A popular streamer’s giveaway caused chaos in New York City
Popular Twitch streamer Kai Cenat is facing charges after a huge giveaway went horribly wrong.
Cenat has been charged with riot, inciting to riot, and unlawful assembly according to an NYPD spokesperson after thousands of people turned out for the chance to win games consoles and PCs, resulting in several injuries.
What happened in Union Square Park?
On 4 August, thousands of people arrived at Union Square Park in Manhattan after the streamer promoted a huge giveaway on his Instagram story. When advertising the event, he said they would be giving away PCs, PS5s, microphones, keyboards, gift cards, gaming chairs and more.
While the event was scheduled to begin at 4 pm ET, the area was already filled with people an hour before the start time, some of whom had started queuing several hours earlier.
By 5 pm ET, Kai Cenat had reportedly been arrested by police and the crowd dispersed an hour later. Cenat was released on Saturday with a desk appearance ticket to appear in court at a later date.
Cenat went live from inside a car during the event. The streamer showed concern for the crowd and said: “Everybody who’s out there, make sure y’all safe… We’re not gonna do nothin’ until it’s safe.”
Police soon intervened as the crowd grew more and more unruly. Reportedly the crowd destroyed police vehicles and food vendor carts and climbed on cars and statues.
New York City Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said three police officers were injured and a sergent suffered from a broken hand as officers were attacked and hit with multiple objects.
He said: “I personally observed young people having panic attacks, anxiety attacks. People were suffering out here.”
At the giveaway event, 65 people were arrested, with 30 of them being young people, many of which had reportedly been throwing bottles, fireworks, rocks and paint cans taken from a nearby construction site.
How does a giveaway descend into chaos?
The events that led up to such a disastrous giveaway are hard to pin down, though it is not unlikely that Cenat’s success on social media was a large part of what caused such a big turnout.
With 6.5 million Twitch followers, 5.6 million Instagram followers, and 4 million YouTube subscribers, he has a huge following. He is also currently the second most subscribed to streamer with over 50,000 subscribers.
Alongside his following, police stated the event was not permitted or sanctioned, meaning there were likely no measures in place to assist with crowd control.
This was not the first time Cenat had done something big for his fans, having previously streamed for 30 days uninterrupted. This led to some people speculating that the giveaway event would be huge and carnival-like, which may have resulted in an even bigger crowd.