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Ontario's #AmberAlert February 15: Complaints In Tragedy

Updated on February 15, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

A Beautiful Child Is Dead


(Some of) Humanity Sucks Sometimes

Like many Ontarians - and apparently some Manitobans - I was woken in the very early hours of February 15, 2019 by an Amber Alert. As we all know, an Amber Alert is usually issued when a child is believed to have been abducted or believed to be at risk of harm. In this case, 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found deceased, allegedly by her father's hand, in a Brampton home. The father was taken into custody shortly after his car was seen on Highway 11 near Oro-Medonte, Ontario, according to National Post and several other news agencies.

The news that this young child, who was supposed to be celebrating her 11th birthday with her father, was murdered probably by his hand is horrific and heartwrenching. I say "probably" and "allegedly because while first-degree murder charges are pending, nothing has been proven, much as there are those individuals who would like to get their hands on this child's father to enact their own brand of justice. It is the response of several individuals, however, that is also vile.

People were phoning 911 to complain that they were awoken by the sound of the Amber Alert.

You read that right.

Rather than be worried that a child - one of our most vulnerable members of society - could be in harm's way and was in serious danger, people were cranky that their sleep was interrupted.

Did these people expect that Amber Alerts were only issued between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm? That after 5 pm, Amber Alert suddenly shifts into some sort of "silent running" mode that no one can hear and if you're lucky, you'll see that an Amber Alert was issued?

I get being annoyed at the sleep disturbance; those happen almost nightly for me, but I'm a parent in my mid-40s, so sleep disturbances for me most often involve a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. However, the minute that people realized it was an Amber Alert, their first thought should have been for the safety and welfare of that little girl, and not about the night of sleep they were trying to get.

There are those individuals who also contacted 911 to report they were miles away and therefore shouldn't get the Amber Alert notification for something so far removed from their location at the time.

One of the biggest worries in a situation like a child abduction is that the person who kidnapped the child is on the move. The kidnapper and the victim are unlikely to stay in the same location for very long, as the kidnapper has no desire to get caught and likely go to jail. So sure, Oro-Medonte and Brampton are a very long way from Ottawa, Ontario, but when you've just committed a crime, I would assume that you want to hightail it out of your current location and go anywhere else but where you're at.

Yes, folks in Winnipeg and folks in Ottawa, for instance, could have done very little to save Riya, given the several hours' distance between Ottawa and the crime scene, among other things. However, the father could have been on the move with his daughter, looking for a quiet spot to hide out. Police did not necessarily know that as they were investigating the matter prior to issuing the Amber Alert. There are also fairly stringent requirements that must be met prior to the issuance of an Amber Alert, and until someone confirmed that the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert had in fact been met, investigators had to keep investigating until it was met.

If it had been my own child in that sort of perilous situation, and I received such unimaginably horrific news, I would want the cops to knock on every door of every house until my child was found - no questions asked. I'd be out there with the cops, if I could be, if it meant my child was back in my arms and safe sooner, and anyone who complained about a lack of sleep because of an Amber Alert would get cuffed in the head pretty fast.

Someone also said that the father's name sounded suspicious. While I'm not quite sure what that speaker's intent was, I cautioned the person that we can't make conclusions like the one he seemed to imply. Some individuals have internal wiring that's just so warped there's no fixing it, and that's not a function of faith or race. Some individuals believe it's appropriate to be angry their sleep was disturbed over something as incredibly important as an Amber Alert.

We can't change how people respond in the moment, but it's my hope that when it comes to situations like what happened on Feb. 15, 2019, humanity will begin to pull its collective act together.


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