UT group plans Kony 2012’s Cover the Night


Raveena Bhalara

Brady Morrison and international studies majors Julia HHudson and Caroline Thomas attend a meeting about the Cover the Night event.

Alexandra Klima

The UT chapter of Invisible Children will flood Austin with 1,000 posters in a number of different languages while participating in Cover the Night, the Kony 2012 campaign’s main event Friday.

Members of the club gathered Wednesday during their chapter’s last meeting before the event to discuss the details of Cover the Night. With the help of the Invisible Children Austin Street Team, the UT chapter of Invisible Children and other groups not affiliated with the club will cover Austin with wall art, fliers, posters and stickers in order to continue spreading the message of Kony 2012: Arrest Joesph Kony. Kony is an African warlord with a long track record of wrongdoings including the kidnapping and use of children for child soldiers.

The UT chapter of Invisible Children will spend most of their time during Cover the Night at The Hope Foundation’s outdoor gallery, said Cassidy Myers, Invisible Children Austin Street Team coordinator. A non-profit organization in Austin, The Hope Foundation helps artists who are working on peace projects get their message out to the community, according to their website.

The Hope Foundation offered Invisible Children access to its Hope Outdoor Gallery where murals will be created and large banners will be hung for Cover the Night. The 1,000 posters will be written in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English and other languages to reach as many people as possible, Myers said. Sidewalk chalk and reverse graffiti, a form of tagging where a stencil is placed on a dirty wall and cleaned off, revealing the message, will be used as well.
Keep Austin Beautiful, a non-profit organization focused on the environment, is donating gloves, shovels and paint rollers to use for Cover the Night.

Although Kony 2012 is geared at stopping an international issue, spreading the message of Kony 2012 throughout Austin has also become a community service project, Myers said.

“We want to earn our right to be heard globally by acting locally within our own community,” Myers said. “Why would you try to help someone globally if you can’t even help your neighbor?”

She said supporters do things like mow a neighbor’s lawn in exchange for posting a Kony pickett sign because Invisible Children wants participants to earn their right to be heard. Local communities must better themselves so they can eventually turn their focus to global community issues, she said.

Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell created the original “Kony 2012” video, which eventually went viral and garnered almost 100 million views on YouTube. Russell was detained by police on March 15 and was subsequently brought to a medical facility to be evaluated after he was found running through the streets in his underwear and shouting incoherently, according to the Huffington Post. A video of Russell running through the streets prior to his detainment was shortly thereafter released to celebrity news website TMZ.

“I don’t think Russell’s scandal will affect the impact of Kony 2012,” Myers said. “TMZ overexaggerated the entire incident. Russell was physically and mentally exhausted after giving over 80 interviews within two weeks.”

She said the Kony 2012 movement is so much bigger than any one person, which was exactly what Russell wanted.

International relations sophomore and Invisible Children member Caroline Thomas said she has been involved with Kony 2012 since the student chapter’s inception last fall. Thomas commented on the subsequent Stop Kony YouTube videos obtaining lower views than the first video.

“We understand there won’t be 100 million views for all of Kony 2012’s videos, but there’s still an impact,” Thomas said. “In the end it comes down to removing Kony from his reign of terror and the people who have stuck around must have seen the significance in that endeavor.”

Thomas said the original Kony 2012 video garnered a huge surge of interest, which has helped the chapter build its member base.

History sophomore Danielle Lefteau said she feels like the viral video has done a great job of gathering attention, but most people just watch the video. Lefteau said they will maybe update their Facebook cover photo to “Kony 2012,” but never actually donate their time or money to truly help the cause.

Human development freshman Jenna Javior attended last night’s meeting and said she saw the Kony 2012 video and felt she needed to be involved in the movement.

“I definitely think students can make this happen,” Javior said. “We just have to keep spreading the word.”