BALTIMORE, Md. (WUSA9) -- The dozens of county and state police massed in the Security Square Mall parking lot Tuesday ended up having to do almost nothing to protect the businesses inside.
Instead, an unlikely coalition of gang members, pastors and community activists successfully turned away would-be trouble-makers before they even crossed the street.
On social media, word spread of a "purge," or a flash-riot like those that swept Baltimore city Monday, targeting the mall, which was closed today as a precaution. Several area businesses also closed, and some even boarded up their windows.
Gang members, including Orlando "Magic" Gilyard, a Bloods gang member dressed in red, were among the first to arrive at the mall this afternoon. Their message to any potential rioters: go home.
"I'd rather be out here dealing with my brothers, giving these dudes some tough love rather than see the police shoot them down," Gilyard said. "I don't want to see these kids get shot down."
Gilyard said that rumors last week that Baltimore's gangs had banded together to target police officers were untrue. The gangs had called a truce, he said, but only to protest in support of Freddie Gray. Monday's riots, Gilyard said, were a perversion of that deal.
"This is not – this can't be for Freddie Gray. Are you really about to go out here and die for a pair of tennis shoes? You're spitting on his grave. Come on now, you're disrespecting his family. We can't have that," Gilyard said. "We're not allowing that today. We're going to try to do whatever we can do to stop it."
Side by side with the gang members were pastors from several different churches, as well as unaffiliated community activists and leaders.
When young people would arrive at the parking lot across the street from the mall, someone would quickly greet them. If they seemed to have come to cause trouble, they'd find themselves in a longer conversation with a group of Bloods, clergy, and interested observers, who wanted to protect their community.
"This is not a protest, said one man of the day's events outside the mall. "This is a 'stop-the-foolishness.'"