Texas Police Arrest Kid For Building A Clock

from the this-is-infuriating dept

We talk a lot about police overreacting to things, but this takes things to a new and ridiculous level. The Dallas Morning News released a story last night about police in Irving, Texas, arresting 14-year old Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman in high school, for building a digital clock and bringing it in to school to show his teachers. Ahmed likes to tinker and build electronics. This is the kind of thing you’d think the school and the community would want to encourage. But, instead, he was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center, suspended from school and the police say they may charge him for making a “hoax bomb.” Except it’s a clock. He never said it was a bomb. He never implied it was a bomb. Just some teachers and the police freaked out about it.

He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.

?She was like, it looks like a bomb,? he said.

?I told her, ?It doesn?t look like a bomb to me.??

The teacher kept the clock. When the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period, he suspected he wouldn?t get it back.

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.?

Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name ? one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions.

The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. 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.??

The incredible thing is that the police flat out admit that he never claimed it was a bomb, but they’re still considering charging him with making a hoax bomb.

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.

?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.?

Perhaps there was no broader explanation because none is needed.

Even more ridiculous: they handcuffed this kid (wearing a NASA t-shirt, by the way) and walked him through the school as they took him away. This picture is shameful.

You can also see him discuss the invention in this YouTube video:
The most depressing part of the news article is how it ends:

He?s vowed never to take an invention to school again.

Curiosity killers.

The school has now doubled down on this move, by sending a letter to parents at the school congratulating themselves for this whole thing:

While we do not have any threats to our school community, we want you to be aware that the Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious-looking item on campus yesterday. We are pleased to report that after the police department’s assessment, the item discovered at school did not pose a threat to your child’s safety.

Our school is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation, and we are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws. Please rest assured that we will always take necessary steps to keep our school as safe as possible.

Even worse… the school is using this as a “teaching moment” telling parents to tell their kids to report any “suspicious” things. Like brown kids being curious and inventing cool shit:

I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited. Also, this is a good time to remind your child how important it is to immediately report any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior they observe to any school employee so we can address it right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students.

And by “address” it, apparently, they mean arrest bright kids for being curious and gifted.

The whole “bomb hoax” thing based on authorities getting confused about a non-bomb reminds me of that time, back in 2007, when Cartoon Network tried to promote Adult Swim with light up boxes of various characters placed around Boston — and because some people freaked out and the city was shut down, Boston’s mayor declared the marketing stunt a “bomb hoax.” Once again, if someone is building something that you mistake for a bomb, and they had no intention of passing it off as a bomb, nor does it actually look like a bomb, it’s not a bomb hoax. At all. And you look ridiculous calling it out as such.

And, of course, you look that much more ridiculous when you not only overreact like this, but do it against a clearly intelligent and talented teenager who likes to tinker with electronics.

Update: A picture of the clock has now been released. Nothing about it changes the story at all.

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Comments on “Texas Police Arrest Kid For Building A Clock”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Repeat after me students: 'The Authorities Are Never Wrong'

His ‘crime’ wasn’t building a bomb, which he clearly didn’t do, it was making those in charge look like cowardly chumps and refusing to follow along with the narrative that had been pre-determined before they ever saw or talked to him.

I think it’s pretty obvious that they had determined before they ever talked to him that he was guilty, and they just wanted to trick and/or coerce him into ‘admitting’ it so they could use it to justify their actions. He seemed to have refused, and stuck to reality, which naturally just made them even more angry, hence the threat of ludicrous charges and the handcuffs through his school, punishment for not going along with the scenario they had already decided on.

They had decided on his guilt, how dare he contradict them and claim to be his innocent? /s

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bigotry. Yeah. Let’s totally play the race card here, making sure to slip in a bit about how uneasy the kid felt because of his dark skin.

Having a picture of him with the much darker-skinned cop who was involved in all this totally undermines that whole narrative, but we’ll just pretend that didn’t happen. Nope, this is all about racism, folks!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

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.”

Emphasis mine.

Let’s put it this way, if I were a police officer who didn’t know any of the following people, exactly which of these names give me the permission to assume they’re bomb builders?

– Theodore Kaczynski
– Timothy McVeigh
– Ahmed Mohamed

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It used to be that denial of witchcraft could be interpreted as proof of guilt, which left a rather uncomfortable question that nobody wanted to address: how are true innocents supposed to defend themselves then?

Nowadays no one believes in witchcraft anymore, but have no fear, the ancient logic lives on in allegations of racism. Hooray for progress!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

With no context whatsoever, there’s really no way to explain that. The only obvious thing that comes to mind is that simply because he had never met this officer before doesn’t mean the officer didn’t know who he was, for any number of reasons legitimate or otherwise. But without more information it’s impossible to draw any valid conclusions.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Having a picture of him with the much darker-skinned cop who was involved in all this totally undermines that whole narrative, but we’ll just pretend that didn’t happen. Nope, this is all about racism, folks!”

So….your contention is that an African American can’t be racist against an Arab-American or a Persian-American? In other words, there’s white people and then everything else is lumped together? I love when someone’s claim that there’s no racism in a story in itself shows their subtle racist bias….

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep, there’s also plenty of bigotry between Japanese and Koreans, but a white bigot would call them both “Asians” (or worse, of course). Plus, the caste system in India and various other examples of bigotry against people of the “same” race.

