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The man behind the most successful viral video in history is making headlines for a very different reason.
Jason Russell, whose half-hour documentary urging action against Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has taken in more than 100 million views during the past week, was arrested Thursday night for allegedly masturbating in public and vandalizing cars, NBC San Diego reports.
Lt. Andra Brown told the news organization that Russell was acting very strange and that the police had received a number of calls reporting a screaming man running through traffic in his underwear. He was thought to potentially be under the influence.
Invisible Children, the organization he co-founded, released a statement Friday about the arrest.
“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition,” it said. “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.”
Hollywood helped the Kony video go viral; many celebrities, including Zooey Deschanel, Busy Phillips, Simon Pegg, Chloe Moretz, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Olivia Wilde, tweeted out the link, while Ben Affleck and Angelina Jolie made public appeals for the end to Kony’s violence. In fact, the campaign has specifically targeted celebrity advocates.
The video, powered by the #Kony2012 Twitter hashtag, has sparked a debate about not only the brutal use of child soldiers in Uganda and how America should respond, but of Russell’s filmmaking tactics and accusations that Invisible Children stretches the truth.
Critics have cited the fact that the U.S. has already sent in peacekeepers to the region — President Obama took that action last year — and that Kony left Uganda in 2006. Many say that his organization does not spend enough on charitable work and is pursuing a violent solution by teaming up with a brutal regime in Uganda as well. Invisible Children has responded to criticism with a full defense on its website.
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