'Kony' creator Jason Russell exhausted, dehydrated, wife says
"Invisible Children" filmmaker Jason Russell, the creator of the viral "Kony 2012" video who was detained by police last week in San Diego, was suffering from "extreme exhaustion and dehydration," his wife said in a statement.
Russell, 33, was taken into custody Thursday afternoon by San Diego police after neighbors reported him running naked in the streets of the Pacific Beach neighborhood, pounding his fists on the sidewalk and shouting incoherently. Police took him to a mental health facility for observation.
Police responded to "several callers [who] reported that the male removed his underwear and was nude, perhaps masturbating," according to the police statement. By the time police arrived, the man was wearing his underwear. "The callers reported the underwear-clad male was in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming, yelling incoherently and pounding his fists on the sidewalk."
"He continued to act in a bizarre and irrational manner," according to a statement released by police spokeswoman Lt. Andra Brown.
A statement by his wife, Danica Russell, said her husband was under stress and that he "never had a substance abuse or drinking problem, and this episode wasn't caused by either of those things."
She suggested that the criticism of the "Invisible Children" video about African militia leader Joseph Kony may have contributed to Russell's bizarre behavior.
"Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal and Jason took them very hard," said the statement.
Among other things, critics said the video misstated the facts about the current level of violence in Uganda, Kony's current whereabouts and the strength of his militia forces.
"Jason has dedicated his adult life to this cause, leading to [the] KONY 2012 [video]," the family statement said. "We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it."
The organization plans to distribute materials about Kony in several major cities, including San Diego, in April.
Russell is a native of El Cajon, where his parents run the Christian Youth Theater. A graduate of USC, he co-founded Invisible Children, which later moved into an office building in downtown San Diego.
A New York-based public relations firm released a statement Friday from the organization's chief executive, Ben Keesey, acknowledging that Russell had been hospitalized.
"Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," the statement 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."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Jason Russell in 2010. Credit: Fox 5 San Diego