To think that people of the same “race” cannot be bigoted against each other is pretty dumb.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I may have worded that badly. I didn’t mean that the term “Asian” was bigoted, I meant that the bigot wouldn’t know or care about the difference between Japanese and Koreans, yet those group can still be bigoted against each other.

The point is, even if they’re viewed as the same race, people can easily be bigoted against each other. They can’t necessarily be racist toward each other, but that’s far from the only type of bigotry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, I for one think that it’s entirely possible that race is not the issue, and the bigotry involved if religion based, not race based. (To be perfectly honest, I think the most likely explanation is a mixture of racial and religious bigotry, but religious alone is quite sufficient to explain everything that happened…). Would this have happened to a black baptist, or more germane, a Hindu Indian kid?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The Irving PD now has stated in a press release that religion (not necessarily race) had something to do with it. Otherwise, there is no explanation for this statement in their press release:

The Irving Police Department has always experienced an outstanding relationship with the Muslim community. We recognize situations like this present challenges, but we are committed to continuing to build a positive relationship.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Of course she would! Everyone knows women are inherently unsuitable for engineering; it’s a scientifically proven fact! And a blonde at that? What could possibly be more suspicious?

(Note for the sarcasm-impaired: I’m blonde, and I do a lot of hobby work in a field of computing that was single-handedly invented by a woman. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of people out there dumb enough to believe every word of that up there.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Racism isn’t about the color of the skin. It’s about race. That’s why the full sentence was “Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion“.

That one or more of the officers involved in this happened to be of a descent that provides them with a darker skin tone than their victim is irrelevant. Nothing about that keeps them from being racist against people of arabic descent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Thank heavens these nutters weren’t around when I was going to school. Crap we were always bringing things to school to show others what we had made.

Heck I had one science teacher for two years who had a set requirement for her class of one project every 6 weeks. Bonus points for a show and tell model you made. Every class made an Estes rocket and every class went out side to actually fire it and watch it go up.

I wonder what happened to all those bright and curious students making things on their own time?

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The schools reaction to it did however endanger the child.

The school’s reaction to it did more to endanger the child’s safety…it endangered the safety of us all. We need kids who think outside of the box, who explore new ideas and new concepts, that enjoy STEM and want to make the world a better place. Now the other children in the class have learned not to question authority, not do anything “out-of-the-ordinary,” not show off their intelligence and ingenuity; take your Soma, do your job, keep your head down, and don’t worry about your class and social status…

Brave New World indeed.

Oblate (profile) says:

“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.’”

High school aged me: “That’s because you’re a ******* idiot.” (That would only be said if I could stop from laughing in his face.)

There are web sites devoted to allowing former students to discuss the incompetence of the administration in my high school, yet even they would never have done something this stupid. The closest Ahmed came to making a mistake was showing it to his English teacher and not his Science teacher (if they have a Science teacher, I guess this is in Texas…).

Anonymous Coward says:

“The incredible thing is that the police flat out admit that he never claimed it was a bomb, but they’re still considering charging him with making a hoax bomb.”

I’m not a lawyer or anything, but isn’t (shouldn’t?) part charging someone with making a hoax bomb be, you know, actually hoaxing people into thinking it’s a bomb in the first place?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

they are essentially the same…

both like to be authoritarian (tell you what you can say or do), and the nationalism (blind followers) can easily be traded out for the definition of zealotry (blind followers) without even altering the meaning in any significant way.

If Nation A was a Fascist State, and Nation B was a PC state, both having laws to keep in that way, you will find that over handed responses to stupid stuff JUST LIKE THIS ONE would happen. There is truly NO fundamental DIFFERENCE to anyone that seeks wisdom between the two!

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Someone help Ahmed set up a Kickstarter

From the pic, it looks more like an Audrino board hooked to an LCD strip panel. Awesome stuff I wish was available when I went to HS. Of couse, I wouldn’t trade the HSs I went to for the prisons today’s HSs are. Between all the “zero intelligence” policies and the War on Terror, I don’t wish today’s schools on anyone.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Someone help Ahmed set up a Kickstarter

Yeah, and you’re right, those old 555 projects are still a tried and true thing for electronics enthusiasts, along with all those old 324 op-amp projects. I made all those years back, but you can still get the parts and do them today as well. Lots of fun projects from yesteryear are still fun today.

Violynne (profile) says:

When I saw the headline yesterday, it simply said “Middle school student arrested for bringing clock to school”.

Before I opened the article, one thought crossed my mind: “They’re not white.”

Way to go, Texas. So proud the state, school district, and the brain dead public must be to think this behavior against a child is justified.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“the moral panic over the “Ground Zero Mosque” “

As a recall, a lot of that took place well away from NYC, probably driven by the fact that a community centre with a prayer room was called a “mosque” by the media and a building several blocks away from Ground Zero was referred to as if they were building on the actual rubble.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Raspberry Pi's and Arduino's now illegal...

…because anything somebody makes with either of these (designed and marketed as things one can experiment and learn with) might make something that the clueless local police (NOT part of the top of their class by definition) and school administrations will not understand and then will classify as a terrorism inciting device.

My father and I built a depth sounder and a radio direction finder in our basement from a kit (Heathkit) a long time ago. Either of those would probably set off terroristic tinglings in likely both the police and school administrators in today’s environment. They were for our sailboat and were used for navigational purposes, strictly recreational, and actually kept us safe more than once.

