Nearly one year after 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a “suspicious-looking” homemade clock to class, his family has filed suit against his former Texas school district, the principal of the high school and the city of Irving.
The lawsuit filed Monday claims that Ahmed’s civil rights were violated in the incident that made the 9th grader go viral last September.
Accusations of racial and religious profiling fueled the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. Even President Obama chimed in on Twitter, telling the boy: “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
The charge — possession of a hoax bomb — was dropped, but MacArthur High School suspended Ahmed for three days.
Citing a pattern of disproportionate disciplinary actions for black students in the Irving Independent School District (ISD) and a history of anti-Muslim sentiment in Irving, the lawsuit alleges that Ahmed was discriminated against based on his race and religion. It also claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was interrogated by police and principal Daniel Cummings for over an hour without the presence of his parents before he was arrested.
Ahmed’s family no longer lives in Texas. They moved to Qatar in October. But in June, they returned to Irving for summer vacation. That’s when they hired Hutchinson & Stoy, the Texas firm also representing a Baylor University student who claims the school ignored reports that she was raped by a football player.
A spokeswoman for Irving ISD responded with this statement: “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.”
Although a previous demand letter from the family threatened to sue the city and the school district for a combined $15 million, no specific dollar amount in damages is named in this lawsuit.
“I lost a lot of things in my life,” Ahmed recently told The Washington Post. “The number one thing people think about me is that I’m living ‘the life’ . . . But I can’t build anymore. My dad doesn’t have a job anymore. I moved from my house to an apartment. I lost my place for building things. Over [in Qatar] it’s very boring, I can’t do anything. The only thing I can do is use the Internet.”
To read more about what it’s like to be a 14-year-old who went viral, check out our story on Ahmed’s first few days back in America.
This post has been updated.