Every Mother's Son

Three mothers lose sons at the hands of police officers and unite to fight for change.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
52 mins
Remote video URL


Iris Baez, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, never meant to become an activist. Kadiatou Diallo never meant to leave her home in Africa and move to the U.S., to fight for justice for her son. Doris Busch Boskey, a Jewish woman from the suburbs, never thought she'd become a spokesperson against police brutality. This film profiles three women from very different walks of life who find themselves united to seek justice after their sons are unjustly killed by police. Their stories are tragic, but their courage is transformative.

Featured review

One of the best resources focusing on the complex issues associated with the police use of deadly force. Every Criminal Justice program needs this film.
Dr. Delores Jones-Brown
Dir., Ctr. on Race, Crime & Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice


Anthony Baez died during a football game when an officer put him in an illegal chokehold. Amadou Diallo was unarmed when he was shot at 41 times by police in his doorway. Gary (Gidone) Busch was pepper-sprayed and shot to death while holding a small hammer, though witnesses said he posed no threat. Their stories are tragic and the courage shown by the mothers heroic. As one witness says, "As long a there's a mother, we'll continue to fight."


This film about three ordinary mothers forced to become extraordinary activists after their sons were killed by the police is powerful, heartbreaking, and ultimately transforming. The story of their sons' lives and deaths, told through the hearts and minds of their mothers, makes real not only the tragedy of police brutality, but the more tragic loss of the lives of Every Mother's Son. This film transforms victims into real people and makes it impossible to remain indifferent or inactive about the issue of police misconduct and excessive use of force.
Jill Nelson
Editor, "Police Brutality: An Anthology"
The courage and dignity with which the mothers transcended their personal tragedies to pursue justice is moving and inspiring. The film eloquently makes the point that change is made by regular people working together and supporting each other. It will be an essential teaching tool in academic and community settings. Despite the sadness of the situations and the outrageous behavior of the police and the public officials, the film gives us hope.
Marlene Fried
Director, Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program, Hampshire College
Every Mother's Son achieves remarkable intimacy and depth around a controversial topic, and helps us to wrestle with this important issue. Every library should have it in their collection and build a film and discussion program around it!
Pamela Groves
Youth Services Librarian, Princton Public Library (Princeton, NJ)
This excellent film provides a sharp picture of how ordinary women of different backgrounds come to political voice through the shared tragic circumstance of the loss of a son. We see repeatedly the many effects, both intended and unintentional, of the aggressive policing that characterized Rudolph Guiliani's New York. There, police killings of innocent civilians transformed mothers into activists, catapulting everyday citizens to extraordinary action. This film sheds a unique light on the ironies of women's relationships to the state as mothers. Private roles become public identities and personal grief engenders political missions. If this film teaches students how motherhood can become a political tool, it also sheds light on the especial vulnerability of young men, notably minorities and the mentally ill, at the hands of a macho regime.
Lara Kriegel
Assistant Professor of History, Florida International University
With Every Mother's Son, Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson have created an impassioned portrait of women's courage and grassroots activism in urban America today. Iris Baez, Kadiatou Diallo and Doris Busch Boskey, whose sons were brutally killed by New York City police, are three very different women bound together by a common sorrow and injustice. By showing how three "ordinary" women turn anger and personal tragedy into fuel for social change, Gold and Anderson have given teachers of Women's Studies, Race and Ethnic Studies and Criminal Justice a precious tool for inspiring our students in a harshly conservative climate. This is one of the most brilliant and unforgettable documentaries I have seen in these dark days.
Rosalind Petchesky
Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Hunter College (CUNY)
Every Mother's Son is a powerful film that puts viewers in the place of police brutality victims, engaging them in one of the most important social issues of our time.
Paul Chevigny
Professor of Law, New York University
Providing an intriguing perspective on unjust law coupled with strong, personal accounts of loss, Every Mother's Son is likely to remain with you long after you leave the theater.
San Francisco Bay Guardian
San Francisco Bay Guardian
Every Mother's Son brilliantly illustrates the capacity human beings have to overcome our pain by bearing witness, by finding the power to speak out against police violence and misconduct ... a masterpiece of contemporary documentary filmmaking.
Manning Marable
Former Director, Ctr. for Contemporary Black History, Columbia University

Awards and Screenings

Audience Award, Tribeca Film Festival, 2004
POV Broadcast (PBS), 2004

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Director's Commentary
  • DVD Extras
  • Resources for Educators

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • Spanish

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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