Durham activist organizing vigilante group against violence

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- When Durham activist minister Paul Scott opens the trunk of his car there are boxes filled with items he has on the ready for inner-city youth. He has literature and armbands embroidered with an African flag patch. Scott has been handing the items out to people who are joining his cause for a vigilante group.

"Forget the police department as far as preventing crime. Forget the politicians. It's time for the church," said Scott.

He is calls the vigilante group the New Afrikan Guard, and says it's a blend between the Black Panthers and Guardian Angels.

"I've been deputizing the young people in the community," said Scott. "As they make a commitment to protect the black community, I give them an armband along with a book."

He said the community can no longer depend on the police and residents have to take matters into their own hands.

"We can't depend on nobody but ourselves to protect our own community. You've had 37 lives lost already," he said.

There has been an uptick in murders. Homicides are up in Durham 68 percent from last year.

There were 22 murders in 2014. There are 37 so far in 2015 and that number may rise. There are still three weeks left in the year.

Monday, a 35-year-old man was gunned down outside a convenience store a mere two blocks away from police headquarters.

The department has issued a statement on the vigilante group:

"The Durham Police Department's mission is to minimize crime, promote safety, and enhance the quality of life in partnership with our community. Collaboration between law enforcement, residents, and community leaders and organizations is needed to create and maintain a community where all Durham resident feel safe."

"We've tried everything else trying to stop the violence. Let's say empower the community, patrol your own community, and protect black lives by any means necessary," said Scott.

The vigilante group is emerging during a time of transition at the police department. Chief Jose Lopez is leaving at the end of the year. An interim chief has been named and the search is underway for a permanent chief.

Mayor Bill Bell would not comment on the group.

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