Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim teenager who earlier this year was suspended from school and taken into police custody for bringing a homemade clock to school, is asking the City of Irving for $15 million in compensation, as well as demanding an apology, the Dallas Morning News is reporting. If they fail to pay up, they can expect a lawsuit.
You may recall that on September 14, Ahmed, at the time a freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas, brought a homemade device to school that he claimed was a clock. The young man was known to be interested in engineering and science, and he would later claim he built it — and brought it to school — to show it off to his teachers.
— MetroBoston (@MetroBOS) November 23, 2015
Instead, however, Ahmed’s clock got him a visit to the principal’s office, due to a teacher’s belief that the clock resembled a bomb. Ahmed would later be taken into custody by Irving police and interrogated, before being released to his parents without charges. He was suspended from school for three days.
Ahmed’s story — accompanied by photos of the terrified teenager being led into an Irving police station — quickly went viral on the internet.
— ShakariSBriggs (@ShakariSBriggs) September 16, 2015
Mohamed’s story touched off an intensive debate about the role of racial profiling, the treatment of Muslims in America, and whether or not the whole thing was a hoax designed to get attention. Ahmed’s family would later claim they faced death threats. Ultimately, the family moved to Qatar after Ahmed was given a place in a prestigious Qatari program for young scientists.
On Monday, attorneys for Ahmed and his family sent a letter to the City of Irving demanding $15 million, as well as written apologies from Mayor Beth Van Duyne and Police Chief Larry Boyd, or else they’ll be facing a civil rights lawsuit.
In the letter, which you can read in its entirety here, Ahmed’s attorneys make several damning claims against the school principal, the police, and the Mayor.
- The letter claims that Irving police interrogated Ahmed without his parents; it is illegal under Texas law, says the letter, to interrogate a juvenile without his or her parents present.
- Ahmed’s attorneys claim that school officials and police deliberately targeted Ahmed because he’s a Muslim: “Let’s face it; if Ahmed’s clock were ‘Jennifer’s clock,’ and if the pencil case were ruby red bedazzled with a clear rhinestone skull and crossbones on the cover, this would never have happened.
- His attorneys also claim that his suspension from school — ostensibly for possessing “prohibited items” — was invalid, since Ahmed never possessed any such items.
- The letter claims that school officials and the local police began a media campaign of harassment and intimidation against Mohamed and his family in order to cover up for their own wrongdoing.
“In ways that are virtually impossible to comprehend, this thing turned the Mohamed family’s lives upside down. All semblance of what they knew before has vanished. But even after the scale of the eruption became clear, rather than trying to calm the waters, Irving ISD and the City of Irving launched a public relations campaign against Ahmed. They stoked the flames. They tried to push responsibility off on the victim — Ahmed. They have even implied publicly that what has come of this has been good for Ahmed, as though the resilience of this fine boy and his fine family somehow excuses what they did. It does not, for there is no excuse.”
The letter gives the City of Irving 60 days to apologize and compensate Ahmed and his family, or face a lawsuit.
Do you think Ahmed Mohamed and his family deserve an apology, and $15 million, from the City of Irving? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by Ben Torres/Getty Images]