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What We Know About the Chaos Caused by a Twitch Star’s Giveaway

A gathering of thousands of people in Manhattan’s Union Square Park on Friday quickly became an unruly scene, with dozens of police officers called to quell the chaos.

Many in the crowd were looking to get free video game consoles that would be handed out by a popular social media streamer. However, by Friday evening, the police had arrested dozens of people, including the live-streamer who organized the event, Kai Carlo Cenat III, who was charged with inciting a riot.

Here’s what we know.

Kai Carlo Cenat III and a fellow streamer, Fanum, recently told their millions of followers that they would give away PlayStation 5 consoles at Union Square Park on Friday at 4 p.m.

The police said the streamers had not acquired a permit to hold the huge gathering.

Throngs of young people had formed at the park by 3 p.m., according to the police. But the crowd soon grew “exponentially” and began to spill onto the nearby streets, blocking pedestrians and cars.

Most of those in the crowd were peaceful, but some people were unruly, especially as the scheduled giveaway time passed, the police said.

Around 4 p.m., some people in the crowd began to hurl objects including building materials, rocks and bottles at one another, the police said. Fireworks also popped in the crowd.

One cluster of people stormed a construction site. Another group pushed back against police officers carrying riot shields as they tried to move in to make arrests.

Images from the scene showed people climbing onto cars stuck in the crowd, stopping traffic and banging on vehicles while others threw objects.

At 20th Street, some in the crowd sat on wicker chairs belonging to a restaurant; at 22nd Street, dozens of young people stormed through a CVS to grab water and food for others.

As the police pressed the crowd up Park Avenue, some people vandalized cars, storefronts and food carts, officials said.

The chaotic gathering ended around 6 p.m.

Mayor Eric Adams said on Saturday that it was possible that “outside agitators” had attempted “to aggravate the situation.”

The police said that officers had arrested 65 people, nearly half of whom were juveniles.

Mr. Cenat, 21, is a popular YouTube creator and Twitch streamer from New York City who is known for his high-energy videos and boisterous personality. He is among the most-watched streamers on Twitch, and his fan base is mostly young people. Mr. Cenat’s videos include reactions to songs and trailers, parodies, internet challenges and video game streams.

Rolling Stone named him one of the 20 most influential creators of 2023.

On Friday, Mr. Cenat posted a video about the unruliness at Union Square Park. In the video, which is titled “Kai Cenat Shuts Down New York City,” Mr. Cenat is in a vehicle, secluded from the apparent uproar outside.

“It’s a lot of y’all out there right now,” he says in the eight-minute video. It is unclear what time he filmed it. “Everybody who is out there, make sure y’all are safe.”

Mr. Cenat was charged with first-degree rioting, a felony, as well as inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, which are misdemeanors, according to a city spokesman. Mr. Cenat was released from police custody soon after and given a court appearance date.

Hurubie Meko contributed reporting.

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