Wilder, who has over 5 million followers on TikTok and rose to social media prominence with his online sketches and basketball videos, announced he would be at the park the next day in a video uploaded on Sept. 2. The San Antonio Police Department reported an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people showed up. No arrests were made.
SAPD said that the crowd wasn’t violent, but that the number of people was an “imminent threat to public safety,” according to a statement given to local news outlet KSAT. Two people were reported injured from the gathering — one person overheated, and another cut their head after falling near the pool area in the park.
Fans who were at the park uploaded footage of the crowds to TikTok and hashtagged phrases like #parktakeover and #sanantoniotakeover.
Wilder posted his response to the event on his TikTok on Sept. 5, calling it “mayhem” and “some Kai Cenat s***,” referring to the disastrous giveaway event Cenat tried to host in New York City in early August.
In the footage, Wilder recorded an SAPD officer telling the group to stay inside the bus or van they arrived in because they were “inciting a riot.”
What is a ‘park takeover’?
This is not the first time Wilder has done a park takeover. The San Antonio Express-News reported that he’s been hosting them since 2021. According to his TikTok, he’s at least hosted one in May, one in February, one in Chicago in June 2022 and encouraged fans to meet up to watch him play basketball in Las Vegas in March 2022.
Wilder did not invent park takeovers, but he has certainly made them part of his branding as he travels the U.S. coaching his Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball team.
The Philadelphia Inquirer credited 17-year-old Jake West, who has over 1 million TikTok followers, with creating the park takeover phenomenon in July with a game at Wentz Run Park in Blue Bell, Pa. But, as evidenced by how far back Wilder’s park takeover videos go, West can’t be the originator of the phrase or the concept.
There’s also a history of takeover events that goes back to community programs run by the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, The Kansas City Defender explained in 2022. There has been a resurgence within recent years and more exposure because of TikTok — and not just in the U.S. Australia has been seeing a lot of park takeovers as well.
“I think [people] started [park takeovers] because they wanted to give back to the community,” creator Jason Kamiti told the Australian podcast Helos & Homies. “They will run a game, they’ll have a crowd, they’ll get everyone turnt, throw alleys, do flashy plays, stuff you wouldn’t see in a [professional] game.”
Cenat, whose Union Square giveaway ended with him being charged for inciting a riot, has participated in more traditional park takeovers before too. A noteworthy difference between a typical park takeover and Cenat’s giveaway is that the popular Twitch streamer was offering free items to fans who showed up.
But clearly, based on SAPD shutting down Wilder’s recent takeover, there doesn’t need to be a giveaway for these gatherings to descend into chaos. Wilder’s explosion in online popularity could be a reason why the takeovers are gaining national attention now — he’s gained over 1 million followers since the start of 2023, according to Social Blade, with his follower count having started to spike in June.
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