At least 12 people were injured in New York City’s Union Square when Twitch streamer Kai Cenat promised free PS5s.
YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat has been taken into police custody in New York City after a PlayStation 5 giveaway he staged in Union Square descended into violence, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed to NBC News on Friday.
At least 12 people were injured and “numerous” arrests made after a riot broke out in the park, police told the outlet. Video of the chaos posted to social media shows thousands of people thronging the giveaway site. Some can be seen climbing on top of a subway entrance, while others throw fire extinguishers and police barricades at each other.
The giveaway, which Cenat announced in partnership with fellow streamer Fanum, was scheduled for 4pm. By 5pm, several NYPD officers were trying to disperse the unruly crowd, which numbered over 2,000 by their estimates.
The NYPD was completely swarmed by teenage hooligans who rioted over the Kai Cenat giveaway in Union Square. pic.twitter.com/nrNYfoYAo6
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 4, 2023
Transit delays and traffic disruptions were reported due to the chaos. One group reportedly let off firecrackers in the park, leading to false reports that a shooting had taken place, and cops were pelted with objects, forcing them to take cover behind their cars and pieces of plywood, according to Eyewitness News.
BREAKING: NYPD is responding to large gathering of teens and young adults outside Union Square Park in Manhattan. Police tells everyone to avoid the area.
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) August 4, 2023
Cenat finally arrived and directed his clamouring supporters to a truck with a clear back door containing boxes labeled “PS5.” It is not known if these contained actual PlayStations, and Cenat had promised the giveaway would also include gaming PCs, gift cards, gaming chairs, and other coveted accessories.
Kai Cenat and Fanum caused a riot in NYC's Union Square after promising to distribute free PS5s, PCs, gift cards, etc.
Hundreds of youngsters gathered, leading to fights.
The NYPD was on scene to disperse the crowd and warned of mass transit disruptions and traffic delays. pic.twitter.com/qZhbM2MpOE
— BoreCure (@CureBore) August 4, 2023
Half the crowd reportedly rushed the truck, while the other half tailed his vehicle, which fled the scene after driving north alongside the park after multiple supporters climbed on top of it and one fell off.
“NYPD SUCK MY DICK”
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) August 4, 2023
The social media star, who has 5.5 million Instagram followers and broke Twitch’s record for most active subscribers in March, streamed himself reacting to the chaos he had caused, marveling “Everybody for themselves, it’s a war out there, man.” It was not clear when or where he had been taken into custody, nor whether he was actually under arrest.
The riot was apparently sparked in a frenzy to actually see the influencer, according to a witness who spoke to the Daily Mail. “One cluster of people would let out a yell and start cheering, then another group would do the same, people were swarming over to the group that yelled the loudest just to try and see this influencer,” the person said, adding that “People had little kids with them.”