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Dear Elizabeth Toledo — Mother Of Adam Toledo — It's Not Your Fault Your Son Is Dead

Photo: Gofundme 
Dear Adam Toledo's Mother, Police Shot Your Son And It's Not Your Fault

It’s not your fault that your son is dead. 

It’s not your fault that at 2:30am on March 29th a police officer shot your son in the chest, even as he complied with lawful orders.

In your words, Adam was full of life, he had dreams and goals, and in no way did he ever deserve to be murdered. 

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For whatever reason, many people are willing to sacrifice their humanity over the loss of a 13-year-old child to look for any way they can turn this around to blame the victim. That includes blaming you. 

“Where was she?” is becoming a rallying cry for these people. 

Even if you’d been there right beside Adam, he’d still be dead. And maybe you would be, too. Even if Adam hadn’t had something in his hand, other encounters with Black and Brown victims suggest that he would still be dead. Even if he hadn’t had gunshot residue on his gloves, which was only discovered after the fact, he would still likely be dead. 

Even if this, even if that — there are a million excuses offered up for trigger-happy officers who make new grieving parents at a disturbingly regular rate now. All of them are just that: excuses. 

The details of what happened that night aren’t totally known yet. We don’t have the full story. It seems that there was an older man involved, and a gun, but everything else is still a mystery. It could be that the two were having target practice in the middle of the night. It could have been a dare, or peer pressure, or “falling in with the wrong crowd.” 

In the most ardent and affirmative way it can possibly be said, it doesn’t matter where you were. And the details of the story don’t matter, either. Deep down, everyone knows this. You did nothing wrong — couldn’t possibly have done anything remotely wrong enough to face the killing of your child at the hands of those sworn to protect him. 

And neither did Adam, a 13-year-old child, do anything that deserved police execution. 

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If he needed help for some reason, then he should have gotten it. Instead, he was given a bullet to the chest. If he was having problems at school, problems at home, struggles with identity or mental health or friends and relationships or anything at all, help should have been offered readily and with open arms. 

Instead, there’s a video circulating online displaying in graphic detail how authorities responded to a call about your son. 

The system is failing our children. 

There is a growing number of parents who can unfortunately relate to you and your struggle. The rest of us are not far off. Our society now lives in excruciating dread of losing our sons. 

We must hold the perpetrators accountable. We must retrieve our humanity from the dark days of our past that even now echo violently in the present. We must shut down the poisoned rhetoric that blames parents when police kill their children, and that insidious language that slips the words “13-year-old man” into the mouths of our most-viewed pundits. 

Your story is not the only story. Again, and again, and again, we find ourselves here at this wind tunnel of arguments spewed from all angles of media and internet outlets. And again, the thing we lack the most is our empathy, our compassion. 

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As a mother, what you’re going through now is almost impossible to imagine. You are the focus now, yes, but not because we should be pointing fingers at you. Instead, we should be doing everything we can to turn a sympathetic shoulder to you in your time of desperate need. 

And we should be doing everything we possibly can to make sure that you’re the last mother on earth who has to experience this. 

To donate to Adam Toledo's Memory Fund on GoFundMe, organized by his mother Elizabeth Toledo to raise money for Adam's funeral, please click here

Kevin Lankes, MFA, is an editor and author. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and more.