Thousands overran New York City streets on August 4 afternoon after Twitch streamer Kai Cenat called on fans to meet him at Manhattan's Union Square for a giveaway. Some of the people, including juveniles, swung objects at car windows, threw paint cans and set off fire extinguishers, resulting in a riot-like situation.
Aerial footage on US TV news networks showed a tightly packed crowd running through the streets, scaling structures in the park and bringing traffic to a grinding halt. Some clambered on a moving vehicle, falling off as it sped away while others can be seen climbing atop city buses.
Police officers gathered in large numbers by 5:30 pm and tried to bring the situation under control. However, teenagers knocked over barricades and threw bottles and even a flowerpot at police. Police were seen wrestling people to the ground and chasing them down the street.
Police might charge the streamer, Kai Cenat, with at least two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly. At least 65 people, including 30 juveniles, were arrested.
Jeffrey Maddrey, the highest-ranking uniformed officer for the New York City Police Department, said
"People were suffering out here,” adding that he saw people bleeding and having asthma and panic attacks. Maddrey said several police vehicles were damaged, including his.
How it all began
Multiple cars were pounded by fans at the Kai Cenat and Fanum meet and greet event in Union Square, NYC.— BoreCure (@CureBore) August 5, 2023
The Twitch/YouTube influencers had promised to give away PlayStations, gift cards, and other goods, but it turned into chaos as thousands of fans mobbed the area. pic.twitter.com/q1xHfiAAdm
The 21-year-old streamer who has around 6.5 million Twitch followers and four million YouTube subscribers posted an image on his Instagram page, announcing a giveaway at 4 pm in the New York City park. People started flowing in by 1:30 pm and the situation became unruly by 3 pm.
Cenat who was conferred with the streamer of the year award at the 12th annual Streamy Awards in December 2022, livestreamed on Twitch from a vehicle and displayed gift cards he planned to give away. However, after the crowd became unruly and police arrived, he told the crowd, "Everybody who is out there, make sure you all (are safe.... We are not going to do nothing until it is safe."
Later, he came out of his vehicle to meet his followers in the park and soon he was surrounded by a cheering, shoving mob. He was subsequently removed "for his safety" into a police vehicle, said the police chief.
"We have encountered things like this before but never to this level of dangerousness," Maddrey said, pointing out a city bus transporting arrested people was attacked.
Armed with batons, police push the crowd back using metal barricades and declared through loudspeakers that the gathering is unlawful. "Listen, we are not against young people having a good time, we are not against young people gathering," Maddrey said. "But it cannot be to this level where it is dangerous. A lot of people got hurt today."