CHARLOTTE, N.C. --Charlotte is closing out the year with the highest number of homicides in 25 years.

As of Thursday evening, there have been 86 homicides in the city in 2017.

Thursday afternoon, a new group called the Concerned Elders of the Black Community announced it was going to work to end the violence. The group was founded by Reverend James Barnett, a long-time Charlotte activist.

"Nobody can save us from us, but us," Barnett said.

Barnett pointed out that the majority of the deaths had been young African-American males killed by other young African-American men and it was time for the African-American community to step up and do something about it.

"Law enforcement can't do it alone, elected officials can't do it. If we don't get involved the murder rate will continue to increase," he said.

Barnett says that means organizing in communities like the Parkview neighborhood where Gwendolyn Brown Johnson and other residents formed their own neighborhood watch.

They call police whenever they see something suspicious.

She says it means taking a stand.

"I have to," she said. "If I don't, somebody will take me and I have children I'm trying to raise."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesperson Rob Tufano said the homicide rate is so high because in so many cases, people who have minor disputes or arguments aren't talking things out but rather are reaching for a gun

More than half of our homicide victims were between the ages of 18 and 34," Tufano said. "Young people who are senselessly losing their lives."