New York City’s NBC affiliate reports:
A famous video game influencer known for streaming on Twitch is in custody after a giveaway event attracting thousands of young people sparked pandemonium in Manhattan’s Union Square. The Friday afternoon event advertised by Kai Cenat, one of the most popular streamers online, grew out of control well before its scheduled 4 p.m. start time. Cenat had told his online followers to come out to Union Square where he would be handing out free PlayStation consoles and gift cards, among other items.
Cenat was eventually pulled out from the massive crowd by police officers and seen speaking to several officials. A spokesperson confirmed the influencer was in custody facing charges for inciting a riot, unlawful assembly “and a few other charges,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said Friday night. He is known for having a large fanbase, and in Feb. 2023, became the most-subscribed Twitch streamer of all time.
Cenat, who has over 4 million followers on YouTube, over 5 million on Instagram, and 6.5 million on Twitch, said during a Wednesday Twitch stream that he would be hosting a “huge giveaway” Friday at 4 p.m. in Union Square Park. In the stream, he said they would be giving away computers, Play Station 5s, microphones, keyboards, webcams, gaming chairs, headphones and giftcards from a truck in Union Square. “I feel like New York really deserves it,” he said.
Cenat said during his Wednesday stream that attendees would be able to win prizes by correctly answering “random questions” related to YouTube and streaming. “If you get it right, boom, you get a PS5, just like that,” he said. Cenat streamed live on Twitch on Friday for some portion of the event, posting video from the crowd. In one video seemingly posted from inside a truck, he described the chaotic gathering, saying, “It’s everybody for themselves. It’s a war out there.”
According to some outlets, Cenat, who had no permit for the event, arrived empty-handed and nothing was given away to anybody. Vendor kiosks were ransacked and multiple vehicles were leapt upon and damaged. On Twitter, prominent cultists are gleefully posting videos of the mayhem as examples of life in a blue city.
Social media influencer Kai Cenat is charged with inciting a riot and unlawful assembly after thousands-strong crowds gathered in Union Square in New York City for a giveaway, leaving dozens of people arrested and several police officers injured. https://t.co/LCVbWRDmRM pic.twitter.com/Bn272obDIF
— CNN (@CNN) August 5, 2023
Influencer and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat will be charged with at least two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly after thousands of people descended on Union Square in New York City, police say. https://t.co/brq05rMvIm pic.twitter.com/1K6GfggTTg
— ABC News (@ABC) August 5, 2023
— New York Post (@nypost) August 5, 2023