People complain about student test scores in math and science while at the same time doing everything in their power to discourage activities that might enhance curiosity in those fields. Look they are programing a computer, they must be up to something nasty. Don’t get me started on chemistry.

I worry for future generations, for these and a lot of other reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

You've all been silent on over a MILLION Afghans and Iraqis murdered in illegal wars based on phony claims of WMD and "terrorist" threats, but now you're taking up for one Muslim boy?

Then it’s just a token so you can claim to run pro-Muslim pieces. Only other purpose served is to fill space with a safe topic. Who can be against this boy? No one! But where have you been against the insanity of the past 14 years in which your gov’t lied about WMD and Muslim “terrorists” to illegally invade and murder over a million people?

Yes, that’s harsh. But it’s true and connected. Techdirt (and apparently most of its fanboys) claims anyone questioning 9/11 is a conspiracy kook.

This is about attempt # fifteen… Looks as though each comment is being okayed again…

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: You've all been silent on over a MILLION Afghans and Iraqis murdered in illegal wars based on phony claims of WMD and "terrorist" threats, but now you're taking up for one Muslim boy?

Who said I’m against him? I don’t think he did anything wrong here; I just think it’s silly for him (and apparently everyone else) to pile on with knee-jerk assumptions of racism.

SSDD says:

Re: Re: Re: You've all been silent on over a MILLION Afghans and Iraqis murdered in illegal wars based on phony claims of WMD and "terrorist" threats, but now you're taking up for one Muslim boy?

“Who said I’m against him? I don’t think he did anything wrong here; I just think it’s silly for him (and apparently everyone else) to pile on with knee-jerk assumptions of racism.”

Liar. You said that the presence of the black cop proved that there was no racism in this case.

Once again, Mason Wheeler shits the bed. Same shit, different day…

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Silence on Techdirt.

Um, we’ve been far from silent.

I’ve pointed out plenty of times how the US terrorizes the world while pointing at radicals who terrorize their own nations. It’s still going on. There’s little more to be said but to say it’s still going on and it’s not going to stop and that we’ve lost any kind of moral high-ground over it.

We’re more savage than the savages. We just have spiffier (faux) laurels and chalkier togas.

But 9/11 is no more evident to be more than it appears than the Lincoln assassination. Still, it appears pretty damning to the US given like Lincoln and Kennedy we tried to cover it up anyway. But CIA trained Mujaheddin stealing some plains to suicide attack buildings because a Saudi rebel prince was pissed at our continuous sanctions and bombing campaigns over Mideastern oil? You don’t need a worse conspiracy than that to prove the ruthlessness of the United States.

In the meantime, you don’t have to be brown skinned to be kicked if you’re a smart kid who builds things, and you don’t have to be smart to be kicked if you’re a kid who looks different than the white mainstream. Poor Ahmed Mohamed got it coming in two ways, and now he’s learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that the authorities are his enemy.

So when he starts designing new bleeding edge tech, it’s not going to be Texas who benefits.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: You've all been silent on over a MILLION Afghans and Iraqis murdered in illegal wars based on phony claims of WMD and "terrorist" threats, but now you're taking up for one Muslim boy?

“You’ve all been silent”

No we haven’t. We just don’t rant like morons on sites that have nothing to do with such subjects.

“But where have you been against the insanity of the past 14 years in which your gov’t lied about WMD and Muslim “terrorists” to illegally invade and murder over a million people?”

Places other than tech-focussed opinion blogs, such as polling stations, political venues and physical demonstrations. You know, where the opinion not only matters, it’s actually relevant to the conversation.

“Techdirt (and apparently most of its fanboys) claims anyone questioning 9/11 is a conspiracy kook.”

No, just you. But that’s because you’re clearly insane on every topic.

“This is about attempt # fifteen… Looks as though each comment is being okayed again…”

So, you’re still too dumb to work out the posting system here? Figures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It never would have happened, lets be honest the teacher only took issue with the sound of the clock because he is Muslim. The whole bloody country is putting an emphasis on All Muslims are terrorists shoot first talk to after.

If all Muslims were not evil terrorists there would be no justification for the pointless security theatre

connermac725 (profile) says:

Stupid in Texas

so let me get this straight if my skin was darker and I had a muslim name all the electronics I built could be a bomb regardless of whether it is or not
so if calling it something makes it a bomb (even if its not)
then texas school officials must be insane yes they are frickin crazy lets get them evaluated because I say they are unfit to teach

tubes (profile) says:

Am I missing something....

Wasn’t it illegal for the cops to be interviewing/interrogating an underage individual without his parents or at least their attorney present. I feel really bad for this kid I hope it doesn’t discourage his hobby/talents because of some huge overreactions by the school administrators & law professionals.

tubes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Am I missing something....

You would think that the enforcers of the law would know the basics of law. It hasn’t ever stopped them but they sure do know how to get a lot of lawsuits started & everyone is guilty, school administration to the police. I’m sure the family has been getting a lot of lawyer phone calls. This is Texas, just from this site we all know how much lawyers love Texas.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Am I missing something....

They know that they are largely exempted from any abuses of the law they committ solely because they are police and are given the benefit of the doubt.

