During a press conference on Saturday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams stated that he believes “outside agitators” were largely responsible for the riot involving thousands of young people that unfolded in Manhattan’s Union Square over the weekend.
Asked about the incident – sparked by what intended to be a PlayStation giveaway organized by Twitch influencer Kai Cenat – Adams noted that the influencer “had a substantial number of followers” and “people came from outside of the city to be there.”
“We are further looking into were there even some outside agitators. You don’t come to get free Game Boys and bring smoke bombs and bring M-80s and bring other disruptive items,” Adams said. “We believe there were some outside influencers that may have attempted to aggravate this situation.”
Cenat, a 21-year-old social media influencer who boasts more than 13 million followers across platforms that include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch, had advertised a giveaway of a PlayStation and other electronics in Union Square. The NYPD said thousands of kids and young people showed up, and the Friday afternoon event produced chaos.
Video that circulated online showed some young people jumping atop vehicles, hurling bottles and throwing punches. Other footage showed crowds chanting vulgar anti-NYPD slogans.
At a press conference Friday night, NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said 65 people were arrested, 30 of them juveniles. He said the giveaway event, which was not sanctioned or permitted, grew “exponentially, rapidly, fast” from just about 300 attendees to thousands in a short time frame.
“We wanted the kids to just comply with us and leave, but we were met with a lot of resistance. We were attacked,” Maddrey said. “My older brother just called and said he saw video of me getting hit in the head with an object. It was a very tough situation out here, and I really have to commend the women and men of this department, the level of restraint they showed in addressing these young people.”
Maddrey said young people destroyed NYPD vehicles, including his own, damaged food carts and grabbed plates from people dining outside on the street and threw them at officers. At least one person, a 17-year-old, was at Bellevue Hospital with injuries determined to be from fireworks debris.