• U.S.

Baltimore Mom Explains Why She Smacked Son at Riot

2 minute read

A mother in Baltimore who was videotaped smacking her son after finding him at the scene of Monday’s riots said in an interview Tuesday she only wanted to protect him.

In the footage, which has since gone viral, Toya Graham can be seen chasing her 16-year-old son Michael, who was wearing a mask, and smacking him repeatedly. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts later praised her and said he wished more parents would take charge of their kids.

“He knew he was in trouble,” Graham, a mother of six, told CBS News. “He said when ‘I seen you,’ he said, ‘ma, my instinct was to run.'”

Graham wasn’t thinking about the cameras and just wanted him to stay out of trouble. “That’s my only son and at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” she said, referring to the 25-year-old whose death after suffering an injury in police custody has sparked protests and riots around the city, and reignited the national debate and police brutality.

“I just lost it,” she added. “I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.”

[CBS News]

Read next: Baltimore Picks Up the Pieces, Wary of Another Night of Violence

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Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com