Social media influencer Kai Cenat faces charges of inciting a riot and promoting an unlawful gathering in New York City after he drew thousands of his followers, many of them teenagers, with promises of giving away electronics, including a new PlayStation. The event produced chaos, with dozens of people arrested — some jumping atop vehicles, hurling bottles and throwing punches, the Associated Press reports. Cenat was released Saturday from police custody after being issued a desk appearance ticket to appear in court. The mayhem in New York City’s Union Square Friday afternoon focused attention on the hold social media influencers have on the people who follow and fawn over them. “Our children cannot be raised by social media,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
Police arrested 65 people, including 30 juveniles. Several people were injured; at least four were taken away in ambulances. “I don’t think people realize the level of discipline that we showed to take a very dangerous, volatile situation and to be able to bring it to a level of resolve without any loss of life or any substantial damage to property and without young people harming themselves,” Adams said. Cenat, 21, is a video creator with 6.5 million followers on the platform Twitch, where he regularly livestreams. He boasts 4 million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts daily life and comedy vlogs. Media representatives for AMP, which represents Cenat and a other influencers, said the Union Square event was intended to show appreciation to fans. The company said, “We are deeply disheartened by the outbreak of disorderly conduct that affected innocent people and businesses.” Chief Jeffrey Maddrey of the New York Police Department 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 placed in a police vehicle.