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Kony Activists to 'Blanket the Night' in Columbia

Despite the campaign's recent setbacks, activists in Columbia plan on putting up posters of the notorious African warlord on Friday night.

Despite adverse publicity surrounding the creator of a viral Internet video exposing African warlord Joseph Kony, local supporters of the effort to bring Kony to justice are continuing with their own plans.

Nathan Warfel, a Howard Community College student, has  and invited other students to help him hang posters locally on April 20 to continue drawing attention to Kony, who is accused by some of abducting thousands of children in Uganda to serve in his military cause.

Warfel's efforts are part of a larger campiagn called “Blanket the Night” to hang posters across America, and the call to continue drawing notoriety to Kony was at the end of the now-famous video, Kony 2012.

The effort to bring Kony to justice may have been damaged when the film's creator,  Jason Russell,  was caught on camera naked apparently suffering from emotional distress on a San Diego sidewalk in March. That not only affected Russell's credibility but may have hurt the efforts of  Invisible Children, a group whose goal is Kony's capture.

Russell's wife said his breakdown was a result of exhaustion and dehydration. Even before that, some had criticized Russell and his immensely popular Kony 2012 video for oversimplifying a complex problem and focusing on a warlord who is no longer influential.

Despite the criticism the video has received, Warfel said he and a group of similarly-minded activists will meet at the Columbia Lakefront at 9 p.m. on Friday to hang posters around the city.

Jeffrey Gettleman, who won the 2012 Pulitizer Prize for International Reporting, wrote about the only way to bring vicious African warlords to justice in Foreign Policy in 2010:

Even if you could coax these men out of their jungle lairs and get them to the negotiating table, there is very little to offer them. They don't want ministries or tracts of land to govern. Their armies are often traumatized children, with experience and skills (if you can call them that) totally unsuited for civilian life. All they want is cash, guns, and a license to rampage. And they've already got all three. How do you negotiate with that?

The short answer is you don't. The only way to stop today's rebels for real is to capture or kill their leaders. Many are uniquely devious characters whose organizations would likely disappear as soon as they do.

Let us know if you see any of the posters around the city tomorrow.


Bruce Wilson April 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Some Ugandans seem less than impressed by Invisible Children's efforts. Last Friday the 13th, April 2012, during an official Invisible Children-organized screening of KONY 2012 part 2 in the Northern Ugandan city of Gulu, the audience became so enraged by the video that they started to pelt the screen, and IC organizers, with rocks. Ugandan police, in turn shot tear gas at the crowd and fired their rifles into the air, causing panic. One death and several injuries were reported. http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1387926/-/aw2cd3z/-/index.html It was the second riot, or near-riot, that Invisible Children's videos have provoked in Uganda. From the linked Uganda Monitor story: "Ms Margaret Aciro, whose picture appears in the Kony 2012 video showing her lips, nose and ears mutilated, has criticised the documentary, saying it is aimed at making money using victims of the northern insurgency. Ms Aciro, 35, abducted by rebels of the LRA in 2003 from Paicho Sub-county in Gulu Municipality, was among thousands of people who flocked Pece War Memorial Stadium on Friday to watch the filming of Kony 2012 by Invisible Children. “I watched the Kony 2012 video but I decided to return home before the second one (Kony 2012 Par II) because I was dissatisfied with its content. I became sad when I saw my photo in the video. I knew they were using it to profit.”
Bruce Wilson April 21, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The Catholic Archbishop of Gulu and member of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, Rt. Rev John Baptist Odama, whose daughter committed suicide as a result of her treatment while kidnapped by Kony's LRA, also had harsh words for the Invisible Children video screening: "This is catastrophic, it's causing chaos. It is igniting more, actually, a situation of starting afresh the war. But now it is against the population. This film could have been prepared with a consultation. For example, the stakeholders could be consulted - "We would like to project a film like this, what do you think?" People should have been asked before, instead of having the film shown now."


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