The Baltimore riots hit close to home for Taraji P. Henson. While chatting with Us Weekly at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood on Wednesday, April 29, the Empire actress, who was being honored by the American Black Film Festival, said the riots surrounding Freddie Gray’s death are a “reminder of how bad things really are.”
“It’s sad. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s very, very scary. I’m the mother of an African-American young man,” Henson, 44, told Us, referring to her only child, 20-year-old son Marcel. “It’s very scary, the times we’re living in. I mean, it’s almost like it’s The Twilight Zone. Because look at how well we’re getting along here and then you turn on the news and it’s like a reminder of how bad things really are."
“[It’s like] he’s not allowed to have a bad day,” the mom said of her concerns for her son. “If he gets pulled over by the cops and you know he’s been pulled over one too many times and he’s like, ‘Why are you messing with me?’, like Eric Garner, he could get choked out on the sidewalk, just for voicing an opinion. Just for being a human and having a bad day. Not breaking the law. You know? Just because he answered the officer wrong, he can have his life taken and that scares the s—t out of me.”
Henson, who apologized last month after she wrongfully accused police of racially profiling her son, says she hopes that we can "mend the relationship between police officers and the community.”
“I remember when I grew up, we used to refer to police officers as Officer Friendly. They would come into the public schools and talk to the kids and say ‘Don’t do drugs’ and ‘Go to school and learn,’ come to school and talk to the kids,” she explained. “So there was a certain trust. Then when crack got dropped off and the war on drugs, it all changed. And it became mostly military, it was very military. What are the officers doing with the same weapons that you’re using overseas on citizens of the United States? I don’t understand.”
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