The Washington Post

Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell hospitalized after public breakdown

A co-founder of Invisible Children was hospitalized in San Diego Thursday night after people called police to report he was running through the street in his underwear, screaming and pounding his fists on the sidewalk.

Jason Russell poses in New York on March 9. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

In a statement, Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey 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 police statement said: “On Thursday, March 15, 2012 at about 11:30 a.m., San Diego Police officers responded to a radio call to check the welfare of a male at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Drive, in the neighborhood of Pacific Beach.  Several callers reported the male was wearing only underwear and running into the street.  One caller reported that the male had removed his underwear and was nude, perhaps masturbating, but that was not confirmed by responding officers.  The callers reported the underwear-clad male was in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming, yelling incoherently and pounding his fists on the sidewalk.  Several people in the area tried to calm the male but he continued to act in a bizarre and irrational manner. 

“Once on scene, officers contacted the male, identified only as a 33 year old white male resident of the area, and determined through their personal observations, as well as the reports of several citizens that the male’s bizarre and irrational behavior would most appropriately be handled by transporting him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.”

NBC San Diego initially reported that it was an arrest.But police said there were no charges pending.

Russell’s film “Kony 2012,” which called for the capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, went viral last week, with millions of views on YouTube. Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal group that kidnapped thousands of children over the last two decades.

The film received support from President Obama, celebrities like Oprah and public figures such as New York Times journalist Nic Kristof for drawing attention to the problems in Uganda. It also incurred criticism from both Ugandans and those who specialized in the region; Invisible Children called the criticism “myopic.”

Russell told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he first became interested in Africa during a church trip to Kenya in 2000.

On the Invisible Children Web site, Russell is described as “our grand storyteller and dreamer.” At many times, he has said that his role model is Walt Disney. He recently told Apolis Global, an advocacy Web site, that his dream was to one day conceive the “world's best and brightest academy for creatives.”

As a filmmaker, he has worked with Disney, on the film “Step Up 2,” and sold his musical “Moxie” to Steven Spielberg, according to his bio on TED Talks, a conference in which speakers get 20 minutes to share “ideas worth spreading.” Russell has also directed and choreographed over 20 theatrical stage productions and performed in over 100 different shows, the bio said. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California's film school. Russell is the father of two children.

View Photo Gallery: Here’s a look at Joseph Kony and some of the other members, and victims, of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Related reading

BlogPost: Invisible Children founders posing with guns

BlogPost:  Invisible Children responds to criticism

BlogPost:  Kony 2012 gets support of Obama

BlogPost:  Rush Limbaugh defends LRA; survivor responds


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