IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – The teenager from Irving who was arrested last September after bringing a homemade clock to school filed a lawsuit on Monday. Police officers put then 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed into handcuffs and walked him out of MacArthur High School when his clock was mistaken for a bomb.
Mohamed is a Muslim, and his lawyers have said that his civil rights were violated. “These acts by the authorities show blatant disregard for the civil rights of this American,” said attorney Susan Hutchison in a statement.
At a press conference on Monday morning, Hutchison outlined how, she believes, that the city and the school district violated Mohamed’s civil rights. “They knew it wasn’t a bomb,” she said, showing off the device — no bigger than a pencil box. And yet, the attorney continued, officers still took the teen into custody hours later.
Police refused to notify the boy’s parents, and principal Daniel Cummings allegedly told Mohamed to sign a written statement or be expelled from classes. Then, even after police acknowledged that the homemade clock was not a bomb, the teen was still suspended from school for three days.
The story — including pictures of the incident — quickly gained worldwide attention. While many people on social media were quick to show support for Mohamed, the high school freshman and his family also received several violent threats. That forced the family to move overseas so that the teen could study in Qatar. “I get a lot of hate,” Mohamed stated Monday. “I got a lot of support in the beginning, but it’s the hate that sticks.”
Hutchison added that even she has received threats for defending Mohamed, “telling us that we’re un-American, that we need to leave this country.”
Mohamed returned to Irving this summer to spend time with relatives still living in the United States, but his stay will not be long. “For the safety of my family, I have to go back to Qatar,” the teenager said. “Right now, it’s not very safe for anyone that’s a minority.”
However, just prior to Monday’s press conference, Mohamed said that he was enjoying his time overseas. “School over there is really nice. I’ve made a lot of new friends,” he told reporters. “It’s an amazing opportunity to be over there.”
Attorneys for Mohamed’s family sent a letter in February to the City of Irving and the Irving Independent School District, where they demanded $15 million in damages for how this entire situation was handled — both at the school and at the Irving Police Department headquarters.
The family filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday morning against the City of Irving, the Irving ISD and Cummings. There was no dollar amount given. Hutchison explained that the amount would be for the jury to decide. “The only justice we have in our American legal system is money,” said Hutchison, “so we are suing for justice.”
Discussing the lawsuit in greater detail, Hutchison alleged that the Irving ISD has a history of discrimination against minority groups, and even teaches curriculum that is anti-Muslim in nature.
The Irving ISD issued the following statement on Monday:
“Legal counsel for Irving ISD has confirmed that the school district was named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed today in Dallas federal court by attorneys for a former Irving ISD student. 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. Irving ISD employees are focused on welcoming 35,000 students for the 2016-2017 academic year and doing everything possible to ensure each student is achieving his or her maximum potential.”
“I’ve lost a lot of things, and people might not see it because I didn’t really talk about it,” Mohamed added, citing his creativity, his home and his security among those things now gone due to this incident. “Anytime I walk out of the house, there might be death waiting for me.”