According to the New York Police Department, Kai Cenat will be charged for inciting violence and an unlawful gathering in Manhattan, on Friday. Thousands of young people descended on New York’s Union Square on Friday after Cenat promised to give away free video game consoles and other prizes.
ABC 7 reported that people in the crowd jumped on cars, threw chairs, and even slapped police officers. According to NYPD, food carts and cop cars were damaged as well. The NYPD reported that at least 65 people, including children, were arrested during the chaos.
“This event grew rapidly, fast. And, again, this is the power of social media,” NYPD chief of department Jeffrey Maddrey said at a press conference on Friday evening, noting that the video game giveaway wasn’t a permitted event.
“We wanted the kids to just comply with us and leave. But we were attacked,” Maddrey continued.
Cenat, who’s 21 years old, was taken into custody but it’s not yet clear whether the influencer has been formally charged. According to NYPD, a 17-year old was admitted with an injury caused by fireworks that was reported as a firearm wound in some media. This was not accurate.
Maddrey emphasized in multiple ways during his press conference held on Friday, that social networks are a force that organizes people and can quickly get out of control.
“We went from 300 kids to thousand kids to a couple thousand kids in minutes. Minutes,” Maddrey stressed.
Cenat’s livestreams of video game play on Twitch are his most popular. However, it was a Facebook post that inspired his followers to come out in Manhattan this Friday. NBC News reports that the Wednesday post had received over 2 million hits by Friday. The message encouraged fans to show up at 4 p.m. ET. That Instagram post is no longer available on the social media site, which is owned by Meta, though it’s not clear if Cenat himself deleted the post.
Cenat was livestreaming as he approached a crowd of New Yorkers. He was offering gift cards and other prizes, such as a Playstation, along with the promise to giveaway the Twitch platform.
“We can’t let this happen here. We can’t let this happen with our young people,” Maddrey said. “So, again, I have to implore the parents. We need your help with this.”
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