Ahmed Mohamed—also known across the Internet as “clock boy” — continues to push back against his arrest last year in his Irving, Texas, public school. Mohamed’s family filed a lawsuit on Monday against Irving’s school district for their handling of his arrest, over a homemade clock some of Mohamed’s teachers mistook for a bomb.
The lawsuit accuses the school board of discrimination and alleges that the Irving Police Department arrested Mohamed without probable cause. Many of Mohamed’s supporters have called the incident a case of racial and religious profiling due to the Mohamed family’s Sudanese Muslim background. The arrest also spoke to the increased criminalization of behavior in public schools, as Jared Kellerwrote for Pacific Standard:*
It’s impossible to argue the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed doesn’t reflect a very real strain of Islamophobia that flows through post-9/11 American society — especially given the circumstances of his interrogation by police — but that’s not all his story represents. It’s a collision of post-9/11 Islamophobia and post-Columbine anxiety over school safety, expressed through the draconian criminalization of childhood experimentation and hijinks rather than, say, better checks on handguns. Sure, these systems appear to work in discouraging violence in schools (United States v. Lopez lives!), but at what costs to innocent students and their potential futures? And why is there no system of accountability to hold school administrators and law enforcement officials accountable for their misapplication of the law?
With this lawsuit, Mohamed’s family is reaching for that accountability—in a fight their lawyers described in the suit as getting to “our American principles of equality and freedom.”
*Update— August 11, 2016: This article has been updated to reflect Ahmed Mohamed’s background.