Cops: Muslim teen arrested at school meant no harm

Sep 16, 2015 1:53 PM by News Staff, Photo: Twitter

IRVING, Texas - Police in Texas say they do not intend to pursue a case against the Muslim 14-year-old who was arrested after his English teacher thought the homemade clock he brought to school was a bomb. But according to community activists, the boy is still suspended from school.

Irving Police Chief William Boyd told reporters Wednesday that there is "no evidence to support the perception that [Ahmed Mohamed] intended to create alarm" by bringing the clock he had built to school to show his teachers.

According to Boyd, Mohamed, who told the Dallas Morning News that his "hobby is to invent stuff," was handcuffed "for his safety" and transported from MacArthur High School to a juvenile detention center on Monday after a teacher he showed the clock to thought it was a bomb.

Boyd told reporters that, under questioning, Mohamed was "not forthcoming" and "only said [the device] was a clock."

Asked whether a white student bringing the same device to school would have been treated differently, Boyd said "our reaction would have been the same."

"That is a very suspicious-looking device," he said. "We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school."

Alia Salem, the executive director of the Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national civil rights organization, told 48 Hours' Crimesider that she spoke with Mohamed and his family on Tuesday and that the teen said he was taken into a room at his school with five police officers and questioned. Salem said he asked to call his parents but was not allowed to. She said he was then handcuffed, taken to the police station, further interrogated, searched, fingerprinted and photographed for a mugshot. Finally, he was allowed to call his parents and they took him home.

Boyd did not comment on questions about why the teen was interrogated, or for how long, without an adult present.

"We believe this incident would not have occurred if this student was not Muslim with an identifiably Muslim name," said Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesperson for CAIR.

A spokeswoman for the Irving School District declined to discuss details of the case, citing student privacy, but said the information in the media was "very unbalanced."

"We were doing everything in an abundance of caution to protect all our students," said Leslie Weaver.

She also referred to a letter that the school's principal and district superintendent sent to parents yesterday reminding them not to allow students to bring "prohibited items" to school and to report any suspicious items of activity immediately.

On Wednesday, a student from MacArthur posted audio to Twitter of an announcement the principal made over the loudspeaker this morning saying that the school has a "very different version of what happened."

The case has ignited on social media, with the hashtag "#IStandWithAhmed" beginning to gain traction. President Barack Obama tweeted, "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."

Mohamed was wearing a NASA t-shirt when he was arrested and one NASA scientist tweeted an invitation for the teen to come visit his lab, while another tweeted an invitation to test drive the Mars Rover.

On Wednesday morning, Mohamed tweeted a photo of himself wearing the same NASA t-shirt and flashing a peace sign. The tweet read: "Thank you fellow supporters. We can ban together to stop this racial inequality and prevent this from happening again."


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