Nothing like giving power hungry lunatics and murderers a badge and a gun and telling them do whatever you like with next to no consequences

Anonymous Coward says:

I am proud to say that my kids have never set foot in a public school.

Looking back, we began our homeschooling path because we taught all of our kids baby sign language. This gave them tools to communicate even when they could not enunciate words. Nothing is better than the DVS’s from:


Our thought process at the time was why stop teaching them, so we didnt. We are not overtly opposed to public schools it is just that we can do a better job.

The Baker says:

The ignorant wants to bring us down to their ever declining level.

As other commenters have noted, I too would have been in much trouble in school if it were like today.
Growing up on a ranch and being a geek, I always had a .22 shell or 10 on me, had some sort of device with switches and LEDs that I made out of Radio Electronics or form Forrest Mims books from Radio shack or a project out of QST. Made a gun rack in shop class. One day we all brought our main hunting rifle to school for a special class on the care on them. No one was scared, no thought of threatening anyone even in jest. No parents, admins or teachers freak out.
This indecent is quite upsetting as it seems like we have less and less intelligent educators and authority figures and more without any common sense.
If these educators are the ones responsible for our future scientists and leaders, it in no wonder why most people in the Unites States could not pass this relatively simple quiz .
I hope my concern that our society will go the way of others who lock up the intellectuals and scientists because those in power feel threatened as they do not understand.
The question is, where is it truly breaking down and how do we fix it? Can we?

Anonymous Coward says:

not only are these the people in charge of our kids (the teachers and principal) but also there are those who are supposed to protect us! why is it that the police chief of these various forces always make themselves look complete plums but still manage to arrest someone, even if it’s a kid, charge them with some nonsensical crime that will be on the record for however many years, possibly ruining his chances of getting into a particular college and company, but thinks it’s alright! i doubt if there is a police force anywhere that is so full of piss and importance as in the USA!

Paul says:

Clueless School Administrators

What is it in many school administrators educational background that makes them so clueless and unable to think and reason effectively? The curriculum for teachers / administrators has some serious flaws built into it; they don’t seem to have any common sense or reasoning 101 courses in it. I’ve seen this type reaction many times; usually intertwined with the famous “zero tolerance policy” defense. A zero tolerance policy is not needed if administrators (and anyone else for that matter) simply uses their noggin before going off the deep end. What happened to taking each incident for what it is, figuring it out, and responding appropriately, without handcuffing a 14 year old and traumatizing him first and looking like dumb asses later? Here we had numerous so called professional adults who not only can’t tell a bomb from a clock, but can’t contain the situation in a reasonable way that does not cause emotional damage to a 14 year old, and who clearly was much further along in the intelligence department than any of the people who bungled the whole episode.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Clueless School Administrators

Let’s add lawyers to the blame mix. Any “zero tolerance” policy – the product of a school board, most likely – is designed as legal cover. It explicitly removes any need for thought by the administrators and lets the school board avoid responsibility for any potentially arbitrary decisions. They don’t discriminate – they just treat everyone with the same level of disregard.

Now, add a prevalence of emotional thinking to the mix and anything and everything is scary. Feeling safe is the goal, not real safety.

Joshers says:

Equal opportunity idiocy and fear mongering

I went to school in North Texas. I once created a “gun” out of a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels and tin-foil in art class. I remember having a pleasant meeting with several police officers, my parents, and several school administrators. To be fair though, I was never handcuffed like this kid, probably only because I’m not named Ahmed and I continuously and vehemently denied the cardboard tube was supposed to in any way shape or form be or resemble a gun. This was about 15 years ago. I’m sure things have gotten even worse since then.

Jason says:


“Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.”

Because, we don’t want heavily armed individuals interacting with the public to be intelligent. Nice to see the consequences of this policy in action.

“Looks like a bomb”… Cop looks like an idiot, and sometimes looks aren’t deceiving.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

The school was right

First, they’re under a gag order. You’re only hearing what the KID claims, plus what the cops have released.

Second, the kid didn’t “invent” or “build” a clock. In the first interview I found on the story, he “rebuilt” a digital clock.

From the picture, he broke the casing off a digital alarm clock and just changed the display to a larger one (if that – it may have been a large-display clock to begin with).

HIS claim is that he put it in a “pencil box”. He must have some huge pencils if that’s a pencil box.

This was the FIRST TIME he’d brought in a “project” (it wasn’t a project, he did this all on his own).

His FIRST PERIOD sci/tech instructor told him not to show it to anyone else, and he LEFT THE BATTERY IN IT.

His SECOND PERIOD English teacher heard the alarm go off and then he “showed it to her”. That’s not a clock if the alarm is going off, it’s a damned trigger device.

Race card? Yeah, it was played. BY HIM. Muslim kid brings countdown device in a briefcase to school with big LED numbers? Uh-huh, he never, ever, thought that might be taken as a threat by anyone.

Expect that if the gag order is lifted on the school we find out that he was getting smacked around by a few bullies on a daily basis and “built” this to “scare” them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The school was right

So much semantics in one post, and you make it sound soooo bad…let’s dissect these for a moment:

His FIRST PERIOD sci/tech instructor told him not to show it to anyone else, and he LEFT THE BATTERY IN IT.

So the 1st period instructor certainly must not’ve thought it was a bomb…the battery being in it is irrelevant, if he only asked him not to SHOW it.

