Pay up and say you’re sorry or face a lawsuit – that was essentially the message a Dallas plaintiff’s lawyer delivered to Irving city officials in a Nov. 23 letter, writing the constitutional rights of Ahmed Mohamed, the now famous teenage boy who was arrested after bringing a homemade clock to school, were disregarded.
The Mohamed family’s attorney, Kelly Hollingsworth, contends city officials, including Mayor Beth Van Duyne, launched a plan to “kneecap a kid in the media” to cover up their mistreatment of Ahmed.
If litigation is to be avoided, Hollingsworth is demanding a public apology from Van Duyne, $10 million from the city and another $5 million from the Irving Independent School District.
Ahmed, a 14-year old American citizen of Sudanese origin, was a freshman at MacArthur High School when the incident occurred on Sept. 14. An “electronics enthusiast,” the boy sought to demonstrate his technical abilities to his teachers and so assembled a digital clock over the weekend, which he brought to school in a pencil case, according to the letter.
A teacher remarked that the clock resembled a bomb and soon after the boy was removed from a class and interrogated by Irving police officers, who allegedly denied the Ahmed the right to contact his parents.
“Throughout the on-campus detention and interrogation … Ahmed constantly was pressured to sign a written statement admitting that he intended to bring a ‘hoax bomb’ to school,” the letter states.
“As if the pressure of having five uniformed Irving police officers were not enough none of whom saw fit to Mirandize (him) – (Principal Daniel) Cummings was threatening that if Ahmed did not sign the confession, he would be expelled.”
Ahmed was arrested but not charged. Fearing for their safety, he and his family have since relocated to Qatar, according to the letter.
The letter states the monetary damages Ahmed suffered are difficult to quantify but include the following:
- Ahmed having his 14-year-old face superimposed onto a famous image of Osama bin Laden beard included appearing below a blogger’s rant against the “parents of this little terrorist in training;”
- Ahmed being turned into Glenn Beck’s latest object lesson in how “this is really kind of the final throes of weakening us to the point to where we don’t ask any questions, to be ready for final confrontation, total confrontation,” while Mayor Beth Van Duyne, listens and nods, putting her imprimatur on Beck’s delusional conspiracy theories;
- Ahmed being portrayed as the “Clock Boy” on a Halloween costume website;
- Having Ahmed’s name, and particularly his likeness, forever associated with arguably the most contentious and divisive socio-political issue of our time;
- Ahmed feeling the burden of responsibility for his siblings being harassed and scared to go to school, for his father’s business suffering greatly from Mr. Mohamed’s absence, for one of his sisters being fired from her job, and for neither of his older sisters being able to find schools in Qatar; and
- The loss of security t hat goes with having Ahmed’s Irving home address tweeted out, and being labeled on Beck’s show as “pawn” of the architects of a “global jihad.”
Hollingsworth is an attorney for the Plainview law firm Laney & Bollinger.