LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Angela Newby Bouggess and her husband Jerry say Jan. 4 is never an easy one.

"I pray for our kids every day, every single day I pray for our kids especially our young men." she said.

The parents lost their son Michael Newby 12 years ago after he was shot and killed by a Louisville Metro Police officer, who was later acquitted of murder.

On this day of remembrance and reflection, we discuss their take on Louisville's state of racial progress and community relations.

"There's a lot of black kids under the age of 16 and 15 they've dropped out of school or been put out of school and the only thing they do is do crime," Jerry Bouggess added.

When it comes to the youth, they aren't too thrilled, saying elected officials are watching destruction from the sidelines.

"They steal, they do drugs and this is what it's done come to – there's not enough teaching from the city as far as giving them jobs and recreational things," Jerry explained.

Events they say like the chaos at Mall St. Matthews show the need for better leadership from the government down to the churches.

 

"When I heard riot, I thought about whites against blacks," Jerry said.

With a record year for homicides in 2015, they're hopeful no more funerals are planned.

"We see the same look on parent's faces after they lost their kids. When you're hustling out there, there's death or the penitentiary – there's no in between," Jerry said.

A situation that took on international headlines right here in Louisville, Newby's parents say they've earned the right to speak on the state of the city. They say it's on shaky grounds when it comes to police / community relations and racial justice.

Newby's parents work closely with local youth advocate groups like Hood 2 Hood and We All We Got in West Louisville, not only to keep their son's spirit alive but also to help steer young people down brighter paths.