Twitch streamer to be charged after giveaway sparks mayhem in NYC's Union Square Park: police

30 of 65 arrested are juveniles, police say

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Saturday, August 5, 2023
Twitch streamer to face charges over mayhem in Union Square
A crowd of thousands packed Manhattan's Union Square for Kai Cenat's hyped giveaway that quickly got out of hand Friday afternoon. Josh Einiger has the latest details.

NEW YORK -- Thousands of people overran Union Square Park and surrounding lanes of traffic in New York City on Friday as a popular Twitch streamer, who police say will now face charges, held a video game giveaway.

NYPD held an update after a giveaway by Twitch streamer Kai Cenat caused chaos in Union Square.

Over the last few days, Kai Cenat, one of the most popular streamers on the video game streaming website Twitch, announced that he would give away Playstation 5 video game consoles at 4 p.m. in Union Square. Thousands of people showed up and took over the park and the roads bordering it as police struggled to contain them.

Maddrey said a 17-year-old was hospitalized from what was initially believed to be a gunshot wound, but ended up being a firework injury.

A promise of free PlayStations led to Times Square chaos Friday.

NYPD sources originally told WABC-TV they do not want to arrest people, and they do not want to escalate the situation further. However, NYPD arrest 65 people, including 30 juveniles, said Chief Jeffrey Maddrey. Charges against Cenat will include at least two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, Maddrey said.

The event was "unpermitted" and "not sanctioned" and grew rapidly to 1000s of young people, who Maddrey said attacked officers instead of complying with orders to leave. The chief implored parents to step in.

"I had 1000s of kids out there, I needed 1000s of parents," Maddrey said. "When it gets to the point where it's disorderly, we want the parents to come and take control."

Upon first arriving over the scene, WABC reporter Shannon Sohn in Newscopter 7 reported seeing a group of police officers holding up pieces of plywood and taking cover behind cars that were stuck on 14th Street because of the crowd as they were pelted by objects thrown from the mass of people.

Kai Cenat announced the giveaway on his Instagram. CeFaan Kim has the latest from Union Square.

There was construction happening near the 14th Street subway station, and people in the crowd had grabbed and were throwing paint cans and other equipment.

Several people climbed on top of the gazebo which covers the subway as well as the George Washington Statue, which depicts the former president riding a horse. A number of drivers were trapped in their cars as they were surrounded by the crowd and 14th Street was shut down as police set up a barricade of officers.

The sheer number of people and their seeming desire to get a glimpse of Cenat and a group of people with him which created a dangerous situation of masses of people moving and shoving.

Later, an SUV believed to be carrying Cenat drove away from the scene on 17th Street while about a dozen people were hanging on the side and clinging to the top as the SUV. Many of them were seen falling from the vehicle.

The SUV believed to be carrying Kai Cenat was spotting by NewsCopter 7 whizzing away from Union Square after a social media giveaway sparked mayhem Friday evening.