Update and Correction: Kai Cenat was not arrested but instead detained by the New York City police. He has since been released. However, he will be charged. No official legal statements have been issued, though. We will update this article with any further developments.
Internet superstar Kai Cenat has been taken into custody by the New York City police following a turbulent scene that unfolded in Manhattan’s Union Square on Friday, 4 August 2023. The chaos ensued from an anticipated video game console giveaway, which quickly spiraled out of control.
Kai Cenat, famed for his extensive following on both Twitch and YouTube platforms, had promoted the event on his Instagram feed. The advert showed a giveaway set for 4 pm ET Friday at the park. Scores of attendees, many of whom were drawn by the promise of a livestreaming computer and a new PlayStation 5, thronged the area.
However, what began as an expected meet-and-greet with the 21-year-old influencer transformed into bedlam. Aerial footage displayed a massive crowd, with some members clambering on vehicles, flinging objects, and initiating physical altercations. Multiple streets around Union Square witnessed blocked traffic, with the police struggling to maintain order amidst the pandemonium.
Reports highlighted several individuals clambering onto moving vehicles and obstructing city buses. By late afternoon, although the police managed to reclaim a large portion of the area, smaller confrontations persisted. According to the NYPD's Chief of Department, there were arrests and injuries, including to police officers. He refrained, however, from disclosing exact figures.
Cenat boasts a staggering 6.5 million followers on Twitch and another 4 million on YouTube and has previously been recognized as the "Streamer of the Year" at the Streamy Awards. As the event escalated, he live-streamed from a vehicle, showcasing the gift cards intended for the giveaway and appealing for safety. He was later seen being escorted from the park "for his safety" before being placed in a police vehicle.
Given the scale and intensity of Friday's events, the police will charge Cenat with at least two counts of unlawful assembly and inciting a riot.