Monday, March 19, 2012

When 'Invisible Children' Came to Brooklyn

Filmmaker Laren Poole live-blogs the Invisible Children march into Empire State Park in DUMBO in 2009.
On April 25, 2009, about 3,000 people marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and spent the night camped out in Fulton Ferry/ Empire State Park in DUMBO, in solidarity with abducted children forced to fight as soldiers by the African warlord Joseph Kony.

Stars like producer/director Jon Turteltaub, actor Chris Lowell ("Private Practice”) and Yin Chang ("Gossip Girl”) joined in.

The march was part of an international happening staged by Invisible Children, founded by filmmakers Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey. Poole (shown above) led the Brooklyn event.

What Happened Since Then . .

Since the overnighter in DUMBO, Russell, Poole and Bailey continued their travels to Africa, made films, built schools and started a movement. Two weeks ago, Invisible Children's internet video campaign called Kony 2012 went wildly viral.

Since then, the group received praise for their work -- but also criticism. Some questioned their use of funds (out of roughly $9 million, only $3.3 million went to programs in Africa) and support of the Ugandan Army, itself accused of atrocities. They have also been accused of simplifying a complex and delicate situation, and possibly derailing America's behind-the-scenes interests in the area.

Some Ugandans have slammed the video as "the work of privileged young foreigners," according to the Globe and Mail.

Last Thursday, Jason Russell was picked up and hospitalized by San Diego police after running through the streets naked, pounding the ground and shouting obscenities.

Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey said in a statement Friday: "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."

Invisible Children responds to many of the criticisms here.  Wikipedia has history of the events here.

Photo copyright MK Metz

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