That’s not a clock if the alarm is going off, it’s a damned trigger device.

Is the thing next to your bed that wakes you up in the morning ALSO a “damned trigger device?”

Muslim kid brings countdown device in a briefcase to school with big LED numbers?

And by “countdown device” you mean something similar to the thing that wakes you up in the morning?

Using arbitrary definitions to fit some bullshit narrative doesn’t make it any more believable. If you’re so fucking scared of clocks, perhaps you should set an example and get rid of every single “trigger device,” “countdown device” or whatever the fuck else you think you should call a “clock” in order to defend school administrators who are incapable of utilizing “common sense” (AKA “material support for terrorists” in your fucked up world).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The school was right

It astounds me how many people follow this line of thought.

I can understand one point, which is acting on the beeping device. If I were a teacher I might be curious.

The real trouble started when he showed the teacher the clock. If I was suspicious enough and saw it, and saw the obvious microcontroller setup a million hobbyists have with no explosives in sight I’d send him on his way.

We even have a picture now. It doesn’t look like anything dangerous. It’s worrying that people think this was remotely an adequate response.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: The school was right

Again, the school is under a gag order. Nobody has heard THEIR side but the cops.

So he may have told the English teacher and the cops that it was “just a clock”. What did he tell his friends – or his “enemies” it was? He’s fourteen and apparently a nerd. The jocks are most likely making his school life miserable, and have been for some time – we must have more nerds here than just me, remember 8th grade?

I’m usually the first to jump all over heavy-handed idiocy, especially from LEO’s or self-appointed “gods” (educators).

We’re hearing one side, and some Islam Defense group jumped on this almost as soon as it happened. And as is happening here, the bulk of the “comments” on it are going to be racist – while ignoring what happened, the intent behind it, and, most importantly, cui bono.

We’re already seeing the latter right here – all the calls that the kid should get a free ride at some tech school.

Taking the screws out (or just bashing the casing off with a hammer) of an alarm clock isn’t “inventing” or “creating”. What was this “project” SUPPOSED to be? He didn’t “build” anything, he just re-cased a clock. Nobody assigned this “project” to him, he did it on his own. Also, if you watch the video(s) of how creative he is, he’s not only holding the soldering iron incorrectly, he’s jabbing it at the legs of surface-mount components.

C’mon, apply some damned logic to this, not just knee-jerk “Texas!” “racist”, “anti-muslim” rhetoric.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The school was right

Exactly like that.

Run the wires from the alarm on any clock (even if you don’t recase it first) or from the speaker on a cell phone and you’ve got a trigger – now all you need is a charge.

Why’d the kid do it? Re-case a clock with a large digital display and bring it to school?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The school was right

What does it matter what he told people? Once you see the device and see that it is NOT a bomb the case is closed. There might be some punishment for making those kinds of threats (which no one has even mentioned, keep in mind a lot of the members of the school have taken their voices to the internet) but it’s not nearly level to what they were going to charge him for.

As for what it’s for, maybe he just wanted to do it? It’s one of the most common electronics projects and he could’ve just wanted to show people a cool thing.

I didn’t even mention racism or anything of the sort. I simply don’t see any reason as to why the issue escalated to what it did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The school was right

It’s not the knowledge or building/recasing/whatever a clock or not.

He has the proper attitude to be there: he likes to tinker with things, even if he’s doing so clumsily.

Most people, including adults, don’t know how to do so. Well, even changing the batteries of their clocks might be an issue for them.

Damn, some don’t even know how to set the alarm of their clocks (or for that matter, use their own microwave).

If I was the principal of a tech school, I’d prefer people like him that are curious than people with good grades, that are good at studying, and that’s it.

Those are the kind of people that invent things later on, even if now he’s just recasing a clock.

Btw, I don’t know you, but I don’t know many kids that know how to use a soldering iron; or that even have touched one. Or adults, for that matter.

Bamboo Harvester (profile) says:

Re: Re: The school was right

So substitute “assignment” for “project”.

He did it on his own. It wasn’t a school project or assignment. It was the VERY FIRST such time he’d brought anything in to “show” people.

And all he did was knock the case off an existing clock and remount (apparently just the display) in another case.

PopeyeLePoteaux (profile) says:

Re: The school was right

“Expect that if the gag order is lifted on the school we find out that he was getting smacked around by a few bullies on a daily basis and “built” this to “scare” them.”

Bullshit, if that was the case, we would now by now from external sources (classmates, parents, etc.), unless you alredy know that he is “invisible” to the rest of the school because he has no friends and no one has ever interacted with him, at all.


“Authority is NEVER WRONG” /s

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: As one of the kids who DID get "smacked around by bullies on a daily basis"...

…I can empathize with those that decide to shoot up a school or build actual bombs to terrorize the neighborhood, since it was very clear in my case that the protection of the law did not apply to me and I did not have any inalienable right to life and liberty, given that the ogres who made my life miserable were free to take their liberties on me with impunity.

Most victims of bullies are too lawful for their own good do respect the lives and rights of others, often including the bullies that assault them. And the weakness and infrequency of reprisal against bullies and the society that enables them allows for the community to pay lip-service to stopping minor-on-minor assault without actually doing anything.

