The teenager who was shown in a now-viral video being smacked by his mother after she recognized him at a riot on Monday said in a new interview that aired Wednesday he regretted his participation.
“I regret going down there and being in that situation when I was supposed to be home,” Michael Singleton, the son of Toya Graham, told CNN.
Singleton was joining crowds that had gathered at Mondawmin Mall in the wake of the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody. The gathering turned into a full-blown riot as young people started throwing bottles and bricks at police officers, leading city and state officials to later call in reinforcements and initiate a citywide curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the next several days.
“A couple of my friends had been beaten by the police,” he said of his decision to join in. But once he saw his mother—and once she saw him with a brick—the 16-year-old knew he was in trouble: “It was just World War III from right there”
Graham, unaware that she was being filmed, repeatedly whacked her son. “I just lost it at that point,” she said. “I was so angry at him that he had made a decision to harm those police officers.”
“He was actually embarrassing himself by wearing that mask and that hoodie and doing what he was doing,” she added. “If you want to be bold enough to do this, then show your face.”
Singleton, who told CNN he was humiliated by the video, believes he likely will not protest again—and if he does, he won’t be armed with a brick. “My mom talked to me about it, she was just like what did they do to you?” he said. “If I ever do go back down there, I’m going to do it in a positive way.”