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Twitch streamer taken into custody after giveaway draws huge crowds to New York City’s Union Square

New York City police on Friday took social media influencer Kai Cenat into custody and are considering charges such as “inciting a riot” after thousands of people gathered in Union Square for a giveaway that left several people arrested and several police officers injured .

Cenat, who has more than 4 million followers on YouTube, more than 5 million on Instagram and 6.5 million on Twitch, said during a Wednesday Twitch stream that he would host a “massive giveaway” at 4 p.m. Friday in Union Square Park .

In the stream, he said they would be giving away computers, Play Station 5s, microphones, keyboards, webcams, gaming chairs, headphones and gift cards from a truck in Union Square. “I feel like New York really deserves it,” he said.

Thousands of people began to gather in the park around 3 p.m., NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said at a Friday news conference. “Soon, the park and surrounding streets became overrun with people, hindering vehicular and pedestrian traffic,” he said.

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The crowd urged the NYPD to activate a “Level 4” response, the highest level of disaster response. The department previously announced they had activated a “Level 2” response to deal with the crowds and clear the area.

Maddery said that as the crowd grew, “individuals in the park began committing acts of violence against the police and the public.” He said some attendees brought items from a nearby construction site.

“There were people walking around with shovels, axes and other construction tools,” he said. “Individuals also set off fireworks, threw it at the police, they threw it at each other.”

Cenat was removed by police for “security reasons,” Maddery said. He said the Twitch streamer had not notified the police of the gathering or had not obtained a permit, and that it was an illegal gathering.

Several police officers were injured in the rampage and “quite a few” people were arrested as police dispersed the crowd, Maddery said. He gestured to dirt on his own uniform and said, “I was in the middle of the crowd, I was hit by multiple objects.”

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Twitch streamer Kai Cenat promised that attendees could win computers, Play Stations and other gaming equipment. —Kevin Winter/Getty Images

According to Maddery, the department is still tracking the number of arrests and the number of injuries. He noted that he saw young people injured in the crowd as well as police officers.

Cenat could be arrested and charged with incitement to riot, the chief said. He said NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban and the city’s legal team were discussing possible charges.

CNN has reached out to Cenat representatives for comment.

“We’re not against young people having a good time, we’re not against young people getting together,” he said. “But it can’t be at this level where it’s dangerous. Many people were injured today.”

He said that while the crowd had dispersed from the park, police were still monitoring “crowds brooding around Manhattan.”

Cenat said during his Wednesday stream that attendees can win prizes by correctly answering “random questions” related to YouTube and streaming. “If you do it right, boom, you just get a PS5,” he said.

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Cenat live-streamed part of the event on Twitch on Friday and posted videos from the audience. In a video that appeared to have been posted from a truck, he described the chaotic gathering, saying: “It’s every man for himself. It’s war there.” He also described the large police presence.

On Friday afternoon, the influencer posted a photo to his Instagram story with the coverage of the crowd and the message, “I love you guys to the fullest, you guys are amazing.”

“Stay safe,” he added.

CNN’s Artemis Moshtagian and Laura Ly contributed to this report.

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