If kids actually did build real bombs and resorted to real murder and real terror when they’ve had enough, maybe society would actually look towards causes of child-on-child violence and not simply disparage the victims for being small and weak.

Of course, part of the problem is that like birds or sharks in a frenzy, when someone does show weakness, our species has a tendency to swarm and peck them to death, as was shown to be the case here. Absent in the reports is a single advocate for Ahmed noting that all he built was a timepiece, and the key part of a bomb is a payload.

DigDug says:

Fire the entire faculty at that school because they obviously lied to get their jobs.

It’s obvious to me that not a single member of that School’s staff has more than 1 brain cell to rub together, so they had to have lied about their credentials to get their jobs.

I’d also arrest the police officers involved because they are prejudicial hate mongers who also appear to have no functioning neural capacity.

Being smarter than everyone at the school and in that local police department isn’t a crime, however, it should be. Not for the smart student, but for the idiots running the school and police department.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe they should waterboard the kid til they get him to confess that he’s really a terrorist building a bomb and was gonna blow up the school.


What the hell happened to common sense and using that grey matter between your ears? I feel sorry for kids today that have to go through all this ridiculous crap while just trying to get an education. Most are probably just praying for a good old fashioned bully than having to deal with this.

Zonker says:

Thank goodness the school prevented another brilliant student from potentially becoming an electrical engineer or other professional occupation. Now hopefully the rest of the school children can just be kept dumb enough so they could all grow up to be proper Texas English teachers, school administrators, East District patent jurors, or even police officers if they aim low enough!


Anonymous Coward says:

Idiots Rule in Irving Texas

The cretinous nincompoops staffing the Irving Independent School District in Texas namely principal Daniel Cummings and superintendent Jose L Para along with the cretinous costume wearing know-nothings of the Irving Texas police department especially police chief Larry Boyd have reaffirmed the time honored adage:

Idiots Rule

These idiots have acted solely upon their base/uninformed opinions and personal biases to conspire in attempting to destroy the life of Ahmed Mohamed a fourteen year old student.

Is the local prosecutor going to allow the cretinous know-nothings of the Irving police department to bring charges and destroy Ahmed Mohamed’s young life for the audacity of building a clock at home and bringing it to school?

Every last one of the tax-feeding cretins involved should be given a clock built by Ahmed Mohamed, as a parting gift, and then be summarily fired.

Anonymous Coward says:

I mean, the clock was built in a briefcase and it would be reasonable to suspect that, with the beeping, it could be a bomb. Instead of painting this as Islamophobia and more liberal outrage, how about stepping into the shoes of the school for a second?

If the clock happened to be a bomb, and the school did nothing about it, then everyone would be up in arms about why the school didn’t do anything. Now, schools across the country are going to be more hesitant to accuse students of bringing in weapons.

Ahmed was released after this whole thing was cleared up. Can we stop painting everything in this world about race and bigotry?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

On Wednesday, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said that the arresting officers quickly determined there was no immediate threat the device would detonate, which is why they did not evacuate the high school.

Seems like they came to the conclusion pretty quickly that this wasn’t a threat, yet continued anyways.

Schools across the country are administered by idiots, who clearly lack critical thinking skills, and backed by police who lack the same. You should be more worried about the fact that our children are being educated by paranoid, mindless idiots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

so if someone thinks your holding a bomb and you insist its not you are perfectly alright with being interrogated without a legal guardian or lawyer present. Then when you still deny what the police want you to say you are again perfectly alright to be arrested in front of your coworkers, neighbours and taken to a police station and denied any rights to a phone call or a lawyer. All because it could have been real so your rights no longer apply.

If you are released then obviously it doesn’t matter that your rights were violated and the police knowingly broke laws to ensure that the chance you might be a dangerous criminal that had to be treated as such.

Anonymous Coward says:

Irving ISD: Where Children Come First

The Irving ISD handbook (slogan: “Where Children Come First”) lists as a prohibited item “a ‘look-alike’ weapon.” Is that a weapon that is a “look-alike”? Is that anything that “looks like” a weapon? What even does that mean?

Clearly, the school did not believe it was a “weapon”. At most it “looked like” a weapon. Is the Administration so unable to enforce its own policies that it needs to call the cops even for items that “look like”, but it knows are not, weapons?

Anonymous Coward says:

Texas Law

So no matter how they react, you are guilty:

§ 46.08. HOAX BOMBS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly manufactures, sells, purchases, transports, or possesses a hoax bomb with intent to use the hoax bomb to:
(1) make another believe that the hoax bomb is an explosive or incendiary device; or
(2) cause alarm or reaction of any type by an official of a public safety agency or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Irving PD Statement

Read the statement below from the Irving PD:

(Irving, Texas) Sept.16, 2015 – Earlier this week, school resource officers at MacArthur High School were notified by the Irving ISD officials about a student in possession of a suspicious device. Attached is a picture of the device that shows it was suspicious in nature. The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb. School resource officers questioned the student about his intentions and the reasons why he brought the device to school. The student only would say it was a clock and was not forthcoming at that time about any other details.

Having no other information to go on, and taking into consideration the device’s suspicious appearance and the safety of the students and staff at MacArthur High School, the student was taken into custody for possessing a hoax bomb.

