Ahmed Mohamed, better known as the Clock Boy, is back. He filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Irving, Irving Independent School District and Daniel Cummings, the principal of MacArthur High School. The then-14-year-old made national headlines when he was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school last September after a teacher mistook the device for a bomb.
The arrest resulted in a media storm of both support for the family and anti-Muslim rhetoric. After receiving multiple death threats, the Mohamed family, all U.S. citizens, moved to Qatar. This summer, they returned to Irving, but they aren't planning on staying.
“Despite the fact that (the Irving police) knew it wasn't a bomb, that he never threatened anyone, never alarmed anyone, they yanked him out of his chair, put him in handcuffs and arrested him,” Hutchison said at the press conference. “There was no cause for arrest. Even after the police acknowledged it didn't look like a bomb, the school suspended him. So yes, those are violations of his civil rights.”
Hutchison stated that Irving ISD (IISD) has a long history of discrimination, particularly towards black students, who they say are twice as likely to be suspended or disciplined than their white counterparts, she said citing ISD data.
“The only justice we have in the American legal system is money, so we're suing for justice,” Hutchison said. "They are not suing for a particular number. That will be up for the jury to decide,” she said.
Hutchison argues that IISD history of discrimination particularly towards African American and Muslim students culminated in Ahmed's arrest. In 2012, after a chain email was sent to school board and district officials stating that IISD was indoctrinating Islam, the district did an investigation into the alleged Islamic bias. The 72-page report found that in fact there was a Christian bias in the district's curriculum.
This study is one of many Hutchison cites in the lawsuit showing discrimination within IISD.
Ahmed started school in Irving in third grade, not knowing a word of English. This led to him being an “outsider” at school, the lawsuit states. When he began sixth grade at Sam Houston Middle School, he was still “an 'outsider,' still struggling with English and eager to impress his teachers,” according to the lawsuit.
He was bullied for his religion, called Sausage Boy and Bacon Boy because he did not eat pork. When he started middle school, Ahmed joined the robotics club and often brought home-made “gadgets” to school. He often fixed fellow students' and teachers' broken phones.
“On one occasion, when a tutor’s cell phone went dead, Ahmed rigged the battery and brought the cell phone back to life,” the lawsuit states. “On a number of occasions, he would take students’ broken electronics home and bring them back fixed.”
He had fallen in love with electronics at a young age. His father, Mohamed, was a business entrepreneur and at one point owned a cell phone/pager company. When the company shut down much of the remaining parts and inventory ended up in the family’s garage and a shed. Ahmed would sift through the boxes of gadgets, bringing choice items to his room where he'd build things to show his friends and teachers at school.
Now a freshman in high school, Ahmed says he can't build anything anymore.
“When I lost my house, that's where I had everything,” Ahmed said at the press conference. “I never went out to buy things. I'd just build things. So when all my stuff got taken away it was put in storage, but most of it is gone in the trash.”
He says he's not sure if he'll go back to school at IISD.
“The reality of it is that it was nice to meet the president and all these great people, but then again during that time I did not have a home,” Ahmed said at the press conference. “I've lost a lot of things and people might not see it because I never really talk about it. But I lost my home, I lost my creativity because before I used to love building things but now I can't. I lost my security. I can't walk out on the streets anymore without being covered up because I don't want to be shot because it happens here. Any time I walk out of the house there might be death waiting for me. So I have to stay overseas. But I love the States. The States is my home.”
The lawsuit is expected to be filed in federal courts later today.
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