A woman seen berating and hitting a black-clad teenager, later confirmed to be her son, has been hailed as “mom of the year” after her intervention on the streets of Baltimore was caught on video. As violence flared up across the city on Monday, the woman, who was identified as Toya Graham on Tuesday afternoon, was filmed telling her child to “take that f—— mask off.”
Graham spoke to CBS News about the video, which initially went viral with little context. In the interview, the single mother of six tells the network that she intervened out of concern for her 16-year-old son’s safety.
“That’s my only son, and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” Graham said. “But to stand up there and vandalize police officers, that’s not justice.”
Fox Business contributor Charles Payne drew attention to the video in a tweet on Monday. (Fair warning, basically every video in this article will contain profanity.)
Mom of the year in Baltimore…my mother would have did same thing…https://t.co/vjxpD7hNwq
— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) April 28, 2015
By late Monday, videos of the incident were so widespread that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts brought it up in an overnight news conference.
“And if you saw in one scene, you had a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed,” Batts told reporters. “I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight. I think these were youth coming out of the high school and they thought it was cute to throw cinder blocks at the police department and address it that way.”
Baltimore’s ABC affiliate, WMAR, caught the encounter on camera but initially provided only this as an explanation:
This Baltimore mom saw her son throwing rocks at police on television.
That didn’t sit well with her.
The video shows the mother repeatedly striking her boy, chasing him as he tries to walk away.
The clip emerged alongside widely broadcast images of violence that dotted some sections of Baltimore on Monday afternoon and evening.
As The Washington Post has reported, it doesn’t appear that the violence stemmed from organized protests over the death of Freddie Gray, who died of a severe spinal injury suffered while in police custody. His funeral was held Monday.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said late Monday that the day’s violence was the result of “thugs who always want to incite violence and destroy our city. Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for.”
Although the video of one mom expressing frustration over the violence may stand out as a positive moment in an increasingly grim situation, there have been others. On Tuesday morning, volunteers took to the streets to help clean up the mess left behind.
Large group of volunteers cleaning up that burnt out CVS in Baltimore pic.twitter.com/84BVzu7SWS
— justin jouvenal (@jjouvenal) April 28, 2015
[This post, initially published at 8:22 a.m., has been updated to include information from a CBS interview with Toya Graham]
For live coverage of the unrest and events in Baltimore, follow The Post’s live blog here.