Under Texas law, a person is guilty of possessing a hoax bomb if he possesses a device that is intended to cause anyone to be alarmed or a reaction of any type by law enforcement officers. Following standard procedure the student was handcuffed for his safety and for the safety of the officers and was transported to a juvenile processing area of the police station. Recognizing additional facts were required, the student was released to his parents, so further investigation could be completed.

The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there is no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm. No charges will be filed and the case is considered closed. Obviously, we will review this as we do high profile incidents of any nature, but it evolved as it did as a matter of safety and an abundance of caution.

The Irving Police Department has always experienced an outstanding relationship with the Muslim community. We recognize situations like this present challenges, but we are committed to continuing to build a positive relationship.

Chief Boyd plans to meet with the student’s father later today to answer his questions and to help him understand more about how this process evolved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Irving PD Statement

In a normal situation they would talk to the student with the parents present. They would not intimidate and use interrogation tactics arrest him parade him out in public for all to see then deny him the right to call his parents because he is under arrest. Which apparently in texas when you are arrested you don’t have any rights. Especially if you are arrested to cover up police maleficence.

In this case the students rights went out the window the moment the police got involved instead of going their jobs they chose to intimidate and try and coerce a minor. Who refused to say what they wanted him to and thus arrested him.

Digitari says:

Point of clarity

this is EAST Texas, not west Texas where I live, I lived in east Texas for 3 years before moving to the west. It is like night and day. My car was broken into 3 times, in the 8 years I have lived in west Texas my car has not been molested.

I am a nerd as well and was bullied in middle school, because I wore thick glasses and read books all the time, however it only took one shot from the binding of a paperback to the bridge of the nose to stop the school bully from picking on me and EVERY other nerd/bookworm in school. the bully later killed himself in a drunk driving accident, Karma really is a bitch!!

I can understand the school thinking this “may” be a bomb in the making but it really none of there business if they are NOT experts in the field.

The other point is, if it was a bomb the “beeping” would have been an explosion and the Teacher would not have had a chance to see the clock in the first place.

Some of us nerds like to get extra credit in classes we enjoyed.

wilhelm wundt (user link) says:

this IS the schooling goal: to make children alike

Now OBAMA and SUGARMOUNTAIN jumped on the fame bandwagon to use him as a propaganda tool,
and they act as they have no idea this is exactly what schooling is for:
please go to the white house and to facebook and explain them on live camera the the “Six Functions of Education”

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Stereotypes and Cognative bias

TL:DR Click the link to the funny lion. Humans want to think Ahmed has made a bomb the way they want to think the lion is trying to eat the baby.

There’s a common phenomenon now that our zoos have viewing tunnels with thick windows: Lionesses trying to eat babies. That’s not what’s really happening. The lioness’ facial and body language is anything but hostile or predatory (and zoologists think the lionesses recognize the toddlers as some sort of cub…thing and want to sniff at and maybe even protect it.) Still guests commonly think lion >> big cat >> predator >> eats things >> trying to eat baby.

I suspect that’s what’s going on here. Giving our Irving teachers, administrators and police officers the benefit of the doubt, they saw a brown kid named Ahmed Muhammed who had built a what was an important component of a bomb, in fact, the most recognizable component, we in the US have been conditioned to think brown Muslim Arab >> Terrorist, ergo it follows that when a brown Muslim Arab teenager creates a thing that could be used as the component of a bomb that he’s an adolescent terrorist turning into an adult one, much like a kitten disemboweling a stuffed catnip toy with its hind legs, in preparation for doing the same with live prey.

I don’t think anyone actively thought it through to this degree of detail, but our brains look for patterns like this and may have recognized a pattern that is consistent with normal zoological development, even though we as a species have a more sophisticated development process.

This might have been the pattern they were recognizing when they panicked were trying to affirm when they separated him from parents and advocates and tried to force him to sign a confession. I suspect that these people felt as a deep level that he was obviously practicing for growing up to become a terrorist.

To get beyond this presumption people have to actively employ reason. They have to consciously think things like:
~ Ahmed’s name, color and religion do not necessarily correlate to how his tinkering is applied.
~ Clocks are used for many things other than setting off bombs. In fact, very few clocks are used to set off bombs.
~ A boy making an electronic clock does not necessarily have the ambition of making more clocks or clock-related devices, rather he might go on to make other useful electronic devices not related to clocks or bombs.

It’s easy to conclude that the boy is a terrorist, or a terrorist-in-training.

It’s difficult to decide to disregard some indicators that the boy might be a terrorist-in-training and that he has yet to make life choices which will very probably not lead to actual terrorism.

I don’t have a solution for this. It would be nice to only hire rational people for teachers, administrators and law enforcement and to encourage the human species to seek to deescalate situations like this, even when a kid does make a hoax bomb or blow up the toilets with by flushing dry ice (which has happened in schools without police involvement).

But, I think, we’re going to just need to be aware that this is a very specific way in which humans are often stupid.

Also, As was pointed out to me by a friend, Ahmed is one of the lucky ones. He didn’t sign anything incriminating when he was cornered. He’s charming enough to look good on social media. His story caught the attention of news and some major figures. Plenty more kids get buried when a grown-up perceives them as a threat to themselves or to society, and their lives get ruined, and if they don’t turn into casualties, they do turn into terrorists*, only not necessarily the bomb-wielding Arab kind.

