At scene of flash-mob riot, a heavy police presence

Three days after a flash mob of local high school students disrupted the Gallery mall, heightened security made a repeat unlikely.

Police officers stationed at each entrance to the mall yesterday served as a reminder of Tuesday’s incident, which involved more than 150 students and resulted in 16 arrests and $700 of damage in a nearby Macy’s.

Lois Ladd of Edwardsville, Ill., who was visiting Philadelphia for the weekend, said she has never seen so much security at a mall.

“Everybody has security at every door,” she said.

Anxhela Disha, a student at Delaware County Community College, was sitting on a bench outside the mall waiting to meet her boyfriend.

She said that the two of them regularly spend time at the mall but that this was her first time back since Tuesday’s incident.

“There are just more people,” she said. “More police, and more people.”

But the scene inside seemed calm. In the mall’s food court, only a few students were gathered, and security guards had little to do.

This reporter was escorted off the premises and was told that reporters were not allowed to interview anyone in the mall.

Despite one student’s assurances that crowds were only small because “nobody is down here yet,” the number of students outside the mall never grew beyond a few small groups.

Four students, from Mastery Charter School and the Community College of Philadelphia, said the security guards at one entrance discouraged them from going inside.

“We were trying to get in, and the cops just crossed their arms and shook their heads,” said Hanani Brooks, a student at Mastery. “But they’ll let us back in eventually. We’re their main source of income.”

Savon Hutchinson, another Mastery student, said he and his friends weren’t involved in the flash mob, but had heard about it.

Even though it’s not really talked about at school, “everyone knows,” he said.

In general, mallgoers said they saw nothing to concern them yesterday.

“My boyfriend told me, ‘Stay inside, don’t go out,’ ” Disha said. “But I think I’ll be OK.”

This entry was posted in state security, technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.