Since March 5, a San Diego-based foundation called Invisible Children has gained more than 86 million hits of a video called Kony 2012. In the video, the founder of Invisible Children, Jason Russell, tells his son about the African warlord, Joseph Kony.
Leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, Kony has allegedly abducted children and exploited them as soldiers and sex slaves. This has allegedly been occurring for the past 26 years in Uganda, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The video shows local villages migrating at night to avoid the rebels. With the goal to “make Kony famous,” the 30 minute video has created controversy across the globe.
On one side of the debate, people claim the video is merely propaganda. Foreign Affairs Magazine stated that the video distorted the facts and exaggerated the scale of the LRA’s abductions and murders so that the statistics supported the campaign. Others believe that Kony is dead, or that he has stopped committing these crimes.
Accompanying this, many are questioning the reliability of Invisible Children. Part of this comes from the speculation that some of the video’s footage was filmed in 2003, making the clips nine years old. The other part comes from the accusations that the movement uses donations for campaigns, rather than using the donations for resources to help the situation.
Russell’s March 14 mental breakdown has also led to the questioning of the foundation’s accountability. On March 14, Russell was arrested for interfering with traffic, disturbing the peace, and public indecency. He was sent to a mental facility to recover from malnutrition, dehydration, and exhaustion. The breakdown was allegedly caused by stress brought on by the criticism of the campaign.
The other side of this controversy supports the cause. In order to clear up the uncertainty concerning the finances of Invisible Children, the foundation has supplied the public with a chart illustrating the use of funds. The foundation also has a page with answers to the criticism, as well as supplies resources for facts.
“It’d be immoral not to [support Kony 2012],” Joel Moreno said. Moreno is organizing a ”Cover the Night” event in Lakeland, which is an event in which people cover their town with posters about Kony 2012 overnight. This is set to take place on April 20 and Moreno will be at First Friday in Lakeland tonight to publicize his efforts.
Moreno says he has worked with Invisible Children for the past three years, through an organization called Young Life. ”It wasn’t so much about Kony,” he stated. Moreno became involved because he “cannot stand children being mistreated.” Young Life and local companies are helping Moreno, along with Chris Stanford from Lake Gibson High School and Amanda Roberts who attends Polk State College.
“Our goal is to have posters everywhere,” Moreno said. ”The point is to bring attention to the cause.”
At First Friday tonight, Moreno, Stanford, Roberts, and a Young Life correspondent will have a booth set up about the “Cover the Night” event.
“What we’re trying to do is spread the word and answer any questions,” Moreno said.