* Actually terrorists are a specific kind of criminal who engages in mass lethal attacks for political cause, we just like to use it a lot for hyperbole (e.g. pick-pocketing = terrorism) and I was using it as hyperbole in this instance. When we ruin kids lives and they survive, they just tend to become menaces to society that traffic in sex and drugs and murder and fill our impacted jail cells. But that’s not terror, just crime.

Anonymous Coward says:

ATF logic

The problem is that these idiot officials don’t even know what a “fake” bomb even looks like. A bomb needs an explosive payload of some kind, without which it could not go boom. If this boy’s homemade clock had a pair of wires going into a big steel pipe capped on both ends, then suspicion would have been warranted.

But simply having a few electronic components wired together does not even come close to making a working bomb. Unless of course a person could be charged with building a PARTIAL BOMB (timer without any explosive) in the same way that possessing a tiny part of a banned machinegun (i.e., drop-in autoshear) carries the same penalty as having the complete gun. That’s ATF logic for you, and if applied here then perhaps having just a single component such as a timing mechanism (or wires … or even a case to hold it) capable of being used to construct a bomb could count the same as having a complete bomb. As ridiculous as it seems, that’s exactly the way gun laws work, or at least the way the ATF creatively interprets gun laws.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I am enjoying all of the people who are trying to say the school did the right thing.
Do the mental gymnastics to overlook obvious racism hurt much?
This happened in a city where the mayor played the ZOMG SHARIA LAW WILL TAKE OVER THE NATION card.
She sat in a city meeting and said that everyone had a right to let council know how they felt, and then backhanded them with but you can’t bring your laws here to the applause of the terrified of brown people who support her.

If they thought for a second it was a fucking bomb, why did they not evacuate?
If they thought for a second it was a fucking bomb, why did the bomb squad not get called?
If they thought for a second it was a fucking bomb, why did they leave him in classes with the damn thing sitting in the office when he could use his mind to trigger it at any time?
If they thought for a second it was a fucking bomb, why did they toss it in the cop car and drive away with it?
If they thought for a second it was a fucking bomb, it was only after the fact when someone pointed out how horribly they fucked this whole thing up.

The crime was scaring someone who on edge expecting that one of the brown kids would bomb the school to overthrow the country. They are being wound up in a political game, by those who don’t believe the couched hatred they babble about. Fear gets asses in voting booths, and they were hoping for a lovely story about how they stopped the evil brown kid from doing something horrible and instead ended up very possibly violating a students rights, exposing the rampant racism, and the small minds who will use whatever power they can get to shove those who are different down.

Can we just admit that most of us know very little about those who are different than us, and assume different is bad. We are being fed a steady stream of ZOMG by the media, and just assuming all of these people are like others who have done horrible things who happen to be the same color or have the same faith. If one were to suggest that all Christians were evil people who invaded lands and killed those who were different in anyway, you’d be told off… but I’m just judging them by the Crusades… like people keep judging millions of people by the actions of a few.

GEMont (profile) says:

In China, white is the color of death.

In fact, if history has any lessons at all to teach us, it is the simple fact that most of the really heinous shit that has been done to people on this rock, was done by white guys.

Gonna take the non-whites a few more centuries to catch up, let alone exceed the white guy horror.

Then again, with the Five Eyes White Guys working their whiles behind the scenes, its is very likely that the non-whites will never catch up.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: The White Menace

I’d stick to the old Twilight Zone lesson People are the same all over.

Not because I feel the need to defend the white menace, but point out that color isn’t the factor power is.

We got there first when it came to ranching, steel and firearms. We were Martians, regarding the Earth with envious eyes and drawing our plans to conquer it. But if China was on the ball, or South Africa got lucky, it be them and we’d associate conquest with their race.

Human beings are not angels. We’re beasts not even slightly less beastly than our Chimpanzee cousins. We struck gold with our fabulous cerebellums and took this tool thing to truly amazing levels. But that doesn’t make us the noble masters of technology that we are so fond of imagining us to be. It makes us savage beasts with guns.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The White Menace

Not just ‘white’ but specifically English, who spread their language, culture, and religion across the entire globe like no other conqueror has ever done before. The British Empire (now headquartered in Washington, D.C.) never really went away, it only changed its form.

We can only wonder what might have become of the world if the Welsh or Scots or Irish armies had defeated the English all those centuries ago.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The White Menace

The really sad part about that very fact – the continuing White English take-over of Earth – is that most of the white english-speaking people of earth will actually support its continued growth and criminal behavior, simply because its apparently pro english-speaking-white-folks.

Because we let the rich write history, its not part of our general knowledge base that once the Empire gets established, only the rich, white, english-speaking people and their rich, foreign-speaking, non-white partners, share the wealth stolen from the rest of the world, not the general white, english-speaking riff raff that supported the empire in its rise to power.

The reason rich people keep doing this is simply because the rest of us non-rich folks, simply never learn the lesson.

The Five Eyes will of course succeed in establishing its control over the resources of earth, but because it is composed of nothing but the rich, it will bring about the entropic end of this era’s civilizations, through greed, selfish self-aggrandizement and childish irresponsibility, just as every previous empire-group has done in the past.

But because this group has the power of technology on its side, it has the unique potential and likely probability of bringing the entire human civilization to its knees, and possibly beyond.

Since the populations of earth will do nothing to stop this process, only time will tell whether we get to try it all again or not.

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