Groups Condemn Racial Profiling of Texas Student
IRVING, Texas – Civil rights groups are calling on the Irving Independent School District to reverse the suspension of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old boy who arrived at school on Monday excited to show his teachers a digital clock he made – but was taken away hours later in handcuffs.
Edward Espinoza, executive director at Progress Texas, says his organization has launched an online petition supporting Mohamed's case.
"What we're asking the district to do is very simple," he says. "They should reverse the suspension, they should apologize to the family and they should re-evaluate their disciplinary policies. Sounds like they might also need some cultural sensitivity training as well."
The MacArthur High School freshman was interrogated by police and suspended for three days for bringing a homemade clock to school. Mohamed, an aspiring engineer, fell under suspicion when one of his teachers thought the clock looked like a bomb. Even after Mohamed's explanation was confirmed to be true, the Irving Independent School District stood behind its decision to suspend him.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said at a press conference Wednesday that Mohamed would not be charged, and found no evidence the teenager meant to cause alarm. Boyd also denied Mohamed's skin color was a factor in the incident.
In a statement, the ACLU of Texas urged the Irving school district to take steps to ensure that "blanket prejudices and the baseless suspicions they engender don't deprive students of an educational environment where their talents can thrive." Espinoza agrees.
"This is a clear case of racial profiling on a kid who was just trying to work on an engineering project," he says. "That's the kind of thing that we should be encouraging, not discouraging."
President Obama posted a tweet on Wednesday calling Mohamed's clock "cool," and invited the boy to visit the White House. The president's post said, "We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."