I’m juggling a number of things right now as I write this, and it’s possible some of the details are wrong. If you’re reading this for information verify through other sources and if there are large errors please note them in the comments.
At approximately 12:30pm a letter was distributed suggesting that the Bloods, Crips, the Black Guerrilla Family, and the Nation of Islam had gotten together to declare war on the Baltimore City Police Department. The BCPD declared the letter a legitimate threat.
Sometime after that, a meme was distributed suggesting Baltimore school kids engage in a “purge”. The concept of the “purge” was taken from a movie with the same name, depicting a dystopian scenario in which for a short period all rules are suspended.
At 3pm police appeared in full riot gear at Mondawmin Mall. Mondawmin is a major transportation hub for the city and for the city’s school children–because Baltimore Public Schools don’t have their own bus service kids use the city bus, Metro, and Light Rail to get home.
The police decided to prevent kids from accessing the buses they use to get home, confining them to the Mondawmin area.
The steps the police took to protect themselves, exacerbated an already tense environment. Certainly preventing high school age children–who are already prone to take risks, already prone to believe themselves invulnerable, and already prone to being harassed by police officers–created the conditions in which a riot was more likely to occur.