As a mother, that is just devastating to see."

As for slapping her son on national TV, Graham said she's a little worried about church this weekend.

"I thought 'Oh my God, my pastor is gonna have a fit,'" joked Graham.

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