A growing narrative across social media has accused police of being too eager to suspend the search for Naya Rivera after the actress went missing on Wednesday while boating in a California lake with her 4-year-old son. A good number of tweets have insisted that Rivera is a Black woman whose life should matter enough to authorities to continue searching nonstop until they find her.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday night that it would continue searching Lake Piru at “first light” on Thursday. However, critics holding out hope that Rivera was still alive tweeted that timing would be too late and pointed to multiple instances of other law enforcement agencies searching well into the night and early morning hours for other boaters who have gone missing in a similar fashion in the past.
With Rivera being of Afro-Latina heritage, a growing number of tweets were accusing the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department of not caring enough about Black lives to continue their search.
Police first tweeted around 6:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday that they were searching for a “possible drowning victim at Lake Piru” before confirming hours later that Rivera was the subject of their search.
It was unclear if any outside law enforcement agencies assisted with the search. There was no evidence of “foul play,” cops said before suspending the search around 10 p.m. local time.
The unfortunate situation began when Rivera rented a boat around 1 p.m. on Wednesday. After the boat was hours overdue to be returned, another boater found her boat with just her son inside, sleeping. Her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, who was found wearing a lifevest, told police that he and his mother were swimming but that she never got back into the boat.
According to the Washington Post, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, Capt. Eric Buschow, said he expected there to “a lot of resources” to help find Rivera on Thursday. But that would suggest that police were looking more to recover than to rescue, a factor that may have played into the decision to suspend the search instead of continuing to look.
One person on Twitter posted screenshots of media coverage of other boaters going missing and responding law enforcement refusing to suspend those searches despite a lack of visibility due to darkness.
To be sure, it has become fairly standard to suspend water searches upon nightfall. However, with proof that it can be done, Twitter users didn’t want to hear any excuses why that couldn’t happen this time around, too.
Perhaps even more infuriating was the fact that upon going to the website for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, visitors are promptly greeted by a message that says, “Ventura County Sheriff’s Deputies are on duty and prepared to respond to any public need.”
Rivera, 33, first shot to acting prominence by starring in the hit TV show “Glee.” She also became a professional singer, having dropped a single but never releasing a full-length album.
In an ominous sign, one of Rivera’s final social media psts offered a cryptic message to her millions of followers. “no matter the year, circumstance, or strifes everyday you’re alive is a blessing,” she posted on July 2. “make the most of today and every day you are given. tomorrow is not promised.”
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.