At a time when YouTubers and streamers have ascended to A-List levels of fame, Kai Cenat has undoubtedly shifted how Internet celebrities are viewed in 2023. He’s undoubtedly gained a massive following, one that earned him millions of followers on YouTube, Twitch, and other platforms. As a result, his livestreams have become a go-to destination for plenty of rappers during their promo runs. Drake and Nicki Minaj have shown him the utmost praise for his incredible feats on Twitch while artists like NLE Choppa and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie have appeared on his streams on several occasions.
However, the great success that he’s seen in recent times hasn’t gone without controversy and trouble. Kai Cenat and his fellow AMP colleague, Fanum, attempted to give back to their community in New York City with a planned giveaway of five PS5s. Thousands gathered in Manhattan's Union Square Park, transforming what began as an attempt to distribute free PlayStation 5 consoles into a tumultuous scene that required police intervention. The event quickly spiraled into chaos, leading to dozens of arrests and charges against Cenat for inciting a riot.
The Flash Mob That Backfired
Kai Cenat, alongside fellow AMP streamer Fanum, took to social media to announce their intention to give away coveted PlayStation 5 consoles in Union Square Park. However, this impromptu flash mob lacked proper permitting, setting the stage for trouble. By 3 p.m., a swelling crowd had formed in the park, but tensions mounted as more people packed in. The majority of the attendees remained peaceful and hoped to catch Kai Cenat in the flesh, if only to nab a PS5. But, an incredibly vocal minority stirred up trouble. Reports claim that the crowd began to act aggressively by stopping traffic, climbing vehicles, and throwing objects.
Perhaps, Kai Cenat felt this would reap a similar outcome as the music video for Lil Uzi Vert’s “Just Wanna Rock,” which the streamer starred in. Apparently, Uzi told Cenat to post their location in hopes of bringing people outside to help shoot the music video. However, that particular incident didn’t result in the same type of trouble as the Union Square Park flash mob.
Escalation Into Chaos
Around 4 p.m., the situation devolved further. Chaos erupted in the streets of New York where rocks and bottles began getting thrown, while fireworks began to set off. Police report that a handful of individuals stormed a construction site. Police were confronted by those in the crowd, leading to a number of arrests. It was overall a chaotic scene that Mayor Eric Adams suggested could’ve been triggered by “outside agitators.” Still, authorities have pinned the blame on Kai Cenat. However, it seems like it could be a bit more complex than the reports indicate.
The Question Of Responsibility
The question remains: Is Kai Cenat responsible for the riot that ensued? Opinions are divided on the matter, especially as more information emerges. A handful of videos have shown Cenat attempting to help calm down the crowd. At one point, he was spotted trying to help a fan who seemed to be dealing with a health issue in the group.
Kai and Fanum attempted to do something great for the people who put them in the positions they’re in today. Plus, the amount of support they’ve received online clearly translates to real life. Unfortunately, the method by which they approached the giveaway turned this matter into a legal one. Some argue that the event's organization, lack of proper permitting, and the frenzy it incited all point to a level of responsibility.
However, supporters of Cenat contend that his intentions were not malicious. NLE Choppa, for example, came to Kai’s defense online. “Y’all don’t even charge the KKK when they do that negative sh*t but charge a successful black man for giving back,” he said while criticizing the system. “Ian saying what he did what’s done correctly of course it’s something he could’ve done better but his intentions were pure that’s all that matter.”
Ultimately, Kai initiated the gathering, but simultaneously, he couldn’t predict nor control how things transpired. Interestingly enough, he shared a vlog after the event where he was spotted in a vehicle away from the madness.
Police revealed that 65 people were arrested during the incident, roughly half of whom were juveniles. However, police confirmed that they were charging Kai Cenat for his alleged role in the riot in New York City. Police charged him with a felony count of first-degree rioting and misdemeanor charges of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly. Police later released Cenat from custody and issued a desk appearance ticket.
These charges indicate a legal standpoint that holds Cenat accountable for the chaos. However, they also raise questions about the extent of his involvement and the potential consequences he might face.
It seems as though Kai Cenat will have a legal headache to work through as a result of the incident. To a degree, it looks like Kai Cenat underestimated the impact of his influence, especially in his hometown. Despite attempting to use his platform to give back, he evidently missed the mark with his efforts.