(BALTIMORE) — The teenage boy publicly shamed when his mom smacked him around at the Baltimore riots this week said he knows she “really cares about me.”
A video shows Michael Singleton being dragged from the protests and whacked by his mother, Toya Graham, after she saw him on television and recognized a key piece of clothing.
“What caught my eye was his sweatpants,” she told ABC News. “Even though he had on all black, I knew those sweatpants he had on, they had a stripe on the side of it and then his eye contact met mine. And I knew that was my son.”
Though he was visibly annoyed and tried brushing off his mom in the video that has now gone viral, the 16-year-old recognizes that she was just looking out for him.
“I’m like, ‘Oh man! What is my momma doing down here?'” Michael told ABC News, laughing while thinking back to the moment his mom nabbed him Monday afternoon.
“All my friends know my mother. Every time they see her they’re like, ‘Toya coming.’ Oh, yeah she’s coming. Everybody better get straight,” he said.
He added: “I understand how much my mother really cares about me. I just got to try to do better.”
Despite some criticism that she went too far with the corporal punishment, Graham has been widely praised as a hero and an example of good parenting by taking control of her son, who said he wasn’t planning on going out on the afternoon of Freddie Gray’s funeral but his friends convinced him. Gray died this month with unexplained injuries after being taken into police custody, prompting protests in Baltimore and elsewhere.
“To see him down there, doing what he was doing, we’re not doing that,” Graham said. “I’m not angry with him anymore. As long as I have breath in my body, you will not be on the streets, selling drugs, you just not going to live like that.”
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