Last week a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit by the father of Ahmed Mohamed, the teen whose homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb.
Ahmed’s story captured national attention in 2015 when he was arrested at school for suspicion of possession of a hoax bomb. Police quickly ascertained there was no true threat, but thought that the young man might have brought and displayed the “clock” with the intent to cause alarm or make others believe it was a bomb. Arrested at school, Mohammed spent several hours in custody before being released to his parents.
The internet reacted with a great fury against the system, the teachers, administrators, and police, who were castigated for crushing the creative spirit of a brilliant boy. (S.T.E.M shaming!) Complete with a hashtag campaign (#IStandWithAhmed), the world then heaped great hosannas on the boy. Microsoft immediately dispatched thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise; President Obama invited him to the White House, Twitter invited him to intern there, etc., etc.
The suit blamed the city of Irving Texas as well the school district for religious and racial discrimination and demanded fifteen million dollars as well as handwritten apologies from the mayor and chief of police.
There were two problems. Mohammed didn’t build any clock, and the school, town, and police didn’t discriminate against him for being Muslim. The clock was quite simply an old Radio Shack clock that he took out of the plastic case. Thanks to internet sleuths, we know the model information and everything, both of the clock itself and the pencil case the boy carried it in to school.
“And the people at the school thought it might be a bomb, perhaps because it looks exactly like a f*****g bomb” Bill Maher – Real Time
As it turns out, the judge agrees with Mr. Maher writing:
Principals are responsible for the safety of students and others on campus and, as part of that responsibility, often have to make decisions quickly and with little information. … A principal’s fate is not so hapless that, on the one hand, by not taking action he is faced with the gruesome prospect of death or serious injury of persons had the device actually been a bomb and exploded; and, on the other hand, he is faced with a federal lawsuit for denial of a student’s constitutional rights because the device turned out not to be a bomb.
The ruling leaves open the possibility of the family filing an amended suit, and the AP reported that they plan to do just that.
Serendipitously, while researching this story, I saw another clock hoax bomb story was in the news last week. What are the odds?
On Friday night, Daphne Page was arrested and charged with the manufacture, possession or use of explosives outside of a supermarket near Richmond, VA. Her crime? When she went into the Whole Foods for groceries, she inadvertently left a novelty alarm clock in the backseat. It was designed to look like a bundle of dynamite. Ms. Page purchased the clock at a yard sale for one dollar and was going to give it to her daughter.
She had to spend the whole weekend in jail until a judge released her on Monday with a $2,500 bond. No evidence has been presented that Ms. Page intended anything other than to give her daughter a laugh. No hashtag campaigns are trending as yet for Ms. Page. If it was Ms. Mohammed? They would have run out of Tweets by now.