Almost one year after 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school, his family has brought a lawsuit against his former school district in Irving, Texas, the principal of the school, and the city of Irving.
The Washington Post’s Jessica Contrera writes that the lawsuit alleges that the young man’s civil rights were violated when the “suspicious-looking” clock was thought erroneously to be a bomb. The incident, which occurred last September, made the 9th grader go viral.
The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed was filled with accusations of racial and religious profiling. Even President Barack Obama had something to say about the unfortunate event:
“We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
The school, MacArthur High School, dropped the charge of possessing a hoax bomb, but suspended Ahmed for three days.
The lawsuit states that there had been a pattern of inequality in the Irving Independent School District (ISD) where disciplinary actions for students of color were concerned. It also alleges that there was a history of anti-Muslim discrimination in Irving, and continued by stating that Ahmed faced discrimination based on religion and race.
It also claims that the student’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was held for more than an hour of interrogation by principal Daniel Cummings and police without having his parents with him.
Ahmed and his family left Irving and moved to Qatar in October, but returned for summer vacation in Irving. They hired the law firm of Hutchison & Stoy, which is also representing a Baylor University student who alleges that the university did not respond to her reports that she was raped by a football player.
An Irving ISD spokesperson responded:
“As with any legal matter of this nature, attorneys for the school district will review the filing and respond as appropriate. Irving ISD continues to deny violating the student’s rights and will respond to claims in accordance with court rules. Because this matter is now in litigation, Irving ISD officials will have no further comment at this time.”
As for the damages being sought by Ahmed’s family, no dollar amount has been revealed.
Ahmed, reports Eline de Bruijn of The Dallas Morning News, still feels that anger is directed toward him. Ahmed is an African-American and a Muslim.
“I get a lot of hate. I got a lot of support in the beginning, but it’s the hate that sticks,” said Ahmed. “I get death threats. What did I ever do to someone to get death threats?”
Attorney Susan Hutchison says the school officials knew the clock was not a bomb and that Ahmed never threatened anyone, yet he was still yanked out of a chair, handcuffed, and arrested. She noted that the lawsuit is based on the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution and Title VI.
Ahmed, who became known as “Clock Boy,” brought the clock to school to show his engineering teacher, who applauded Ahmed’s ingenuity. Later, a teacher in another class heard beeping coming from the clock and mistook it for a bomb, reports the Associated Press.