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Under the Influencer: Kai Cenat Charged for Inciting a Riot

By A.J. Firstman on August 21, 2023

Your teenage years are a time of growth. A time of learning about yourself, testing your limits, and testing your boundaries as you transition from child to adult. And, if you were living within driving distance of Union Square in New York City this August, it's apparently also a perfect time to start a riot over an influencer giving away a PlayStation.

YouTuber and Twitch streamer Kai Cenat allegedly started a brief but intense riot on August 5th when he called for his followers to come meet him in Union Square. The 21-year-old Cenat had held fan meetups in the past, but there was something unique about the Friday afternoon event: Violence.

What Would You Do for a Free Playstation?

It began with a live stream in which Cenat presented the various gift cards and electronics he planned to give away to his fans. The crowd outside Cenat's car grew in both size and fervor even before the event started, and was already becoming unruly as Cenat's entourage hustled him to the park where the meetup was supposed to take place.

At some point the gathering turned contentious. For reasons known only to the teenagers gathered around Union Square, the closely packed young men started shouting, shoving, and swinging at each other before turning their rage at the surrounding area.

The teens scrambled up the street in a tightly packed mob, wreaking havoc as they went. Many grabbed shovels, axes, and other tools from a nearby construction site. They smashed car windows, set off fire extinguishers, and threw cans of paint at cars and buildings.

The young men swarmed the street, blocking traffic and climbing on personal vehicles and city buses. They got into personal fights with one another and attacked nearby police officers. The NYPD was forced to activate their highest level of disaster response, prompting the deployment of riot police to the scene.

Cenat himself escaped the carnage fairly quickly. Reports and videos show his entourage lifting him over a fence and putting him in a police car which drove away as the silly but harmless event turned idiotic and violent. He later posted news coverage of the chaos to his Instagram story with the caption “I love you guys to the fullest you guys are amazing."

Kai Left but Couldn't Avoid Punishment

By the time the dust settled, some 65 people, including 30 juveniles, had been placed under arrest. Numerous people were injured, including several police officers. The amount of property damage is unknown.

Afterwards NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey confirmed that Cenat was charged with two counts of inciting a riot (a Class A misdemeanor) and unlawful assembly (a Class B misdemeanor), as well as some other unnamed charges. The two named charges carry possible penalties of up to one year and up to 90 days of jail time, respectively, as well as some combination of fines, probation, and community service.

At this early stage, the details of New York City's case are unclear, as is how Cenat intends to defend against any charges. The relevant statute defines the offense as urging ten or more people "to engage in tumultuous and violent conduct of a kind likely to create public alarm."

Your teen years are a great time to do stupid things and learn from your mistakes. Just, you know, don't start a riot.

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