Twitch streamer Kai Cenat was issued a desk appearance ticket Friday night and walked free from a Manhattan precinct after “encouraging” a mob of young fans to descend upon Union Square Park, where all hell broke loose.
The influencer, who has more than 20 million followers, was expected to face two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly in connection to the Friday afternoon mayhem, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said at a press conference.
It wasn’t immediately clear if those charges were ultimately filed. The 21-year-old live streamed left the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side early Saturday morning and was hustled into waiting black SUV without commenting to the media.
Cenat hadn’t obtained a permit for his gaming accessory giveaway in in the park Friday afternoon and the event quickly morphed into violent chaos as thousands of young fans stormed the surrounding streets.
Sixty-five others were taken into custody throughout the three-hour melee, 30 of whom were juveniles.
Videos show the rioters tossing cones, bottles and rocks at one another, as well as innocent passersby and responding officers.
According to Maddrey, at least three cops and four civilians were injured in the anarchy.
One 17-year-old was taken to the hospital with what authorities initially believed was a gunshot wound, but was later discovered to be injuries sustained after the teen was hit with fireworks that a rioter tossed into the crowd.
“I personally saw other people leaving here with their heads split open, cuts bruises, lacerations … There’ll be more injuries before this evening’s over,” Maddrey said, adding that he himself was also hit in the head and in one of his legs.
The crowd also destroyed food carts, stores and several police cruisers, including the chief of department’s.
“When we started clearing the young people out here, the young people ran through the streets of the city, taking plates off of people who were outside dining. (They were) throwing plates at police officers,” Maddrey said.
Cops said they became aware of the unsanctioned event around 12:30 p.m. — shortly after Cenat announced the impromptu gathering on Twitch, saying he planned to give out free PlayStation 5s, computers, microphones and other gaming accessories.
A crowd of about 300 showed up around 1:30 p.m., but the swarm “grew exponentially, rapidly fast” thanks to the “power of social media,” Maddrey said.
By the time Cenat arrived at 3:30, he was immediately mobbed by thousands of cheering fans.
“As the crowd grew, our response grew,” the NYPD boss said.
“A lot of these young people, they were not following our orders. They really wanted to see this influencer. It got to the point where we were able to get the influencer out and, at that point, we were trying to take control of the scene.”
“You’re talking about a very dangerous, chaotic situation,” Maddrey said, adding that the officers had to be “delicate” with how they handled the kids.
The NYPD was finally able to quell the riot after taking Cenat into custody.
It is unknown if the influencer was able to give away any of the gaming swag before he was whisked to safety.
Aerial footage showed the mob flooding the streets, with some teens using barricades to stop the cops. They also tossed bottles, eggs and construction equipment, screaming: “F–k the PD” and “suck my d–k.”
Others were seen throwing garbage cans at police officers, smashing passenger cars and climbing on MTA buses.
Some rioters were spotted carrying axes and shovels as they weaved through the crowd.
Maddrey believes the event wouldn’t have flown out of hand if it had been organized through the proper municipal channels, allowing the NYPD the time to set up barriers and deploy an appropriate police presence.
But he places some of the blame on the parents, whom he called to intervene in their children’s social lives, especially when it involves social media.
“There were parents who came up and said, ‘I believe my child is in there. I want to get my child out of there,” Maddrey said.
“But I had thousands of kids out here. I needed thousands of parents out here. We don’t want to do this. We want our young people to come out and have fun. But when it gets to the point of disorderly, we want the parents to take control and let us take a step back.”
The chief urged teens to “enjoy their lives” — without getting out of hand.
“This is what it’s all about. … Young people, when you come to an event like this — come and have a good time. But when it’s time to leave, it doesn’t mean it’s time for you to go out and destroy things.”