By Linda Wilkins
Despite the negative attention Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell received last week, many students at Baylor are continuing to support the Kony 2012 movement begun by Invisible Children.
The movement is an attempt to make more people aware of the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, headed by Joseph Kony. Kony has kidnapped and brainwashed children for his army, forced children to murder their parents or siblings and kidnapped girls to be used as sex slaves for army officers, according to the Invisible Children website.
The army currently occupies the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Russell was hospitalized on March 15 after he was found naked on a sidewalk, screamed incoherently and banged his fists on the pavement, according to the Associated Press.
Russell had completed more than 80 interviews in the week and half before the March 15 incident, which helped lead to his behavior, Andrew Byrum, a “roadie” for Invisible Children, said. As a roadie, Byrum travels across the U.S. sharing the Kony 2012 movement at churches and schools, among other places.
Byrum said he believes the incident involving Russell should not hinder the Kony 2012 movement because the movement is not meant to be focused on Invisible Children.
“It was a sad event for us,” Byrum said. “This campaign was never about [Invisible Children]; it was about Kony.”
Byrum said the group’s video highlights the actions of the army that have occurred for more than 26 years. It has had 100 million views, Byrum said.
“The LRA used to get weapons and support from the Sudanese government and their peace talks would gain them food and supplies,” Byrum said. “They have not gotten that support in years.”
Byrum said this weakness has caused the army to release some women and children because they cannot keep them.
Lumberton freshman Nate Webb echoed Byrum’s statement about the timing of the video. “People say, ‘Why is this happening now?’ But this is the whole purpose of this campaign,” Webb said. “The rise of social media has been able to spread the word.”
San Diego senior Rachel Buehler and several other Baylor students began a Facebook page called “Baylor Against Kony” in early March.
In an email to the Lariat Thursday, Buehler wrote that she still supports the Kony 2012 movement, despite Russell’s behavior.
“This did not and should not change anyone’s view of the campaign or organization,” Buehler wrote. “This campaign got bigger than anyone anticipated and it took a huge toll on Jason
Russell. I don’t believe just because of one person’s mistake that it should ruin such a great cause.”
The students’ Facebook page shows students’ support of the fight against Joseph Kony.
Louisiana sophomore Ashley Broussard, who helped start the page, said the video and the movement are meant to publicize his crimes.
The movement is not meant to celebrate Kony’s actions, but to make people aware of them, Buehler said in a March 8 interview.
Richmond senior Julie Christiana said the movement exemplifies Baylor’s character.
“The fact that so many Baylor people have gotten involved, and the reason we want to get Baylor involved, really shows how Baylor students have this character and demeanor of a servant’s heart,” Christiana said.
Buehler said the group hopes to participate in the “Cover the Night” event, which is a time when people can come together and put up red posters that explain the Kony 2012 movement.
The national event will take place April 20, but a place to meet locally has not been decided and Baylor has not yet approved the event, Buehler said. The idea for the event came from Invisible Children, she said.
Buehler said Invisible Children is requesting participants in “Cover the Night” take pictures and post them to Twitter, Facebook or the Invisible Children website.
The Ugandan military is currently pursuing the leaders of the LRA, including Kony, and the U.S. is assisting them by training the Ugandan soldiers, Byrum said. He said the U.S. is helping, not fighting.
Byrum said he is excited to think about the prospect of ending the conflict. He said once the conflict is over, Invisible Children will remain involved in the communities of the people affected by the LRA to ensure they are stable.