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St. Louis father and son have new conversations after racially-charged protests, violence

"I always tell him to be extra careful with everything that's been going on," said St. Louis dad Marty Johnson

ST. LOUIS — This Father's Day, Marty Johnson and his 19-year-old son Christian enjoyed one of their favorites pastimes: playing basketball.

"It was a blessed Father's Day. The special bond is he's my firstborn," said Marty Johnson.

Johnson's son is the oldest of four.

Christian recently graduated from Riverview Gardens High School.

"The bond we have has always been close because my dad is like my brother, too. We talk about everything, sports you know, what's going on today," Christian said.

That includes the recent deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Rayshard Books in Atlanta and the subsequent protests, riots and violence that broke out in St. Louis and across the country.

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"He had different views sometimes. We don't always agree, but at the end of the day that's my son," said Marty Johnson.

Johnson said lately he and his son have talked more about racism in America.

"I tell him don't treat any human any differently. Just be respectful to all people," added Johnson.

"People just need to learn how to be smarter, wiser. Learn what the actual story is to it and why it starts," said Christian.

The father and son are also having candid conversations about the importance of respecting all law enforcement officers.

"I always tell him to be extra careful and don't give officers any type of reason to do these types of things as far as being violent," said Johnson.

Johnson admits now more than ever, he's having real, even tough talks with his son. Talks he believes are potentially life-saving.

"It's getting real dangerous out here. We just got to be real careful," added the North St. Louis County father.

Be careful, but also be "the change-maker" he tells his son.

"I feel like it can be brighter. It starts with us," said Christian.