Union Square Park in Manhattan witnessed a chaotic scene on Friday as thousands of young people descended upon the area, allured by the chance to receive video game consoles being given away by two popular YouTube streamers. The event, organized by Kai Carlo Cenat III and Fanum, members of the streaming group AMP, was promoted on social media and quickly went viral, drawing an unexpectedly massive crowd.
✅Uncontrolled Situation: Injuries and Arrests
As the police struggled to control the situation, chaos ensued throughout the park, leading to multiple injuries and numerous arrests. By 6 p.m., officers had dispersed the crowd, but not before “quite a few” people were arrested, and some officers and attendees suffered injuries that were still being evaluated. Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey expressed concern over the number of young people hurt during the melee.
🔹Social Media’s Power and Danger
The event, which lacked a city permit and occurred spontaneously, exemplified the influence of social media in mobilizing large crowds. The Police Department learned of the gathering through a viral social media post around 1:30 p.m., and within hours, Union Square Park was packed with hordes of young people. Chief Maddrey emphasized the need to recognize both the power and danger of social media in such situations.
🧩Level 4 Mobilization: Unruliness and Violent Acts
As 4 p.m. approached, and the crowd’s anticipation grew, the police initiated a Level 4 mobilization, their highest-level response, to address the increasing unruliness. While parts of the crowd remained mostly peaceful, some individuals engaged in violent acts. A cluster of people stormed a construction site, hurling building materials, rocks, and bottles at each other and the police. Others were seen carrying shovels, axes, and fireworks, escalating tensions further.
🔴Delayed Giveaway and Escalating Pandemonium
The scheduled giveaway time came and went without the distribution of PlayStation 5 consoles, leading to heightened pandemonium. Attendees started throwing water bottles, basketballs, and even fireworks through the crowd. Some resisted arrest attempts, while others chanted vulgarities directed at the police. Images showed people climbing onto cars stuck in the packed crowd.
💥Park Avenue Overflow and Confrontations
By 5 p.m., the police had pushed most of the crowd onto Park Avenue, where hundreds of young people flooded both lanes, stopping traffic and damaging property. Refusing to obey police commands, some individuals were tackled and taken into custody. Tensions rose as attendees attempted to interfere with arrests, further challenging law enforcement efforts.
💎A Chant of Solidarity: “Black Lives Matter”
Amidst the chaos, a group of attendees took a knee and started chanting “Black Lives Matter” at 19th Street, showcasing the complex emotions and diverse motivations behind the massive gathering. At 20th Street, attendees sat outside an upscale restaurant, while dozens of teenagers stormed through a CVS store at 22nd Street, looting and distributing stolen items within the crowd.
📌Blame Game: Streamer’s Role in Chaos
As the scene unfolded, attendees voiced varying opinions about the event’s organization. Some, like Josh Ortiz from Brooklyn, attended peacefully to see the YouTube personalities. However, he acknowledged that some individuals in the crowd contributed to the chaos and held Kai Carlo Cenat III partly responsible for the lack of proper planning and venue selection.
🙏Social Media’s Impact: A Cautionary Tale
The event’s aftermath left injuries, arrests, and potential criminal charges against one of the social media stars involved in summoning the crowd. The incident serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the power and dangers of social media in mobilizing large crowds without proper planning and permits. The Union Square Park chaos raises important questions about event management and the responsibility of online influencers when hosting public gatherings.