Video by PBS NewsHour
Ahmed Mohamed said he lost a lot of things, including his safety and creativity, nearly a year after his arrest in Irving, Texas, when police and school officials mistook his homemade digital clock for a hoax bomb.
“I get a lot of hate,” the 14-year-old “clock kid” said Monday in Dallas, surrounded by his family and lawyers.
“I got a lot of support in the beginning, but then again, it’s the hate that sticks because so much of it is damaging. I get death threats. What did I ever do to someone to get death threats?” Ahmed said.
The Hutchison & Stoy law office in Fort Worth, Texas, filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of Ahmed’s father, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The lawsuit said Ahmed’s civil rights were violated when he was arrested in September last year. Irving police eventually dropped their “hoax bomb” charge, but Ahmed was suspended from school for three days for possessing a prohibited item. But, the lawsuit claims, Ahmed didn’t possess any of the prohibited items in the school’s Student Code of Conduct.
The lawsuit named the Irving Independent School District, the city of Irving and MacArthur High School Principal Daniel Cummings. The lawsuit claimed Cummings “deliberately ignored” Ahmed’s request to have his parents present when he was being interrogated and threatened the student with expulsion if he didn’t sign a statement.
These specific claims surrounding Ahmed’s arrest, the lawsuit argued, pointed to the school district’s history of discrimination against Muslims and other students of color.
In November, letters were sent on behalf of Ahmed’s family, demanding that the school district and city pay $15 million for damages and offer written apologies to avoid a lawsuit.
Lesley Weave, a spokeswoman for the school district, told the Associated Press in a statement that officials will review the lawsuit’s claims.
“Irving ISD continues to deny violating the student’s right and will respond to claims in accordance with court rules,” she said.
City officials told the Morning News in a statement that their actions surrounding Ahmed’s arrest was “justifiable.”
“The city of Irving is prepared to vigorously defend itself and the justifiable actions it took in this matter. The legal process will allow all facts to be revealed, and the city welcomes that opportunity,” the statement, released today, said.
In October, Ahmed and his family moved to Qatar after receiving a full scholarship to attend an innovation school in Doha, the country’s capital. Ahmed is in the U.S. over the summer to visit family and friends, but said he will return to Qatar for his family’s safety.
“For the safety of my family, I have to go back to Qatar, because right now it’s not very safe for my family or for anyone who’s a minority,” Ahmed said during today’s news conference.