Kai Cenat, a social media influencer, is facing accusations in New York City of inciting a riot and organising an unlawful gathering after the internet streamer gathered thousands of his followers, many of whom were minors, with promises of giving away goods, including a new PlayStation. Hundreds of individuals were arrested as a result of the event, with some jumping atop automobiles, hurling bottles, and throwing fists.
Cenat was released from police custody early Saturday after being issued a desk appearance ticket, which requires a suspect to appear in court to answer charges. According to a police spokesperson, he is scheduled to appear in court on August 18.
The chaos in New York City’s Union Square on Friday afternoon highlighted the power that social media influencers have over those who follow and adore them.
“Our children cannot be raised by social media,” Mayor Eric Adams said Saturday during a press briefing on an unrelated crime.
According to police, 65 persons were arrested, including 30 minors. Several persons were injured, some of them had bleeding faces. Four persons were transported in ambulances.
“I don’t think people realize the level of discipline that we showed to take a very dangerous, volatile situation and to be able to bring it to a level of resolve without any loss of life or any substantial damage to property and without young people harming themselves,” Adams said.
Cenat, 21, is a video creator with 6.5 million followers on the platform Twitch, where he regularly livestreams. He also boasts 4 million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts daily life and comedy vlogs ranging from “Fake Hibachi Chef Prank!” to his most recent video, “I Rented Us Girlfriends In Japan!”
His 299 YouTube videos have received more than 276 million views. He was named streamer of the year at the 12th annual Streamy Awards in December. Messages made to his publicist, management company, and an email address for business queries were not replied quickly.
Cenat showed gift cards he planned to give out while livestreaming on Twitch from a truck as the event grew in popularity. Observing the throng and police presence, he advised, “Everyone who’s out there, make sure you’re safe….” We’re not going to do anything until everything is safe.”
He and his entourage eventually exited the truck and dashed through a crowd, across a street, and into the park, where Cenat was mobbed by a cheering, shoving mob.
Cenat was evacuated “for his safety” at some point in the afternoon, according to New York authorities Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, and authorities were in contact with him. Cenat was hoisted over a barrier and out of the throng in videos aired on social media and captured from news helicopters. He was then placed in a police vehicle.
Aerial TV news footage showed a swarming, densely packed mob fleeing through the streets, mounting park facilities, and clogging traffic. Teenagers yelled and swung things at car windows, flung paint cans, and set fire extinguishers off. Some others climbed onto a moving car, only to fall off as it accelerated away. Others pounced on or scaled city buses.
Skylark Jones, 19, likened the scene to “a movie,” as police arrived with riot gear and began, he said, “charging at people.”
Jones attended with a friend in the hopes of winning one of the prizes. When they arrived, the situation was already crowded, and things were getting out of hand even before Cenat arrived, he added.
According to Maddrey, three officers were injured.
“We have encountered things like this before but never to this level of dangerousness,” Maddrey said.
“Listen, we’re not against young people having a good time, we’re not against young people gathering,” Maddrey said. “But it can’t be to this level where it’s dangerous. A lot of people got hurt today.”