On Monday, the media reported that a woman dressed in a Muslim burqa, calmly walked into Bryant Elementary School and kidnapped five-year-old Na'illa Robinson. The woman went into the school ten minutes after Na'illa’s mother had dropped her off and escorted the student out without causing anyone to question her or to even ask her to produce any type of identification. The child’s mother wasn’t even aware of the fact that her child had been taken out of the school until late that afternoon.
The good news is that the child was found, hiding underneath a jungle gym in a park less than 24 hours after her abduction. Although little Na'illa had left the school dressed in a uniform and wearing a coat, she was found with nothing else on except an adult-size t-shirt. According to Philadelphia Police, she seemed to be unharmed.
The incident seemed to be an alls-well-that-ends-well type of story, but that’s not the end. As is the case in Philadelphia, the crazies started to come out of the woodwork and their first target was the Philadelphia School District.
As expected, the media began blaming the district for having unsafe schools, and although Bryant Elementary was at fault for not fully utilizing their procedures, this kidnapping was well planned so perhaps the procedures wouldn't have mattered. The woman knew the school, she knew when to take the child, exactly where the classroom was, and it’s a possibility that she also knew that there was going to be a substitute in the classroom that day. The fact that Na'illa went with her so willingly may also mean that she knew the woman or had met her before.
Monday mornings in most schools within the district are pretty hectic and many parents walk their elementary school students to their classrooms. The district is operating with less staff and perhaps even more so since some staff may have been out sick with the flu. There are also parents that have even been known to drop their child off and then take them back out a few minutes later so the woman’s excuse that she was taking Na'illa out for breakfast wasn’t really that uncommon, sadly enough. Legally, the district cannot stop a parent from doing this.
There was also an outcry against people who wear burqas and how they should be banned from society. For the record, the woman was wearing a niqab and not a burqa, but that’s besides the point. The kidnapping should not be spun into an anti-Muslim rant or a demonstration of religious intolerance. Most Muslims have no problem removing the garment for identification purposes. Get a grip people.
The good news is that the Philadelphia Police are doggedly pursuing the suspects and are offering a $5,000 reward. They have narrowed their search and even dispatched police recruits to go door-to-door within a two block radius of where the girl was found distributing flyers to residents. They are also re-interviewing family members because they don’t believe that the kidnapping was a random act; that Na'illa was targeted.
They have also released descriptions of two suspects. The African American woman is thought to be in her late 20s, 5’8” tall, a thin build although she may be pregnant, has green or light-colored eyes, and goes by the name Rashida. Her accomplice is a Caucasian or light skinned male, in his 30s, with short brown hair and was last seen wearing sweatpants with a long-sleeved blue shirt. If you have any information, please call Detective Gonzalez of the Special Victims Unit at 215-685-3251/3252/3265.