The family of a high school student arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school is seeking $15 million in damages and apologies from the city of Irving, Texas, and the Irving Independent School District.
The Dallas Morning News reports that lawyers for Ahmed Mohamed, 14, and his family have sent letters to the city and the school district that states the conditions for avoiding a lawsuit in connection with the September incident. Ahmed was arrested on Sept. 14 at MacArthur High School after he showed a homemade clock in a pencil case to a teacher, and she confiscated it because she said it looked like a bomb.
The arrest became international news and many attributed the city and school's treatment of Ahmed to anti-Muslim sentiment. Supporters of the boy included President Barack Obama, who invited Ahmed to the White House to show him the clock. But in the aftermath of the incident, the Mohameds' home address was made public, and they were being threatened with violence, so the family left Texas and moved to Qatar.
"Ahmed and his family lost their home," attorney Kelly Hollingsworth wrote in the letters. "The address that was tweeted out for all the world to see was the only home Ahmed and his five siblings had ever known. This family left their home in Irving because of a very rational fear for their physical safety. On an elemental level, the Mohamed family’s life as any of them had known it evaporated that day at the hands of the Irving ISD and City of Irving."In the letters, attorney Kelly
Hollingsworth contends that the school administrators and city police detained and interrogated the boy "despite there being no reasonable suspicion to believe that Ahmed had committed or was about to commit any crime."
"The only reason for the overreaction was that the responsible adults involved irrationally assumed that Ahmed was dangerous because of his race, national origin and religion," Hollingsworth wrote. "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."
From the school district, the family wants $5 million "as compensation for the damages Ahmed suffered at the hands of the Irving ISD and its employees," as well as "a written apology that Ahmed Mohamed never intended to threaten anyone, and that his detention, interrogation, and arrest were wrongful and were made at a point in time when there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that Ahmed had committed a crime or was about to commit any crime."
From the city, the family is demanding
- $10 million in damages
- A written apology from Mayor Beth Van Duyne "acknowledging that she has never been presented with any evidence that Ahmed was a 'pawn' in any 'civilization jihad' or that the events here were planned by Ahmed’s family or friends as part of an 'influence operation'"
- A written apology from Police Chief Larry Boyd "acknowledging that Ahmed Mohamed never intended to threaten anyone, and that his detention, interrogation, and arrest were wrongful and were made at a point in time when there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that Ahmed had committed a crime or was about to commit any crime."