#IStandWithAhmed: Because We Arrest 14-Year-Olds For Making Clocks Now
Ahmed Mohamed is a 14-year-old living in Irving, Texas. His hobby is inventing and creating things–but when he brought in a homemade clock on Monday, he was accused of making a bomb, suspended from school, interrogated by the police, arrested, and taken to a juvenile detention center. America: land of the brave, home of stamping out creativity in young people.
Ahmed’s sister told me to post this. Yes this situation is real for those questioning. pic.twitter.com/Oxd0JxUS6O
— Prajwol/Ru (@OfficalPrajwol) September 16, 2015
Mohamed had created a clock by linking a circuit board and digital display–a pretty straightforwad engineering project. He put it in a pencil case that had a tiger hologram on it and brought it to school to show his teachers. He thought his teachers would be impressed–and they should have been, given that I’m fairly certain most 14-year-olds don’t have the technical wherewithal to make a clock. He showed it to his engineering teacher, who told him it was “nice” but instructed him not to show it to other teachers. But when it started beeping during his English class–as clocks sometimes do–he showed it to his English teacher. She said it looked like a bomb, he argued that it was just, in fact, a clock, and he was sent to the principal’s office. A police officer was waiting for him when he got there, and apparently upon seeing Mohamed stated: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” Then, in Mohamed’s own words, he was brought to a room with five officers, and interrogated. They kept insisting that he had made a “movie bomb,” evidently meaning one that could be transported in a suitcase. Then, he was brought to a juvenile detention facility where he was fingerprinted and mug shots were taken. At no point during that process was this 14-year-old allowed to contact his parents. Ahmed’s explanation of events is below:
While the charges have now been dropped, the fact that the situation progressed as far as it did is reprehensible, and Mohamed’s school sent out a letter after the fact:
My favorite sentence is this one: “I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited,” because it puts all the onus on Mohamed, for bringing in a clock that he built. What part of his item was prohibited I have no idea, but I have an inkling it has something to do with his name, his religion, and the color of his skin.
I understand the principle of “rather safe than sorry” but “rather be ridiculously reactionary than sorry” doesn’t have the same ring to it, and that’s almost undoubtedly what happened here. There were so many easy fixes the school and the police could have taken here–including contacting the engineering teacher who saw the project, looking at the clock, or just maybe not rushing to conclusions about a 14-year-old.
The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed is now trending on Twitter, garnering plenty of support for Mohamed.
That moment when school can’t tell the diff b/w a clock & a bomb but since the kid is brown, they arrest him just in case #IStandWithAhmed
— shannonwoodward (@shannonwoodward) September 16, 2015
— Indian Stats (@Indian_stats) September 16, 2015
— Farhan Khan Virk (@FarhanKVirk) September 16, 2015
I’m sad for the adults at the Irving Independent School District, who are so inundated by prejudice that they couldn’t work with Mohamed to figure out what he had brought in. I’m sad for his classmates, who were just taught that it’s ok to rush to assumptions and terrorize a kid. And I’m sad for Ahmed, who was forced to bear the weight of other people’s ignorance this week at 14. No kid should have to deal with that–that’s why #IStandWithAhmed.