Ahmed Mohamed, on a family visit to Sudan in October 2015.ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images
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Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested last year after showing a home-made clock to a teacher at his high school, has filed a lawsuit against his former school district, its principal, and the city of Irving, Texas.
Mohamed’s lawsuit (PDF), filed earlier today, claims that the school district has a history of racial discrimination, and that the treatment he received violated both US civil rights laws and his 14th Amendment right to equal treatment under the law.
The suit begins by reprinting in full “The New Colossus,” the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the Statute of Liberty.
The suit goes on to describe the history of discrimination against immigrants in the US, dating back to the 17th century.
Later, the complaint alleges that Irving Independent School District has its own history of discrimination.
It details a 2009 report which found that African-American students in the district faced racial discrimination.
The complaint also describes the events of the day on which Mohamed was arrested.
That section reads, in part:
Ahmed plugged the clock in and showed her [English teacher Ms. West] how it worked. Ms. West asked Ahmed “is that a bomb?” Ahmed was surprised and confused.
In all the many times he had built contraptions and taken them to his teachers, none had ever asked him that.
Ahmed replied, “no, it’s an alarm clock, see?” Ms. West then told Ahmed she would hold it for him and give it back at the end of the day.
She placed the pencil box on her desk.
For the next several hours, the home-made clock was out of Ahmed’s hands.
There was no alarm raised, no evacuation, no bomb squad called. Nothing happened at all.
Later that day, Ahmed was pulled out of class and arrested.
The officers pulled him forcefully out of his chair, yanked his arms up behind his back so far that his right hand touched the back of his neck, causing a lot of pain.
They placed Ahmed in handcuffs and marched him out of the front of the school, four officers grabbing onto him, two on each side holding his hands and his arms.
They put him into the back of a police car.
They took him to the police station and booked him as a criminal, with mugshots and fingerprinting—all still without his parents.
Following his arrest, Ahmed’s plight was written up in the Dallas Morning News and later received international media attention.
Ahmed received praise from tech titans like Mark Zuckerberg and Jimmy Wales, as well as an invitation to visit the White House, which he accepted.
In November, the family wrote a letter to the city of Irving suggesting it was owed $15 million and that the damages against Ahmed’s family were “incalculable.”
Following the incident, Ahmed and his family have moved to Qatar.
The family, visiting Texas for the summer, gave a new round of media interviews in recent weeks.
Ahmed’s father, who has run for president of Sudan twice, is planning to run again in 2020.