‘KONY 2012’ director hospitalized after public breakdown | News

The man who directed viral sensation “KONY 2012” was detained and hospitalized Thursday after “exhibiting bizarre behavior,” according to police.

Police statements report that 33-year-old Jason Russell, co-founder of controversial group Invisible Children, was acting in a “bizarre and irrational manner” in the Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego, Calif., Thursday afternoon. Witnesses complained that Russell was running through traffic in his underwear, screaming and pounding his fists on the sidewalk, among other things. Police were called to the scene and detained Russell but say there are no charges pending.

The police statement reads:

On Thursday, March 15, 2012 at about 11:30 a.m., San Diego Police officers responded to a radio call to check the welfare of a male at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Drive, in the neighborhood of Pacific Beach. Several callers reported the male was wearing only underwear and running into the street. One caller reported that the male had removed his underwear and was nude, perhaps masturbating, but that was not confirmed by responding officers. The callers reported the underwear-clad male was in the street, interfering with traffic, screaming, yelling incoherently and pounding his fists on the sidewalk. Several people in the area tried to calm the male but he continued to act in a bizarre and irrational manner.

Once on scene, officers contacted the male, identified only as a 33-year-old white male resident of the area, and determined through their personal observations, as well as the reports of several citizens that the male’s bizarre and irrational behavior would most appropriately be handled by transporting him to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment.

San Diego police officer Thomas Broxtermann says Russell was handcuffed on the scene and transported to Kaiser Permanente medical facility for a mental health evaluation and that Russell was not intoxicated.

Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey released a statement Friday citing the whirlwind of attention Russell and the organization have received since “KONY 2012” was released for Russell’s “unfortunate incident.”

His statement reads:

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.

KONY 2012” aims to raise awareness about the crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Joseph Kony, leader of a guerilla group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. The group is accused of committing a number of heinous crimes over the past 20 years, including recruiting male children into their ranks and forcing female children into sexual slavery.

The film, which Russell directed, narrates and appears in, is the fastest-growing viral video in history, accumulating over 80 million views on YouTube and, according to the Wall Street Journal, over 137 million total views in less than two weeks.

Since the film’s release, both it and Invisible Children have garnered worldwide attention of the positive and negative varieties.

[Sources: WaPo / WSJ]