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Earlier this week Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children, the organization responsible for the KONY 2012 video, was arrested in San Diego after running around naked in public and allegedly performing lewd acts.
Russuell, 33, was taken into police custody last Thursday after neighbors noted his odd behavior. He was born in El Cajon, where his parents run a Christian Youth Theater. A graduate of the University of Southern California, he helped co-found Invisible Children, which changed locations to an office building in downtown San Diego.
A few weeks ago the group posted the now viral half-hour video on Youtube, narrated by Russell, and garnering eighty-three million views in just over two weeks. The film talks in detail about the dealings of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group working in Uganda which commits atrocities and kidnaps children in order to achieve its goals.
Although the level of awareness raised by the video is undeniably massive, many, including Toonari Post, have been critical about how much of the money raised actually went to aid Uganda, and have even called into question the legitimacy of some of the facts presented in the film. The L.A. Times has noted the level of violence in Uganda at this time, Kony’s present location and the power of his army were all misstated in it.
Friends and family of Russell have cited this criticism for his apparent mental breakdown. Invisible Children’s chief executive, Ben Keesey, was quoted as saying, “these last two weeks have been tough,” as news of the video reached almost unheard-of heights. He stated that the pressure “was hard for all of us, but it was especially hard for Jason because the story was so personal for him and his family. That pressure took a serious toll on him, and unfortunately the whole world saw that.”
A family statement said, “We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it,” declaring between the words that Russell was not emotionally prepared for the popularity and subsequent criticism the video received.
Invisible Children is not slowing down its operations in spite of these criticisms or the recent stories about Russell. The group plans to send out materials with more information about Kony in certain major cities, including San Diego, later this spring.
The end of the organization’s statement also aims to confront the criticism that it was not committed enough to its operation, using most of the money raised for personal purposes, stating: “On our end, the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We’ll take care of Jason, you take care of the work. The message of the film remains the same: Stop at nothing.”
At this time Russell plans on focusing on his health.