Why Conservatives Are Blaming Adam Toledo's Mom For Her 13-Year-Old Son Being Killed By Police

Photo: hkalkan / Shutterstock.com / GoFundMe
Adam Toledo and his mother Elizabeth Toledo

The release of police bodycam footage showing the exact manner of the death of Adam Toledo, the 13-year-old Latino boy shot by police in Chicago last month, has brought new fuel to the current climate of outrage over police violence and brutality in law enforcement's treatment of minorities.

The fight to protect human lives from untimely endings due to police killings has unnecessarily become a matter of debate between the left and right, conservatives versus liberals.

There is nothing political about wanting to prevent a child from being shot dead in the street. But instead of interrogating those manning the system Toledo fell victim to, some conservatives are attempting to shift blame away from those who shot this child.

Who are conservatives blaming for Adam Toledo's death?

Elizabeth Toledo, Adam's grieving mother, whose trauma over losing her child has been compounded by backlash and criticism, is being blamed for her son's death at the hands of police.

According to those defending the killing of Toledo, this is not a police problem, it’s a “parenting problem.” It’s “parental neglect.” It’s everything but a tragic and unjustifiable death.

Refusing to interrogate their own biases or question why the police killed a child, it has become easier for these people to attack a mother who should have been allowed to believe that police would protect her son.

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What happened to Adam Toledo?

As seen in police bodycam footage released on April 15, police chased Toledo down an alley in the early hours of March 29 after being alerted about gunfire in the area.

Toledo appears to drop a weapon before turning to face police with his hands up, as they had requested.

He is then shot in the chest.

While figures like Sean Hannity labeled the seventh-grader a “man,” Toledo’s mother was appealing for justice and information about her son’s death.

“I just want to know what really happened to my baby," she said. "They had a lot of options, but not kill him. They could have shot him in his legs, his arms, up in the air, I don't know but not kill my baby."

Neither Toledo nor his mother is the threat conservatives like Hannity want to believe them to be.

She revealed that Toledo aspired to become a police officer someday, and that “Adam loved to play with Legos, saying funny jokes to make others laugh, he was a child that brightened up the room when he would walk in.”

Yet, as her family falls apart because of police misconduct, she has become a victim of another kind of violence as conservatives attack her character and parenting.

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Conservatives have been spreading inaccuracies about Toledo’s death.

Reports have swirled saying Toledo had been missing for several days before his mother informed the police.

This is a misleading and uncompassionate portrayal of what happened.

Elizabeth had reported her son missing to Chicago police on March 26. However, when Toledo returned home on March 27, she told detectives she believed he was safe and his name was removed from the missing persons tracking system.

He left again sometime on March 27 or 28, and was killed on March 29.

Then, when he didn’t come home for two more days, police reached out to ask for a photo which she believed would be for a missing person report. But 30 minutes later, police knocked on her door and told Toledo’s mother they needed her to go to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office to identify what they believe, rightly, to be her child’s body.

What good had it done Toledo's mother to send the police out looking for her son when they are the ones who took his life after finding him?

Casting blame on Toledo’s mother is a weak and hypocritical indictment against all parents who have ever had a child rebel or sneak out without asking permission.

It also negates the reality that the reason so many minority children find themselves in trouble with the law is rooted in the lack of financial and social support available for their communities.

The system that fails to reprimand white cops for killing children is the same system that consistently targets, criminalizes, and imprisons minority families.

Why should these families trust the police when they are being killed daily by people in uniform?

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It is time for conservatives to shift their focus where it belongs and question the police instead of their victims.

With every police shooting, there comes a new deluge of excuses and victim-blaming that allows conservatives to maintain their willful ignorance of police violence.

According to conservatives, Daunte Wright was resisting arrest, so he deserved to be killed.

George Floyd was on drugs, so deserved to be killed.

Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend shot at what he believed were intruders breaking into his home in the middle of the night, so she deserved to be killed.

Ahmaud Arbery shouldn’t have been jogging in a white neighborhood in khaki shorts, so he deserved to be killed.

Eric Garner had a criminal record for circumventing state tax law, so he deserved to be killed.

The killing of 13-year-old Toledo disrupts everything conservatives cling to when trying to defend the police.

He was not big and intimidating, he was not resisting arrest, he had no criminal history, he was compliant, he dropped his weapon, he raised his hands, he was a child.

Without resorting to their usual defenses, conservatives have set their sights on Toledo’s mother, attacking her duty of care and calling her out for, from their perspective, failing to protect him.

But, for those whose job it is to protect and keep people safe, killing a child in the street was just part of the job?

Of course, it is human nature to want to believe bad things don’t happen to good people. We want to believe that everything that happens in the world is justified.

But how many sons, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and friends need to be killed by law enforcement before we all think this is a problem and address it as a human collective?

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her on Twitter for more.