jason-russell

Invisible Children co-founder detained by police

17 March 2012
By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services

SAN DIEGO – A co-founder of Invisible Children, the group behind the “KONY 2012” video on alleged atrocities by an African warlord, was detained after a witness reported a man masturbating and acting strangely, NBCSanDiego.com reported.

Jason Russell was detained after a man was reported masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, said police Lt. Andra Brown, NBCSanDiego.com reported.Russell is one of the founders responsible for the “KONY 2012” video that went viral last week. He is described on the organization’s website as a co-founder and “our grand storyteller and dreamer.” Russell is also described as a Christian and father to two children who wants to have nine more children with his wife he calls his “best friend for over 23 years.”

In a statement Friday, Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, said:

“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”

The video of alleged child atrocities by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has been viewed more than 100 million times on the Internet.

The 30-minute YouTube film aims to wake up the world to atrocities committed by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, including kidnapping children and forcing them to fight.

Invisible Children tapped 12 influential policy makers and 20 celebrities with popular Twitter accounts, including Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie, to spread the video.

The phenomenal success of the video, including the savvy media campaign with tweets about Kony, has been hailed for inspiring young people to activism, but has suffered some criticism including that it oversimplified a long-standing human rights crisis.

Russell, who narrates the video with a personal story that juxtaposes shots of his young son in San Diego with the hopelessness of Ugandan children, told Reuters last week the video was only meant as a kick-starter to a complicated issue.

“It definitely oversimplifies the issue. This video is not the answer, it’s just the gateway into the conversation. And we made it quick and oversimplified on purpose,” he said. “We are proud that it is simple. We like that. And we want you to keep investigating, we want you to read the history.”

NBCSanDiego.com and Reuters contributed to this story.

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