On Friday, a prominent social media broadcaster was charged with inciting a riot after an event in Manhattan’s Union Square Park where he planned to give away video game consoles devolved into chaos, drawing a throng believed to be several thousand young people.
Kai Carlo Cenat III, the live streamer involved in the disturbance, was also anticipated to face charges for illegal assembly and maybe additional offenses, Police Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey stated at a press conference late on Friday.
According to authorities, the incident, which started just after 3 p.m. and was essentially ended by 6 p.m., resulted in 65 arrests, over half of which were of teenagers, injuries to some of the crowd members and police officers, as well as damage to food carts, police cars, and storefronts.
“It was out of control. We struggled for a time to contain it. One of two press conferences conducted after the park was cleaned up included Chief Maddrey appearing in front of a trash-covered plaza. “And a lot of young people got hurt,” he said.
At 4 p.m., Mr. Cenat and another streamer named Fanum had prepared to distribute gaming consoles in the park.
The two belong to the streaming collective AMP, which has throng followers on Twitch and YouTube. The YouTube channel Mr. Cenat has more than 3.6 million subscribers.
According to Chief Maddrey, the event was unplanned and took place without a license from the city. Around noon, he said, a social media post informed the police of the gathering. He said that by 3 p.m., “the post had gone viral.”
He said that at that time, “the event grew exponentially, rapidly, vast.”
Young people quickly filled the park to capacity and overflowed into the nearby streets and sidewalks, impeding traffic and obstructing pedestrians. Union Square Greenmarket, which is well-known, closed early. Trains on the subway started avoiding the Union Square stop.
The Police Department started a degree 4 mobilization, its maximum degree of reaction, as 4 o’clock neared and the crowd got agitated. Some of the audience remained calm, while others became unruly.
The chief claimed that a group of individuals invaded a work site before tossing rocks, bottles, and construction items at one another.
He said that other people had been igniting fireworks and hurling them toward police and other people. “You had people walking around with shovels, axes and other tools of the construction trade,” he claimed.
The chaos grew as the giveaway time passed without happening as planned.
Fireworks, a computer, water bottles, and basketballs flew through the audience. As police moved in to make arrests, one group of young people resisted the riot shield-wielding police officers.
Almost 200 individuals gathered around a flagpole in the park and chanted foul language at the cops. Images from the situation showed individuals boarding automobiles entrapped in the throng.
The mob started “committing acts of violence against the police and the public,” according to Chief Maddrey.
Many of these young people, he claimed, “were not obeying our orders.” They wished to see this influencer very much.
By 5 o’clock, the police had moved most of the throng onto Park Avenue, blocking both lanes of traffic, pounding on cars, and throwing objects. Those who disobeyed orders to advance along the avenue were tackled and arrested.
A boy shouted at an officer, “That’s my friend you’re arresting!” That boy is mine.
“You also want to be arrested?” An officer grabbed the adolescent, brought them to the ground, and placed them in zip-tie handcuffs.
As numerous helicopters flew overhead, the police drove a group of young people along the avenue, advancing a block at a time every several minutes.
A mass of people being taken north collectively kneeled and began chanting “Black Lives Matter” near 19th Street.
They sat in wicker chairs outside an expensive restaurant near 20th Street as staff members watched from inside and shut the doors. Hundreds of teens attacked a CVS shoponthe 22nd and took candy, water bottles, and other goodies before passing them out to others in the throng.
When we began removing the young people from this area, Chief Maddrey claimed that they raced around the city’s streets stealing plates from individuals dining outside.
Before making any arrests, officers gave the throng multiple chances to leave, according to the chief. A city bus was attacked as people attempted to release those being transported after police placed some of the persons they had detained aboard.
After being transported to safety, Mr. Cenat was being investigated by police to see if he should be charged with “inciting a riot,” according to Chief Maddrey.
This demonstrates both the strength and risk of social media, he added.
A statement from Mr. Cenat could only be obtained after some time.
Josh Ortiz, anaudience member who resides in Brownsville, Brooklyn, claimed to have come to the park to witness the two YouTube stars.
Mr. Ortiz, 18, said, “I simply came out because I wanted to see them. Many youngsters believed they could acquire a free PC or game console and earn money, but I wanted to see Kai. He is currently America’s top Black creator.
He claimed that while conditions had been calm initially, a few individuals had “started going crazy.”
It’s annoying and kind of hilarious,” he remarked. “There was a big explosion just a second ago, but if you know, as I do, that it’s just kids with fireworks, then it kind of gets funny.”
Mr. Ortiz said that Mr. Cenat was partially responsible for the mayhem.
He said, “It’s kind of Kai’s fault,” saying the occasion “wasn’t planned well” and Mr. Cenat might have picked “a more open area.”
Many teens surrounded the entrance of a local Best Buy shop while the incident in the park was taking place, leading employees to shut the doors.
A 21-year-old gamer from Queens who will only go by the name Zap stated, “These guys are huge.” He claimed that when Mr. Cenat announced the offer a few days prior, 90,000 people followed his live stream.
A 20-year-old student from Brooklyn named Adam Mass said he had arrived at the park after hearing about the commotion.
Mr. Mass added of the two streamers he called a “big deal,” “I heard they were out here.”
“I didn’t even want to get a giveaway,” he said. “However, I knew something was happening, so we came here.”