Kai Cenat, the newly-crowned King of Twitch, announced on Instagram and Twitter today that he was doing a "big New York IRL stream" at 3:30 pm ET today, complete with some kind of videogame giveaway. "Be there!" he said, and they were—literally thousands turned out for a shot at seeing the streamer and getting some stuff.
Union Square quickly filled with people, leaving traffic unable to move; police, who according to ABC News had no advance notice of the event, were almost immediately overwhelmed. In fairly short order, the crowd turned unruly, and some minor injuries were reported.
One witness told the site that Cenat was going to hand out PlayStation 5 consoles and accessories, although it's not clear whether any giveaway took place. An SUV that was presumed to be carrying Cenat eventually fled the scene at relatively high speed, with a number of people sitting on or clinging to it; several fell off and landed hard as the vehicle sped away.
Chaos in New York City right now as a gaming streamer, Kai Cenat was doing a giveawayVery large crowds, some destroying windows and propertyKai Cenat is believed to be in this car with people holding onto it leaving the area#breakingnews #kaicenat pic.twitter.com/yxgoHYarScAugust 4, 2023
It's not clear whether Cenat was actually in the car, but police reported shortly afterward that he was no longer in the area. Many in the crowd actually thought the police had put Cenat on a bus to protect him, but the police said it was actually being used to hold and transport people who had been arrested.
Later in the afternoon, Sky News reported that Cenat was "in custody."
BREAKING: YouTuber Kai Cenat is in custody after a game console giveaway event in New York.Latest: https://t.co/YlopqbFkRy📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/NymV9YhlVRAugust 4, 2023
In a press briefing, NYPD chief of department Jeffrey Maddrey said "quite a few" arrests were made, and confirmed that Cenat is currently in custody and being questioned about the event. Maddrey said the NYPD's legal department is looking into possible charges, including inciting a riot. He also suggested the NYPD will look into stepping up its monitoring of social media, saying, "We can't allow this to happen again in the future."
Correction: The article originally indicated that the incident occurred in Times Square. It was actually Union Square.