Texas Teen Arrested for Bringing Clock to School

Travis Davis, Staff Reporter

[This article is part of our “Busted!” issue.]

Ahmed Mohamed, a MacArthur High school freshman in Irving, Texas, was detained by school officials and police Monday, September 14th, for bringing to school what was thought to be a bomb.

Ahmed went to school excited about the clock he made to impress his teacher. His engineering teacher told him that it was nice but not to show it to anyone else. When the timer that he had set to show how the clock worked went off during his English class, his teacher asked him what was it.   Upon showing her and explaining that it was a clock, she stated that it ‘looked like a bomb’ and confiscated it.  Ahmed was later interrogated, handcuffed, fingerprinted and detained by police although they quickly determined that it was not a bomb.  The entire situation appears to be an innocent accident that was made worse by some paranoid adults.

Unfortunately, many were quick to point at the color of Ahmed’s skin, and to his family religion (Muslim) as reasons for what many deemed a colossal overreaction.

From this incident, Ahmed was received a lot of attention from the media. There’s a hashtag still trending in his name as #IStandWithAhmed, and various invitations such as one to come to the White House. Mark Zuckerberg has also sent out an invitation for Ahmed to come visit him at the Facebook headquarters. The media has played a huge role in this entire case.

At what point does reasonable suspicion become unreasonable?  There are other known incidents of students whose punishments may not have fit the crime. For instance, a seven year old, by the name of Josh Welch, was suspended from school for two days from Park Elementary School in Anne Arundel County, after allegedly chewing his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. There was a lot of debate on the severity of the situation and whether or not it should still be on the kids record.

Another incident including a three year old girl who was suspended for three days from a Christian Pre-School after using her finger to “shoot” her teacher. [Disclosure: this student is my younger sister.] Incidents like these makes one wonder where the line between unreasonable and reasonable punishments for actions such as these should be drawn. The incidents also raise the question as to what can be done to ensure better knowledge of what’s reasonable punishment and what’s not reasonable. So that remains the biggest question concerning these incidents; where do we draw the line?

#IStandWithAhmed does seem to be paying off in a literal sense; our illustration is a screenshot of a crowd-funding page designed to raise money for Ahmed to go to college.  The total as of press time, about two weeks since the story appeared, is close to sixteen thousand dollars.