The popular social media streamer faced accusations of inciting violence on Friday when chaos erupted at an event in Union Square Park, Manhattan, where he had planned to give away video game consoles. The crowd swelled to an estimated several thousand youths.
Chief of Police, Jeffrey Madre, said at a press conference late on Friday that in addition to the riots, the live streamer Kai Carllo Cenat III could also face charges of illegal assembly and potentially other crimes.
Kai Cenat: The episode began around 3 p.m. and was brought under control by 6 p.m., resulting in 65 arrests (nearly half of them were teenagers); several officers and members of the crowd suffered injuries, and damage was caused to food trucks, police vehicles, and stores, officials said.
“It was out of control. It took us some time to bring it under control, and many youths got injured,” said Chief Madre in one of the two press conferences held after the park was cleared.
Mr. Senate and another streamer, Fanm, had announced plans to distribute PlayStation 5 consoles in the park at 4 p.m. Both are members of the AMP streaming group, which has a large following on YouTube and the streaming site Twitch. Mr. Senate’s YouTube channel has over 3.6 million followers.
Chief Madre said the event was spontaneous and organized without permission from the city. He mentioned that the police learned about the gathering through a social media post around 3 p.m., which quickly went viral.
During that moment, he remarked, “The circumstances spiraled out of control with great speed.”
The crowd of young people quickly gathered in the park and spilled onto the surrounding streets and sidewalks, halting traffic and pedestrians. With an abrupt swiftness, the beloved Union Square Greenmarket shuttered its stalls, and metro trains chose to skip the Union Square station.
As soon as it was time to distribute the gifts and they were gone, the commotion escalated.
Water bottles, basketballs, a computer, and fireworks passed through the crowd. As police officers tried to advance for arrests, a group of youths pushed back officers. Over 200 people standing near a flag in the center of the park shouted profanities at the police. Pictures from the scene show people climbing on top of parked cars in the crowd.
Chief Madre said people in the crowd began “committing acts of violence against the police and the public.”
In his words, he lamented, “Numerous youths displayed a disregard for our directives.” “Their overwhelming desire was to catch a glimpse of this prominent personality.”
By 5 p.m., police had pushed most of the crowd onto Park Avenue, where they kneeled in unison and began chanting “Black Lives Matter.” At 20th Street, they sat on vacant bike racks outside a high-end restaurant because employees had closed and were watching from inside. On the 22nd, dozens of teens ran into a CVS store, grabbing bottles of water, candy, and snacks, and then handed them out in the crowd.
Chief Madre said that when they started removing the youths from the area, the young people ran out to the city’s streets with plates of food in their hands.
Officers gave several opportunities for people in custody to leave, and some were loaded into a city bus, which was attacked by people trying to free those being taken away.
Chief Madre said that Mr. Senate was taken into protective custody, and police were considering whether to file charges against him for “inciting a riot.”
“This starkly illustrates the influence wielded by social media, highlighting both its potential for empowerment and its inherent risks.”
Among the crowd was Josh Ortiz, who resides in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood, and he mentioned that he came to the park to see two YouTube personalities.
The 18-year-old Ortiz said, “I came out just because I wanted to see them.” “I think a lot of kids thought they might get a free PC or PlayStation and While the primary goal was to generate income, my true desire lay in merely catching a glimpse of Kai Cenat. He’s the biggest content creator in America right now.”
He said things were peaceful at the beginning, but some people “started going crazy.”
He further commented, “It presents a curious blend of disquietude and amusement.” “Mere moments ago, a resounding explosion startled us, yet, having the inside knowledge, we understand it’s merely youngsters at play.” with fireworks, it gets weird.”
Ortiz said that Kai Cenat is partly responsible for the chaos.
“It’s kind of Kai Cenat fault,” he said, stating that the event was “not very well-organized” and Kai Cenat could have chosen a “more controlled area.”
While the park’s spectacle unfurled, a sizable cohort of teenagers amassed at the neighboring Best Buy store’s entrance, compelling the staff to hurriedly shut the doors.
Their sheer size is mind-boggling,” remarked a 21-year-old gamer hailing from Queens, who goes by the moniker Jap. He mentioned that many days ago when he announced this giveaway, 90,000 people were watching Mr. Senet’s livestream.
Adam Maas, a 20-year-old student from Brooklyn, said he came to the park after hearing about the event amid the pandemic.
“I heard they were going to be here,” said Maas, speaking about the two streamers, whom he called a “big deal.”
Expanding on his statement, he emphasized, “I had no intention of receiving any presents whatsoever.” “Nonetheless, an inkling of an event taking place spurred us to be present here.”