Kony 2012: Invisible Children reflects one year later
One year after the Kony 2012 campaign's video set a record for viral viewership, the San Diego group Invisible Children reflected on the successes and failures of the campaign and announced plans Tuesday for a leadership summit in Los Angeles.
The Kony 2012 campaign aimed to bring notoriety to Joseph Kony, the Lord's Resistance Army's leader who has terrorized much of central Africa for decades.
Although Kony remains at large, the video's makers say the campaign was successful, citing a decrease in killings by the LRA, as well as renewed international efforts to capture Kony -- including the Rewards for Justice bill signed into law by President Obama in January.
"The true measure of success for this campaign is if people’s lives are getting better on the ground," said Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's chief executive officer, in an interview with The Times. "This year has been a year of extraordinary progress."
While the Kony 2012 video amassed hundreds of millions of views and raised millions for Invisible Children, its content came under fire from some in Uganda, and the Cover the Night event the campaign aimed to promote was overshadowed after the video's creator had a mental breakdown and was found running naked through the streets of San Diego.
"You have to either laugh or cry every day at how embarrassing it was," Invisible Children's creative director Jason Russell told The Times in October about his breakdown. "I've decided to laugh at it and say, 'Yes, I was crazy and out of control.' "
In a new video released Tuesday, Invisible Children acknowledged the campaign's setbacks but highlights a November rally in Washington, D.C., that drew thousands, as well as new progress in central Africa as the campaign's true impact.
Two of the LRA's top commanders have been removed from the battlefield and more fighters defected from the rebel group last year than in the previous three years combined, according to Invisible Children.
Moving forward, Invisible Children has announced a "Fourth Estate" campaign, which will center on a summit in Los Angeles this fall aimed at drawing in young people interested in international justice issues.
"We're witnessing the incubation of an international justice movement, and we couldn't be more excited," Keesey said.
-- Wesley Lowery