Remember the kind, humble young father who narrated, directed and produced the Kony 2012 video? Today, NBC News reported that, Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell, “was detained in Pacific Beach on Thursday for being drunk in public and engaging in lewd conduct, according to the San Diego Police Department.” Fail.
Now, if that couldn’t be bad enough, IC’s CEO, Ben Keesey released the following statement today:
“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.”
I was SO disappointed to hear this news today. I have personally always admired IC and the work they do. When the Kony 2012 campaigned launched last week, I was inspired and called to action. I was impressed by the quality of the campaign to raise awareness internationally with the end goal to find and catch Joseph Kony. I believe in this cause; however, I fear that because of this news, there will be a drop in funding and worse, a drop in interest in the campaign. For all the children that Kony has exploited, justice needs to be brought to Kony. It just breaks my heart that because of one idiot move, it could all go to shambles. Can’t imagine how IC staff must feel. Right now, I wish I hadn’t purchased a shirt and a bracelet. Now, I question where my money will go. Time and efforts will now be allocated to put out this fire. Not what I signed-up for.
This statement from Keesey is a great example of what NOT to say. I’m not sure it could have been any worse. Way to shoot yourself in the foot. Where was the PR person in this crisis communication situation? Seriously. Keesey should be honest about what happened, take responsibility (definitely NOT condone it) and then announce that Russell is no longer with IC. That would be a great place to start. This is not a “medical condition,” this was a series of bad decisions, all strung together on one night.
At the end of the day, the 30,000 children in Uganda, who were kidnapped and forced to fight in Kony’s army, deserve to be returned home to their families. I can’t fathom how IC will dig itself out of this hole (that they’ve dug for themselves), but I can only hope they will.
You can find the full NBC News story here.