Kai Cenat: Twitch streamer arrested for New York PlayStation 5 riot - who is he and what did he do?

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'We’re not against young people having a good time... [but] a lot of people got hurt today'

A prolific Twitch livestreamer has caused chaos in New York City after they promised to hand out hundreds of sought after PlayStation 5 games consoles to fans.

Police made 65 arrests and said they plan to charge livestreamer Kai Cenat with inciting a riot after thousands packed Manhattan’s Union Square for the hyped giveaway.

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Cenat promoted his giveaway on Instagram and social media, telling his followers and subscribers - which number over 10 million - he would be dishing out 300 consoles to fans from 4pm in the New York park.

What happened?

Queues began to form as early as 1.30pm, with the crowd swelling by 3pm and some becoming unruly. Aerial TV news footage showed a surging, tightly packed crowd running through the streets, scaling structures in the park and climbing on vehicles.

By 5.30pm, police officers in growing numbers had regained control of much of the area, but small skirmishes were still breaking out, with young people knocking over barricades and throwing bottles and even a flowerpot at officers.

People gather around and cheer for Kai Cenat (C) as members of the NYPD respond to thousands of people gathered for a 'giveaway' event announced by that popular Twitch live streamer (Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)People gather around and cheer for Kai Cenat (C) as members of the NYPD respond to thousands of people gathered for a 'giveaway' event announced by that popular Twitch live streamer (Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
People gather around and cheer for Kai Cenat (C) as members of the NYPD respond to thousands of people gathered for a 'giveaway' event announced by that popular Twitch live streamer (Photo: Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Police were seen wrestling people to the ground and chasing them down the street. Of those arrested, 30 were juveniles. Some young people leaving the park said they had gone expecting to get a computer or a new PlayStation.

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Skylark Jones, 19, who went with a friend, said the scene was already packed when they arrived and bottles were being thrown before police with riot shields began “charging at people”.

NYPD chief Jeffrey Maddrey said police planned to charge Cenat with multiple counts of inciting a riot, unlawful assembly and possibly other crimes. He said a number of people were injured, including at least four people taken away in ambulances, and police vehicles were damaged.

The police chief also said a city bus filled with people who were arrested came under attack, and more police had to be sent to protect it. “We have encountered things like this before but never to this level of dangerousness,” Maddrey said.

Three officers were hurt, including a sergeant who broke a hand, and a teenager was injured by exploding fireworks, he said.

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“Listen, we’re not against young people having a good time, we’re not against young people gathering. But it can’t be to this level where it’s dangerous. A lot of people got hurt today.”

Who is Kai Cenat?

Cenat, 21, is a video creator with 6.5 million followers on Twitch - the Amazon-owned video streaming platform that typically sees streamers play video games whilst chatting to viewers - where he regularly livestreams.

He also boasts four million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts daily life and comedy vlogs ranging from “Fake Hibachi Chef Prank!” to his most recent video, “I Rented Us Girlfriends In Japan!”

His 299 YouTube videos have amassed more than 276 million views. In December he was crowned streamer of the year at the 12th annual Streamy Awards.

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Livestreaming on Twitch from a vehicle as the event gathered steam, Cenat displayed gift cards he planned to give away. He urged: “Everybody who’s out there, make sure y’all safe. We’re not gonna do nothin’ until it’s safe.”

Eventually he and an entourage got out of the vehicle and went through the crowd, into the park, where Cenat was surrounded by a cheering, shoving mob. Maddrey said Cenat was removed “for his safety” and police were in contact with him.

Videos posted on social media and taken from news helicopters showed Cenat being lifted over a fence and out of the crowd and then placed in a police vehicle.

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