After 16 years of fighting with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), 33-year old Francis made the choice to come home last month. He surrendered to a local hunter on October 23rd, barefoot in a tattered suit, just 6km away from Obo, CAR. In his hands were an IC-produceddefection flier, which he initially held over his head to indicate his choice to leave the LRA.
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A popular and influential media campaign has within the week become one of the most wide-spread cries of help through the world. The campaign is called Kony 2012. The campaign was started by the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children. The non-profit activists within the month of March released a viral video explaining their new campaign Kony 2012. The campaign targets viewers to reach out and support the finding of Joseph Kony. Joseph Kony is the leader of a radical army called the L.R.A. (Lord’s Resistance Army.) The L.R.A. consists of a group of kidnapped African children forced to fight and mutilate African people in the name of Joseph Kony. According to a Security Council Report, the LRA displaced 49,999 people 17,000, in 2011 alone and killed over 2,400 civilians since 2008. The LRA has acted as recently as last month. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, 12 attacks were reported in the first two weeks of February. The popular video urges viewers to interact in a universal movement titled, “Cover the Night.” The “Cover the Night” movement begins April 20, 2012 in which viewers of America will cover their individual cities and towns with Joseph Kony posters and stickers. The message of the night is to make Joseph Kony famous. Making Joseph Kony famous will spark attention to our government and help the government of America realize how important Joseph Kony is to the American people. The “Cover the Night” movement is also being used to show how powerful the people of America can be as the decision makers in our nation.
Within the past couple of weeks, the Kony 2012 campaign has spread throughout popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The 30-minute video has created a spark amongst viewers positively and negatively. Events have been made on Facebook such as, “Cover the Night” movements in various cities all across America including St. Augustine, Fl. Within St. Augustine, residents have been involved in the movement. On Facebook, more than 200 local residents have shared the Kony 2012 video. A “Cover the Night: St. Augustine” event has been created on Facebook in which 182 guests are already attending out of the 1000 guests invited
These images have been placed worldwide, participates have posted this image on their Facebook wall, stuck to their car and even on trees throughout their neighborhood. The poster has become icon and is believed to stay icon for years to come.
“I’m very fortunate to live in a healthy and safe environment,” says Cynthia Rupport, 55, of Maryland. “My children are protected and don’t fear the risk every day that these children do. It is my obligation and my goal to spread the word as best as possible that Joseph Kony needs to be brought to justice. I will be participating in “Cover the Night” in St. Augustine, FLA and I will not rest until I see something has been done,” says Ruppert.
Ruppert is amongst the many passionate participates in the movement; millions are expected to act on the twentieth of April.
“Kony 2012 is the fastest growing online video campaign to date,” according to the Huffington Post. What is the goal of Kony 2012? According to the Invisible Children foundation, “it’s the first time in history that the government took military action because the people had demanded it.” “Joseph Kony is one of the world’s worst war criminals and I support the international effort to arrest him, disarm the L.R.A. and bring the child soldiers home.” “The Invisible Children’s goal is to redefine the propaganda and news that we see everyday, that dictates what we do and what we pay attention to.”
Oprah Winfrey, who has become a large supporter and donated tweeted on March 6, “Thanks tweeps for sending me info about ending #LRAviolence. I am aware. Have supported with $’s and voice and will not stop. #KONY2012” As of March 13, the video had been viewed more than 76 million times on YouTube and 16 million times on Vimeo, making it one of the most viewed videos of all time on those sites.
Researchers Lee Rainie, Paul Hitlin, Mark Jurkowitz, Michael Dimock, Shawn Neidorf from Pew Research Center released this chart on March 15, showing the engagement the Kony 2012 social media campaign has made:
Also stating, percentages of social media response that supported the video’s message: 66% of the Twitter conversation from March 5-12 supported the anti-Kony campaign. 17% was skeptical or negative about it. 16% was neutral (mostly consisting of people asking questions about what was going on).
There are trends on Twitter such as hash tags declaring, “StopKONY2012trend” with statements and views that the trend is worse than ‘planking’ and ‘dubstep’, which are other popular media topics.
According to a CNNNews interview with co-founder Jason Russell, some survivors in Uganda have received what they believe is negative connotation from the Kony 2012 campaign as it structures Joseph Kony to be a celebrity amongst viewers. The people of Uganda are also frightened the new viral video will bring retaliation among the society.
Flagler College student Hannah Engle, 22, disagrees with the Kony 2012 movement. “Americans need to let certain things be. 12 years after is when we want to “get involved.” Americans always see it as a trend to jump on the bandwagon that makes it seem like they’re all about the greater good. Yes the UK doesn’t physically have Kony in their possession but the people of Uganda say he is dead. Some say he is no longer abducting children. Invisible Children has been going on for years and years. And I’ve known about the situation before it became a trending topic. The Ugandan people never asked for help from others.”
Jason Russell and Ben Keesey are striving to make history. They are both passionate about what they do and will defend their beliefs at all costs. Despite controversy, the YouTube video had over 67 million views in five days. According to Google, views increased around March and are continuing to grow rapidly each day.
It wasn’t until co-founder Jason Russell performed a peculiar stunt in the streets of California when his profound viral video regarding his campaign, “Kony 2012” began questioning believers of the campaign.
Jason Russell, the co-founder of Invisible Children, the group behind the “Kony 2012” viral video, was detained and taken by police to a medical facility for evaluation on Thursday morning after he was reported to be in his underwear, yelling incoherently and disrupting traffic in a San Diego neighborhood. Police had reported Jason Russell to be naked in the streets and banging his fists against the sidewalk. One officer even stated Russell was, “masturbating” but other officers who fled to the scene did not exhibit this behavior.
News sources began to launch their own renditions of a viral Jason Russell video… but this time, it was unbeneficial to the Kony 2012 campaign. TMZ released a video which depicts Jason Russell running around in the street completely naked, shouting profanities and banging his fist against the pavement. The evidence spread like wildfire throughout media outlets just like the Kony 2012 video and people began to talk.
“I think that what Jason Russell has done is ridiculous, especially after his amazing and extremely powerful video he released,” said Monica Tutt, a local St. Augustine resident. “Although I have so say, the whole point of Kony 2012 is not about Jason Russell nor his Invisible Children organization. The point of Kony 2012 is to find and stop Joseph Kony. That is the main point.” “It doesn’t matter if Jason Russell is running naked down the street; it shouldn’t have anything to do with what the campaign is truly about.”
Other local resident’s said otherwise.
“I think that Jason Russell has turned his campaign into a huge joke,” said Todd Conley. “You know I really believed in the guy and the campaign until I saw him acting like a wild animal. It really twisted my opinion on the guy and the campaign all together.”
In regards to the stunt by Jason Russell, the Kony 2012 campaign is still underway. Individuals are still attending local, “Cover the Night” events in their own cities and towns which take place April 20th, 2012. With all that has taken place, it is interesting to note what may or may happen to the entire campaign and what to expect in the future of Kony 2012 and Jason Russell.