A crowd of several thousand people — lured by the promise of free PlayStation 5s by a popular Twitch streamer — descended on Union Square in New York City on Friday afternoon, and became violent and uncontrollable, according to police.
The Twitch influencer, Kai Cenat, along with a streamer known as Fanum had encouraged their followers to come to Union Square at 4 p.m. in a social media posts about giving away multiple Sony PlayStation 5 game consoles.
By 3 p.m., Cenat’s post went viral and the park was overrun with people well before Cenat was scheduled to arrive, NYPD officials said at a news conference Friday. The crowd began attacking police and members of the public — throwing rocks, bottles and other debris and setting off fireworks, according to police. Multiple arrests were made among those in the mob. Police said they removed Cenat from the area for his own safety after the crowd grew violent and that he remained in custody Friday evening.
“People were suffering out here — it was uncontrolled — and a lot of young people got hurt,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey said at the news conference. “This speaks to the power of social media and the danger of social media.”
During the unrest, New York subway trains bypassed the 14th Street-Union Square station.
Cenat is the most-subscribed streamer on Twitch, with more than 1000,000 subscribers according to TwitchTracker.
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