Woman with baby takes cover inside Capitol One bank during chaos in Union Square

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, August 5, 2023
Twitch streamer to face charges over mayhem in Union Square
A crowd of thousands packed Manhattan's Union Square for Kai Cenat's hyped giveaway that quickly got out of hand Friday afternoon. Josh Einiger has the latest details.

UNION SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Chaos spared no one, including a mother and her baby, when thousands of people swarmed Union Square Park Friday afternoon after word spread of a video game giveaway.

Over the last few days, Kai Cenat, one of the most popular streamers on the video game streaming website Twitch, announced that he would give away PlayStation 5 video game consoles at 4 p.m. in Union Square.

As a result, thousands of people showed up and took over the park and the roads bordering it as police struggled to contain them.

One woman, carrying a 1-year-old baby in her arms, was forced to flee to safety inside an ATM lobby of a Capitol One bank nearby.

Josh Einiger interviewed a woman who took shelter with her baby inside a bank after mayhem broke out in Union Square.

"My first thing was to just make sure she's safe, I'm just trying to get somewhere I can keep her safe and keep her out of the crowd," the mother named Jaleen said.

She watched a police officer get sucked into the crowd.

"He ended up getting beaten and jumped by over 10 people," she said. "I hear people saying they're jumping the cop, he's getting beat up."

Every available officer was commanded to rush to the scene to restore order as people raided a construction site in the middle of the square and vaulted projectiles at each other and police.

Police racked up so many arrests they filled three city buses with prisoners.

The woman said she's no stranger to the social media influencer who announced the giveaway, saying that she's watched a few of his videos, but says he's responsible for some of the mayhem.

RELATED | Who is Twitch streamer Kai Cenat?

"Today was a different kind of day, this was completely hectic and so I do put a little bit of blame on him as far as New York City is a crowded place with a lot of people and you never know what could happen, and today it got completely out of control," she said.

Officials say Cenat will be charged with with at least two counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, among other things.

As for the crowds of people that overran the park, the woman says what happened is "ridiculous."

She says a lot of the people in the crowd were likely under the age of 18.

"I think this was completely blown up out of proportion by all of the people that came here to contribute, I understand you're a fan of Kai Cenat, but it's one thing to just come and try and support him but to come and not just make a mess of the city but other pedestrians like me that are just trying to get by and go about their day, there's no consideration and it's just ridiculous, honestly," she said.


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