NEWS: Texas teen Ahmed Mohamed became widely known as “clock boy” after a highly publicized incident during which he was reported by school officials and detained by police on 14 September 2015 over a clock he had assembled that was originally dubbed a “hoax bomb.” On 23 November 2015, multiple news outlets reported that the law firm Laney and Bollinger (of Plainview, Texas) had sent letters to the Irving Independent School District (ISD) and the city of Irving demanding compensation and an apology.
Letters dated 23 November 2015 and addressed to those entities in Irving were made available on the internet on that date [PDF, PDF]. Page four of the letter addressed to the city of Irving alleged that neither school officials nor police ever believed the device Ahmed brought to school was an improvised explosive:
No one who saw Ahmed’s clock that day thought it was a bomb. Ahmed did nothing to support the inference that he intended to cause alarm, or any reaction at all (other than his teachers’ approval), in anyone. Irving police quickly determined that the clock was not dangerous. It appears that the police kept escalating the situation because they were frustrated that they failed to coerce Ahmed into signing a false confession. With no evidence whatsoever, Irving Police arrested Ahmed anyway. He was not Mirandized at this point either. After he was senselessly arm barred, four officers escorted Ahmed out of school in handcuffs. Police Chief Larry Boyd later claimed that Ahmed was handcuffed, “for his safety and for the safety of the officers.” One must ask, whose safety was the arm bar for? Ahmed remembers the look of bewilderment on the face of his school counselor, who Ahmed said “knows I’m a good boy.”
The letter then accused the city of Irving and local police of deliberately advancing a narrative that was damaging to Ahmed Mohamed via the media:
Mayor Beth Van Duyne went on Glenn Beck’s television show, helped with some of the set up, then sat back and watched — and apparently approved — as Beck and his other guest at the time turned Ahmed’s story into what they called “an influence operation” that was undertaken — probably by Ahmed’s father (and maybe his sister) — in furtherance of a coming “civilization jihad.” Beck later opined that this was the “Islamists” conspiracy to soften us up, so that we could later be attacked from inside. When the guest sitting less than an arm’s length from Mayor Van Duyne called the pencil box a “briefcase,” she did not say a word. She just nodded. Mayor Van Duyne also characterized Ahmed as “passive aggressive” and “less than forthcoming” because he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent while he was being illegally detained and interrogated by the police. Combined with the “civilization jihad” backdrop established by her friend, Glenn Beck, the Mayor fed a completely false impression about Ahmed and his family.
The lawyers asserted Ahmed endured a number of adverse effects following the incident, including psychological trauma and the family’s subsequent move to Qatar:
In the short-term Ahmed fears for his physical safety after receiving many threatening emails. In the long-term, we adults should know that — despite Ahmed’s efforts to be strong, and to prove that he is “a good boy” — he will experience pain and suffering as result of this for the rest of his days. A large segment of potential employers will steer clear of Ahmed to avoid controversy, despite his many obvious talents. There is no other way to put it: Ahmed’s reputation in the global community is permanently scarred. One also would anticipate that Ahmed, quite reasonably, will have a lifelong fear of the law enforcement and educational establishments that have let him down so terribly.
The letters concluded with a section titled “Demand”: the letter to Irving ISD requested a written apology and payment of $5 million “as compensation for the damages Ahmed suffered at the hands of the Irving ISD and its employees;” the letter sent to the city of Irving requested written apologies from Police Chief Larry Boyd and Mayor Van Duyne along with payment of $10 million “as compensation for the damages Ahmed suffered at the hands of the City of Irving and its employees.” Both letters concluded by stating:
If you fail to comply with the above demands within sixty days from the date of this letter, you should expect that we will file a civil action addressing the causes of action and events described in this letter.
According to an Irving-based blog hosted by the Dallas Morning News, Mohamed’s family “abruptly” moved to Qatar in October 2015 but hopes to return to Irving in the near future:
Ahmed became a symbol of Islamophobia to millions after his arrest, fielding invitations from state leaders and celebrities that led him on a world tour and to a brief chat with President Barack Obama. But after withdrawing from Irving ISD and recieving scholarship offers from across the country, Ahmed and his immediate family abruptly moved to Qatar.
At the time, the family said the move was best for Ahmed’s education. The Qataris were offering to pay for his schooling through college. But now the family says the decision had as much to do with a backlash in the United States. Ahmed’s home address was made public, and commenters on fringe websites threatened him with violence.
“Ahmed fears for his physical safety after receiving many threatening emails,” reads the [family’s] letter. “When they feel safe again, all of them want more than anything to come home, to Irving, Texas[.]”
The city of Irving confirmed to the media that they had received the letter from Ahmed Mohamed’s lawyers, and Irving ISD said “attorneys will review the information and respond as appropriate, as with any legal matter.” Neither entity addressed whether they’d consider settling the claims.