Police are urging people to avoid Manhattan’s Union Square as they try to contain the fallout from a reported game console giveaway event.
A crowd of several hundred people filled the park Friday afternoon for what was billed as an event from popular Twitch stream and YouTube creator Kai Cenat. The “HUGE GIVEAWAY,” which promised free PlayStation consoles, was scheduled for 4 p.m., but hundreds had already filled the square by 3 p.m.
What exactly sparked the crowd to turn unruly isn’t yet clear, but by 3:30 p.m. people were seen throwing garbage at police and taking down barriers around the perimeter.
The NYPD estimates a “couple thousand people” were in Union Square around 4 p.m. The department issued its highest mobilization level, according to a spokesperson, with a call for more than one thousand officers to respond to the escalating situation.
The chaos was far from contained to just the plaza. The size of the crowd extended into multiple streets, blocking E 14th Street and Broadway directly south of Union Square.
A number of cars attempting to pass by were swarmed by the overwhelming size of the crowd and forced to a halt. Chopper video shows a handful of people in the crowd climbing on top of some of those cars as well as a food cart nearby.
As police fight to reestablish control of the area and disperse the crowd, the department has advised people to styay clear.
Drivers should expect significant delays during the evening rush hour, but so should commuters on public transit. The MTA has announced trains are completely bypassing the station below Union Square in both directions.
Despite the pandemonium, police have said there were no reports of any significant injuries in the first hour of the event fallout.
One young person who had initially attended the event told News 4 he decided to leave after feeling worried about his personal safety. But he and a friend turned back around, he said, because “it’s not every day you see a famous person.”
A crowd of hundreds went wild at Union Square in Manhattan after a streamer hosted a giveaway. Police were trying to get the scene under control.