A ninth-grader in Irving, Texas, with an interest and terrific skills in tech and robotics, built a clock to take to school, and was subsequently arrested for building a bomb:
Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.Let's pause here for a moment to consider that a teacher, only the first of many, thought a clock looked like a bomb. And instead of doing something to protect his student against the possible consequences for carrying something around that a bunch of dipshits would mistake for a bomb, he just told him to put it back in his school bag.
Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed's circuit-stuffed pencil case.
So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it's a clock.
...He loved robotics club in middle school and was searching for a similar niche in his first few weeks of high school.
So he decided to do what he's always done: He built something.
Ahmed's clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn't get quite the reaction he'd hoped for.
"He was like, 'That's really nice,'" Ahmed said. "'I would advise you not to show any other teachers.'"
So Ahmed put the clock back in his bag, but later his English teacher "complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward." She told him it looked like a bomb, to which he quite reasonably replied, "It doesn't look like a bomb to me." The teacher kept the clock, and, later that day, Ahmed was pulled out of class by the principal, accompanied by a police officer.
They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he'd never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: "Yup. That's who I thought it was."So this is the basis on which this kid was terrified and intimidated: Some asshole's perception of what bombs look like based on what he's seen in the movies. Fucking hell.
...The principal threatened to expel him if he didn't make a written statement, he said.
"They were like, 'So you tried to make a bomb?'" Ahmed said.
"I told them no, I was trying to make a clock."
"He said, 'It looks like a movie bomb to me.'"
And, of course, a perception clearly influenced by the fact that this clock resembling "a movie bomb" was built by a Muslim child.
Ahmed never claimed his device was anything but a clock, said police spokesman James McLellan. And police have no reason to think it was dangerous. But officers still didn't believe Ahmed was giving them the whole story.They decided that, yes, they do take him into custody—and Ahmed was marched out of school in handcuffs in front of other students.
"We have no information that he claimed it was a bomb," McLellan said. "He kept maintaining it was a clock, but there was no broader explanation."
Asked what broader explanation the boy could have given, the spokesman explained:
"It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?"
Police led Ahmed out of MacArthur about 3 p.m., his hands cuffed behind him and an officer on each arm. A few students gaped in the halls. He remembers the shocked expression of his student counselor — the one "who knows I'm a good boy."Rage. Seethe. Boil. As a number of people have already observed: It's a real mystery why there aren't more people of color in the STEM fields. Instead of being rewarded for his initiative, creativity, and skill, and delivered on shoulders straight to the nearest science camp, Ahmed was delivered in handcuffs to the yawning maw of the school to prison pipeline.
..."He just wants to invent good things for [human]kind," said Ahmed's father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed.
...Ahmed [was released to his parents and] is sitting home in his bedroom, tinkering with old gears and electrical converters, pronouncing words like "ethnicity" for what sounds like the first time.
He's vowed never to take an invention to school again.
I am so angry and sad that Ahmed was treated this way. I hope he continues his "tinkering," and someday invents a device capable of measuring the profundity of my contempt for the adults who saw danger where there was invention, because of their own despicable prism of prejudice.