Abolition for the People

Losing My Son to Police Violence: A Conversation With Gwendolyn Woods

In a candid conversation with Kiese Laymon, Mario Woods’ mother reflects on his life — and the violence that robbed him of his future

This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

If they didn’t annihilate my son, what did they do? If that doesn’t look like an execution, tell me what it looks like?

My first meeting with Colin was four years in the making. Mario was executed blocks from old Candlestick Park. So, three years later, when someone asked Colin what made him take that knee. He said Mario Woods.

I birthed my baby. I loved my baby. They shot so many holes in my baby’s body.

I remember so many things I know Mario doesn’t remember. I wish I could remind him of who he was. When we were living in Houston, I met Mario one day when he got out of school. I met him at the corner. Him and my neighbor, little Johnny, were coming up the street, and he had a big black thing in his hands.

Kiese Laymon is the author of the forthcoming memoir, Heavy. He is also the author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourselves and Others in America.