Police take 'Kony 2012’s' Jason Russell to mental hospital
Jason Russell, one of the co-creators of the viral "Kony 2012" video, is being observed at a mental health facility, San Diego police said.
Lt. Andra Brown said Russell was not arrested but was taken to a hospital for observation Thursday afternoon. Police said they found Russell in Pacific Beach, dressed in underwear. He appeared to be masturbating and to be vandalizing cars. Brown said he may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Invisible Children, a San Diego-based nonprofit that produced the video, confirmed the hospitalization.
Ben Keesey, the company's chief executive officer, said Russell was suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition.
"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," Keesey said in a statement. "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."
The "Kony 2012" video, about brutal Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony, became an Internet sensation and has been viewed about 80 million times on YouTube.
Russell appears in the video, asking his young son: "Can I tell you the bad guy's name?"
Russell then shows him Kony's photograph and explains to viewers that the Lord's Resistance Army abducts children like him for use as sex slaves and child soldiers.
The Invisible Children's website describes Russell as a "grand storyteller and dreamer."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego and Richard Winton in Los Angeles