*A Muslim ninth-grader in Irving, Texas has attracted national attention – including a tweet from President Barack Obama – because he was arrested and sent to juvenile detention Monday after his teacher insisted the homemade clock he brought to school was a bomb.
Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old at MacArthur High School, told The Dallas Morning News he’s passionate about robotics and decided to link a circuit board, power supply and digital clock display together inside a pencil case. He brought the device to school hoping to impress some teachers, but the first one who saw the clock immediately told him “not to show any other teachers.”
Later, he was pulled out of class and taken to the principal’s office. He says he was threatened with expulsion, asked if he tried “to make a bomb” and hauled out of the school in handcuffs by police officers.
“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” the student told the Morning News.
“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”
“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.'”
I expect they will have more to say tomorrow, but Ahmed’s sister asked me to share this photo. A NASA shirt! pic.twitter.com/nR4gt992gB
— Anil Dash (@anildash) September 16, 2015
After his arrest, Mohamed was transferred to juvenile detention, where he was fingerprinted and then released to his parents. He is currently serving a three-day suspension from school. The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed began trending on Twitter after Mohamed’s arrest was first reported Tuesday, with thousands expressing outrage.
— wiss.➶ (@BUCKVBVRNES) September 16, 2015
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
After the incident blew up across all social media – including responses from President Obama, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and a NASA engineer – the Irving Police Department held a press conference Wednesday to say there was no evidence of intent to create harm and any case against Mohamed would be dropped. The police also passed out a photograph of the clock he built.
A letter sent out to parents by the Irving Independent School District on Tuesday didn’t mention that Mohamed brought a clock to school, but said the police department found a “suspicious-looking item.” They urged parents to speak with their students about the district’s code of conduct, specifically the section on items prohibited from school.
That list of items includes weapons, fireworks, knives and pepper spray, as well as “look-alike” weapons, but makes no mention of clocks being forbidden.