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Twitch streamer Kai Cenat charged with riot after NYC giveaway chaos at Union Square Park

Cenat, a popular personality on Twitch and YouTube, was taken into custody after a crowd turned at an event that police say wasn’t permitted or sanctioned by the city.
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A social media influencer has been charged with “inciting to riot” after a giveaway in a New York City park erupted in chaos Friday, authorities said.

An NYPD spokesperson said that the video game live-streamer, Kai Cenat had been charged with riot, inciting to riot and and unlawful assembly.

They added that he was issued with a desk appearance ticket that will require him to appear in court at a later date.

Cenat, 21, had been removed from the area for his safety after thousands of mostly young people descended on Manhattan’s Union Square on Friday afternoon, New York City Police Chief Jeffrey Maddrey told reporters earlier on Friday.

Maddrey said that 65 people were arrested. Thirty of them were juveniles, he said.

They were taken into custody after people threw bottles, fireworks, rocks and paint cans that had been taken from a construction site at the park, Maddrey said.

Three officers were injured, he said. A sergeant suffered a broken hand.

“Officers were attacked, we were crushed,” he said, adding that he had been hit with “multiple objects.”

“I personally observed young people having panic attacks, anxiety attacks,” he said. “People were suffering out here.”

On Wednesday, Cenat announced on his Twitch channel that he would host a “huge” giveaway with video game consoles, PCs, keyboards, gaming chairs, headphones and other items.

As of Friday afternoon, the video had more than 2 million views.

The event was supposed to begin at 4 p.m., but by 3 p.m. the park was filled, NBC New York reported.

Maddrey said the event wasn't permitted or sanctioned by the city.

Aerial video showed hundreds of people gathered in the Manhattan park Friday afternoon. The video appeared to capture a skirmish, iand people could be seen standing on cars.

Plainclothes and uniformed officers could be seen surrounding the crowd and a loud bang could be heard at one point.

By 5:30 p.m., the area had begun emptying out and police officers were blocking every entrance. Clusters of teens were laughing, joking and said they didn’t fear for their safety.

One 16-year-old, who identified himself as Rodrigo, said he was a fan of Cenat and came hoping to win money or perhaps a console.

“And then a big storm of people started running and there were cops everywhere,” he said.

Two other teens said they came for the “vibes” and to see Cenat — who one described as the “best person in the world" — but saw pushing, crowding, people throwing things and a child “almost passed out.”

In a statement, AMP, the collective of Black content creators that represents Cenat, apologized to the people and businesses affected in the incident and said it did not condone the behavior.

“Yesterday members of AMP hoped to create a positive experience for fans and give back as a show of appreciation for their support," AMP said. "We’ve hosted fan meet ups and video shoots in the past, but we’ve never experienced anything at the scale of what took place yesterday. We recognize that our audience and influence are growing, and with that comes greater responsibility."

NYPD officials keep a crowd away from Union Square in New York, on Aug. 4, 2023.
NYPD officials keep a crowd away from Union Square in New York, on Friday.NBC New York

Cenat has been a content creator for years, but is best known for streaming gameplay, pranks and comedic reactions on Twitch.

He broke the record for most active subscribers on Twitch in March after completing a 30-day uninterrupted livestream, also known as a subathon.

Cenat is known for his outrageous antics, which have gotten him in some trouble on the platform. He has been temporarily banned from Twitch five times.