New York: A major chaos erupted in Union Square Park in New York on Friday, after thousands of people descended on the area, drawn by the chance to receive video game consoles being given away by social media influencer Kai Cenat, New York Times reported.
According to police, the number of people who thronged the park in Manhattan was several thousand.
Dozens of people were arrested in the incident that left several police officers injured.
The social media influencer Kai Cenat has been charged with inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, CNN reported.
Cenat, who has over 4 million followers on YouTube, over 5 million on Instagram, and 6.5 million on Twitch, said during a Wednesday Twitch stream that he would be hosting a “huge giveaway” Friday at 4 pm (local time) in Union Square Park, CNN reported.
In the stream, he said they would be giving away computers, Play Station 5s, microphones, keyboards, webcams, gaming chairs, headphones and gift cards from a truck in Union Square. “I feel like New York really deserves it,” he said.
Cenat said during his Wednesday stream that attendees would be able to win prizes by correctly answering “random questions” related to YouTube and streaming. “If you get it right, boom, you get a PS5, just like that,” he said.
Thousands of people began gathering at the park around 3 pm, New York Police Department (NYPD) chief Jeffrey Maddrey said at a Friday news conference.
“Soon the park and the surrounding streets were overrun with people, obstructing vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” CNN quoted Maddrey as saying.
The crowds spurred the NYPD to activate a “Level 4” response, its highest level of disaster response. The department earlier announced that they had activated a “Level 2” response to handle the crowds and clear the area.
Maddrey said that as the crowd grew, “individuals in the park began to commit acts of violence towards the police and the public.” He said that some attendees also took items from a nearby construction site.
“You had people walking around with shovels, axes, and other tools from the construction,” he said. “Individuals were also lighting fireworks, throwing them towards the police, they were throwing them towards each other.”
At least 65 people have been arrested, which included 30 juveniles, CNN reported citing Maddrey saying at a Friday night news conference.
Cenat has been charged with two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, among other charges, the police chief said.