A prominent gaming influencer Kai Cenat known for streaming on Twitch is now under arrest following a chaotic giveaway event that drew a large crowd of young people, sparking riots in Manhattan's Union Square.
The event, hosted by Kai Cenat, a hugely popular online streamer, got out of hand well before 4 p.m. beginning. Law enforcement estimates indicate the crowd swelled to "several thousand people."
During a Wednesday Twitch stream, Cenat, who has over 4 million followers on YouTube, over 5 million on Instagram, and 6.5 million on Twitch, announced that he will be hosting a "huge giveaway" in Union Square Park on Friday at 4 p.m.
Cenat had urged his online followers to gather at Union Square, where he planned to distribute PlayStation consoles, gift cards and other free items.
The exact trigger for the crowd riot remains unclear, but at 3:30 p.m., people were observed throwing debris at police and dismantling barriers around the area. Witnesses recounted cases in which chairs and bottles were thrown. One individual suffered a bruise to his face, claiming that he was forcefully pushed to the ground.
The melee prompted the New York Police Department (NYPD) to initiate its highest level of mobilization. According to a spokesperson, approximately 1,000 officers were deployed to deal with the escalating situation.
Who is Kai Cenat?
Kai Carlo Cenat III, born December 16, 2001, is an American live streamer and YouTuber recognized for his engaging content on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. His popularity skyrocketed when he claimed the title of most subscribed Twitch streamer in February 2023, surpassing Ludwig's previous record by a subathon. Most notably, he was honored with the "Streamer of the Year" award at the 12th Streamy Awards, as well as the 2023 Streamer Awards.
However, on August 4, 2023, the Cenat-hosted giveaway in Union Square, Manhattan, escalated into a riot, resulting in injuries to multiple people. The New York City Police Department later took Cenat into custody, charging him with first-degree riot, inciting a riot, and unlawful assembly. The tumultuous event led to the arrest of 65 others involved in the riot.
During his formative years, Cenat was part of a family of four siblings, including a younger brother named Kaleel, an older brother named Devonte, and a twin sister named Kaia. He attended Frederick Douglass Academy for his secondary education, graduating from high school in 2019. Following this, he began studies in Business Administration at the State University of New York at Morrisville in August 2019. However, the demanding balance between academics and content creation led him to withdraw from university in 2020.
Cenat's foray into content creation began with his debut video on YouTube on January 13, 2018, marked by pranks and challenge-based content. His involvement with the YouTube group AMP (Any Means Possible) came after he was discovered by fellow Bronx-born YouTuber Fanum. Making the transition to Twitch in February 2021 from YouTube, Cenat embarked on streaming gaming and reaction content.
Mayor suspects external influence, parenting
During a press conference on Saturday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams suggested that "influential outsiders" may have deliberately tried to make the situation worse. He said, "You don't come here to get free GameBoys and bring smoke bombs and bring M-80s." Mayor Adams stressed that the incident, which had the potential to escalate dangerously, is more of a parenting issue than a policing issue, saying, "This is a parenting issue."
Police Commissioner Maddrey noted that several officers sustained injuries during the chaotic event and a significant number of people were arrested as police worked to disperse the crowd. Maddrey, who personally got caught up in the chaos, expressed concern, saying: "I was hit with multiple objects."
Regarding parental involvement, Maddrey expressed the wish that more parents would step in to control disorderly crowds. He revealed that 65 people were arrested, including 30 minors, and stressed that both the youths and the police personal were injured during the incident.
Cenat faces charges of inciting a riot and illegal assembly, among other charges, according to the chief.
Maddrey underscored the importance of communication between influencers and law enforcement prior to such events. He stressed that influential people need to collaborate with law enforcement to ensure proper security measures, such as barriers and additional officers, are in place.
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