A crowd gathering for a giveaway sponsored by a popular Twitch streamer turned violent Friday, leading to multiple arrests and injuries.
Police estimate that several thousand people gathered in Union Square anticipating a “HUGE GIVEAWAY” sponsored by social media influencer Kai Cenat. The giveaway was reportedly set to include free PlayStation consoles and gift cards, per NBC New York. Though the giveaway was scheduled for 4:00 p.m., crowds began to gather in the square an hour early, and by 3:30 chaos had already ensued, the outlet reported.
🚨#BREAKING: Twitch streamer Influencer Giveaway Sparks a massive Riot in Union Square park
Right now, a huge riot is currently happening at Union Square Park in Manhattan, New York. Hundreds of young teens and adults have gathered after a Twitch live… pic.twitter.com/6WynfWFlDB
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) August 4, 2023
Though it remains unclear what sparked the mayhem, witnesses reported seeing individuals in the crowd tearing down construction barriers and throwing garbage and bottles at the more than 1,000 police officers who responded to the riot, CBS News reported. Members of the crowd also clambered onto the gazebo of a nearby subway station and climbed onto a statue of George Washington riding a horse, according to ABC 7 News. (RELATED: German Influencers Accused Of Destroying 150-Year-Old Statue In Social Media Stunt)
A car, believed to be carrying Cenat, was briefly mobbed by the crowd before eventually speeding off, the outlet reported. Police took multiple people into custody during the fray which started to die down at approximately 4:40 p.m, but not after many people sustained injuries, ABC 7 News reported.
“I personally observed young people walking out with their heads- bleeding from their heads, bleeding from on their faces. I personally observed young people having panic attacks, anxiety attacks, asthma attacks. People were suffering out here. It was a lot of people, it was uncontrolled, it took us awhile to get it under control, and a lot of young people got hurt,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey stated, according to the outlet.
Cenat was later taken into police custody for questioning, as he reportedly did not have a permit for the gathering, according to CBS News.