UNION SQUARE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Twitch streamer Kai Cenat will be charged with inciting a riot and unlawful assembly after a massive crowd descended into chaos during his video game console giveaway event at Union Square in Manhattan on Friday, police said.
“[Cenat] is going to be charged with multiple counts. At least two counts of inciting a riot, unlawful assembly and a few other charges,” said NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey.
A massive crowd estimated to be in the thousands gathered at Union Square Park Friday afternoon, prompting police to respond in riot gear as tensions soared, objects were hurled and property was damaged.
The streets were clogged with people. Some people were knocked down and bloodied from stampeding in the crowd. Beer bottles were thrown, cops were pelted with objects, fireworks were set off, and a construction site was overturned.
Maddrey said he witnessed people with bloodied heads and faces emerging from the crowd.
“People were suffering out here. A lot of young people got hurt,” Maddrey said during a briefing. “We’re not against young people having a good time … but it can’t be to this level.”
Maddrey said 65 people — including 30 juveniles — were arrested as police tried to bring the crowd under control.
Witnesses said they were waiting for Cenat, a popular YouTuber and Twitch streamer. On Thursday, Cenat tweeted that he would be heading to Union Square Park at 4 p.m. for a giveaway. The crowd quickly grew as word of the event spread on social media.
Cenat was taken into custody and questioned by police after the mayhem broke out, police said.
A witness told PIX11 News the crowd turned into a moshpit, with people throwing chairs, garbage cans, umbrellas, basketballs, and fruit. People could be seen jumping on parked cars.
“It was the uttermost chaos,” the witness said on PIX11 News at 4 p.m. “We had to run for our lives due to a stampede … It was really scary.”
The NYPD declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, Maddrey said. Police descended on the scene to try to bring control and order. Officers set off a smoke bomb to help disperse the crowd.
“We have encountered things like this before, but never to this level of dangerousness where young people would not listen to our commands, they were fighting each other, they were hurting each other,” Maddrey said.
NYPD officers were hit with rocks, bottles and other objects, according to Maddrey, who said some officers sustained injuries.
“Individuals in the park began to commit acts of violence toward the police and the public,” Maddrey said. “Officers were attacked. We were crushed. We were pushed. I had officers on the floor … I was in the middle of the crowd. I was hit with multiple objects as well.”
Former deputy police chief John Cutter spoke to PIX11 News about the chaos. He said part of the problem likely was that the crowd was there for a giveaway that did not deliver.
“Clearly, they weren’t going to give away 2,000 PlayStations or Switches or whatever they were giving away,” Cutter said. “So you’re going to have a lot of disgruntled people, a lot of people who are not happy that they aren’t getting something. And it’s just creating that little bit of chaos where all it takes is a little spark to ignite something like this.”
As of around 6 p.m., the crowd continued to diminish and become more under control.
Some businesses around Union Square shut down for the night over fears of looting.
PIX11 News reached out to Cenat’s talent representatives for a statement but did not immediately receive a response.