#MomoftheYear has a name! Baltimore mom Toya Graham spoke out on Tuesday, April 28, about the viral video of her yanking her teenage son Michael from the riots in the Maryland city on Monday night.
"I could see the objects being thrown at the police, and I was like... 'Oh my God, this is really happening right here with me,'" Graham recalled to CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley. "And lo and behold: I turn around and I look in this crowd, and my son is actually coming across the street with this hoodie on and a mask. At that point, I just lost it, and he gave me eye contact, and at that point – [I was] not even thinking about cameras or anything like that."
As witnessed in the talked-about clip, Graham spotted her son, nabbed him, slapped him multiple times across the head, and dragged him towards the parking lot. "I was shocked. I was angry," she said. "I was shocked because you never want to see your child out there doing that. There’s some days that I’ll shield him in the house just so he won’t go outside, and I know I can’t do that for the rest of my life. He’s 16 years old. He’s into the streets."
From her son's perspective, all he felt was fear when he saw his mother's angry expression and bright canary colored shirt coming at him. "He said to me, ‘Ma, when I [saw] you, my instinct was to run,'" Graham recalled. "I’m a no-[tolerance] mother. Everybody that knows me knows I don’t play that. He knew he was in trouble.”
Graham told CBS what happened after they left the scene. "A lot of mothers have to provide for their children. You can make that phone call, ‘Get home, get home right now,’" she mused. "At the end of the day, they’re going to make their own decision. As parents, we just have to follow through to make sure that’s where they’re supposed to be at. Is he the perfect boy? No, he’s not! But he’s mine. I’m just grateful that I was able to get him home, and we actually sit back and watched the news and everything."
Meanwhile, her son has been experiencing Internet fame. "He has Facebook friends, and everybody making comments and saying you know, 'you shouldn't be mad at your mother,' 'you should give her a hug,'" she shared. "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."
The rioting and protests in Baltimore have stemmed from the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody and died on April 19.
"That’s my only son," Graham said. "And at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. But to stand up there and vandalize police officers, that’s not justice. I’m a single mom, and I have six children, and I just choose not to live like that no more, and I don't want that for him."
Watch her speak out above!