Social media influencer and streamer Kai Cenat was arrested this Friday by the New York Police Department after their giveaway spiraled into a full-blown riot with smoke bombs and M-80s.
Cenat, an influencer, told his Twitch followers on stream the past Wednesday to come join him on Friday for a “huge giveaway”, telling his audience he will be in a truck in Union Square. In the picture above, a screencap of NBC News’ coverage, you can see a glimpse of the chaos that followed.
“I feel like New York really deserves it,” he told followers, promising he will be in Union Square giving away PS5s, computers, gaming chairs or headphones. All they had to do was to answer a question Cenat would ask the crowd and they’d automatically get a prize if they responded correctly.
Unsurprisingly, many followers responded and the situation quickly devolved, forcing NYPD to activate a “Level 4” response, their highest level of disaster response.
NYPD chief Jeffrey Maddrey said at one of two Friday news conferences that the gathering “went from 300 kids to a couple of thousands of kids in minutes”
From a CNN report:
Maddrey said that as the crowd grew, “individuals in the park began to commit acts of violence towards the police and the public.” He said that some attendees took items from a nearby construction site.
“You had people walking around with shovels, axes, and other tools from the construction,” he said. “Individuals were also lighting fireworks, throwing them towards the police, they were throwing them towards each other.”
During the chaos, Cenat was continuing to post videos on Twitch but they were later taken down. After the event, they also posted a picture on his Instagram story with the message “I love you guys to the fullest you guys are amazing.”
NYPD said that, because Cenat didn’t alert authorities over his plan to host the giveaway, the gathering was an unlawful assembly. In total, police arrested 65 people, including 30 minors, and charged Cenat with two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly.
The CNN report also quotes New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ statement on Saturday, who blamed the chaotic proceedings on both outside influencers and lack of adequate parental oversight:
“You don’t come to get free GameBoys and bring smoke bombs and bring M-80s,” Adams said. The mayor said the gathering, which “could have turned really ugly,” is not a policing issue. “This is a parenting issue,” he said.
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