Twitch Streamer’s Giveaway Event Sparks Chaos in Manhattan

Thousands of fans flock to Union Square for free PlayStation consoles

A famous video game influencer known for streaming on Twitch is in custody after a giveaway event attracting thousands of young people sparked pandemonium in Manhattan’s Union Square. The Friday afternoon event advertised by Kai Cenat, one of the most popular streamers online, grew out of control well before its scheduled 4 p.m. start time. Police estimates suggest the crowd size eventually climbed to a “couple thousand people”.

Twitch Streamer’s Giveaway

Cenat had told his online followers to come out to Union Square where he would be handing out free PlayStation consoles and gift cards, among other items. What exactly turned the crowd unruly isn’t quite clear, but by 3:30 p.m. people were seen chucking garbage at police and taking down barriers around the perimeter. Witnesses reported seeing others throwing chairs and bottles. One person had a bruise on his face and he said he was pushed to the ground.

NYPD mobilizes to disperse the crowd and restore order

The commotion prompted the highest level of police mobilization by the NYPD. According to a spokesperson, the department called on an estimated one thousand officers to respond to the escalating situation. Here’s what it looked like in Union Square during Kai Cenat pandemonium.

Cenat was eventually pulled out from the massive crowd by police officers and seen speaking to several officials. A spokesperson confirmed the influencer was in custody but top brass later would not say whether he was facing criminal charges.

A few dozen others, however, were arrested during the NYPD’s efforts to clear the park and maintain order. Initial estimates from the department were that 40 people had been cuffed.

Chaos spreads to nearby streets and vehicles

The chaos was far from contained to just the plaza. The thousands of mostly young people in the crowd stretched into multiple streets, blocking E 14th Street and Broadway directly south of Union Square. A number of cars attempting to pass by were swarmed by the overwhelming size of the group and forced to halt. Chopper video showed a handful of people in the crowd climbing on top of some of those cars as well as a food cart nearby.

Some people climbed on top of a moving vehicle, falling off as it sped away. Others pounded on the side of a city bus. People could be seen climbing on top of another bus and jumping up and down.

Who is Kai Cenat and why is he so popular?

Kai Cenat, 21, is a video creator with 6.5 million followers on the platform Twitch, where he regularly livestreams. He also boasts 4 million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts daily life and comedy vlogs ranging from “Fake Hibachi Chef Prank!” to his most recent video, “I Rented Us Girlfriends In Japan!”. His 299 YouTube videos have amassed more than 276 million views among them.

In December, he was crowned streamer of the year at the 12th annual Streamy Awards. He is known for his charismatic personality, humorous antics, and generous giveaways.

On his Instagram feed, Cenat had an image promoting a giveaway at 4 p.m. Friday in the park. Some young people leaving the park said they had come expecting a giveaway of a computer for livestreaming and a new PlayStation.

Cenat posted a photo of media coverage on his Instagram story with “I love you guys to the fullest you guys are amazing, the love from home base is real. Please be safe.”

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