Carl Smith of Saco with his sons, Andrew Smith, left, and Dylan Smith. His sons joined demonstrations last week in Portland, condemning the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Smith said his sons have been unfairly targeted by police in the past, and he hopes Americans are “opening up their eyes.” Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Carl Smith and his wife, Lori, live in Saco and raised twin sons, Dylan and Andrew, both now 23 and living in Massachusetts. Carl Smith, 52, said the talks with his sons have really never ended.

It all starts when they’re young. You’ve got to teach them how to respond to police and, if you get pulled over, put your hands up so they can see them at all times. That’s what I’ve always told them.

Those are conversations that I’ve had with my boys that, someone in the same bracket of work that I do, they never have to have with their kids. My biggest fear with my boys is when they’re out. They’ve been pulled over in their car for no reason. The people doing that don’t know who I am, don’t know how hard I’ve worked, how hard my wife has worked, to provide for our kids.

I got the same speech from my father. I gave my speech to my boys when they got their driver’s license. They understood, but they understand a lot more now. I’ve told them how to act when they’re out doing their thing. I told them, ‘You might not be doing anything wrong, but at the same time, you’re looked at in a different way than your counterparts.’

I’ve had a talk with their friends, who are mostly white. I told them you’ve got to act right when you’re around my boys because if something happens, they’re the first ones to be asked questions. They’re the first ones that are going to be looked at.

They have been part of the protests (in Portland). The only thing I tell them is I don’t want them doing any damage, to not be involved in any looting. I’m proud they’re part of the protests. But I want them to do it right.

It concerns me a lot more (with them living in a different state). Dylan has been pulled over just because of the car he drives. They ask him whose car is this? He wasn’t speeding or anything. They tell him he got pulled over because a light is out. I know that’s wrong because I make sure it’s taken care of.

I think the difference now is that a lot more people, not of my race, are finally opening up their eyes now, seeing that this has been a problem for a very long time. Maybe that will change things. But it all has to start with our government.

– Staff Writer Mike Lowe