DALLAS (CN) - Ahmed Mohamed is demanding $15 million and written apologies from a Dallas suburb and school district for his arrest after his homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb at school, making the 14-year-old a worldwide celebrity.
His attorney, Kelly D. Hollingsworth with Laney & Bollinger in Plainview, Texas, sent letters Monday to officials with the city of Irving and the Irving Independent School District and demanded $10 million and $5 million, respectively.
The letters give the city and school district 60 days to comply or face civil rights lawsuits. Mohamed's civil rights were violated and he was "clearly singled out" because he is Sudanese and Muslim, Hollingsworth writes.
"Irving Police officials immediately determined that the clock was harmless. The only reason for the overreaction was that the responsible adults involved irrationally assumed that Ahmed was dangerous because of his race, national origin, and religion," the 10-page letter to the city states. "Let's face it; if Ahmed's clock were 'Jennifer's clock,' and if the pencil case were ruby red bedazzled with a clear rhinestone skull and crossbones on the cover, this would never have happened."
Mohamed has stated the clock consisted of a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display inside a mental pencil case with a tiger hologram on the front. A photograph of a bewildered Mohamed wearing a NASA T-shirt while being led away by police in handcuffs during his Sept. 16 arrest has been widely retweeted.
"Ahmed never threatened anyone, never caused harm to anyone, and never intended to," Hollingsworth writes. "The only one who was hurt that day was Ahmed, and the damages he suffered were not because of oversight or incompetence. The school and city officials involved knew what they needed to do to protect Ahmed's rights. They just decided not to do it. Their after-the-fact attempts to couch their deliberate disregard of Ahmed's rights as being motivated by concerns for the safety of the other students has only added to the harm Ahmed and his family have suffered."
Hollingsworth says Mohamed has suffered "clearly severe" monetary damages that are "quite difficult to quantify." He says Mohamed's name and likeness are now "forever associated with arguably the most contentious and divisive socio-political issue of our time."
He says "Ahmed feel[s] 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."
Mohamed and his immediate family have since moved to Qatar, accepting a full scholarship from the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development for his remaining high school and undergraduate education. Hollingsworth says that other damages are easier to quantify, that Mohamed and his sisters had a right to a free and adequate public education.
"Ahmed first attended Irving Independent School District in pre-K, and he and all of his siblings had gone to school nearly exclusively in the district," the letter states. "When, two days after the incident, in coordination with the city, [school principal] Daniel Cummings went on the MacArthur High School intercom system and called Ahmed and his family liars, he took that opportunity away from Ahmed and all of his siblings."
Mohamed wants a written apology from Mayor Beth Van Duyne "acknowledging that she has never been presented with any evidence that Ahmed was a 'pawn' in any 'civilization jihad' or that the events here were planned by Ahmed's family or friends as part of an 'influence operation.'"
He also wants written apologies from school district officials and Police Chief Larry Boyd acknowledging Mohamed "never intended to threaten anyone and that his detention, interrogation, and arrest were wrongful and were made at a point in time when there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that Ahmed had committed a crime or was about to commit any crime."
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.