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Irving mayor defends arrest of Muslim teen with clock: ‘To the best of my knowledge, they followed protocol’

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Image: Irving, TX Mayor Beth Van Duyne (Official portrait)

The anti-Muslim Republican mayor of Irving, Texas released a statement on Wednesday without a word of apology or sympathy for the 14-year-old science student who was arrested because school officials thought the digital clock he built was a bomb.

At around 1 p.m. on Monday afternoon Mayor Beth Van Duyne posted a statement to Facebook in which she said that the school district had erred in calling police on student Ahmed Mohamed, but did not offer a formal apology to Mohamed or his family.

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At some point, Van Duyne — perhaps having been called out for the statement’s chilly tone and lack of sympathy — edited the statement to add a final paragraph saying that she understood why Mohamed’s family might be upset, but she still did not apologize on behalf of the city government or the school.

The first part of the mayor’s statement reads as follows:

The first concern for the Irving Independent School District and the Irving Police Department is always the safety of our children and Irving citizens. We are proud to have one of the safest cities in the country and that is due in large part to the diligence and professionalism of our police department. We are also proud that Irving ISD is nationally recognized by the National School Board Association and the Center for Digital Education for the school districts use of innovative technologies, STEM curriculum, and other practices that help our students excel in an advanced learning environment.

I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat. They have procedures to run when a possible threat or criminal act is discovered. They follow these procedures in the sole interest of protecting our children and school personnel. To the best of my knowledge, they followed protocol for investigating whether this was an attempt to bring a Hoax Bomb to a school campus. Following this investigation, Irving PD has stated no charges will be filed against the student. I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.

Then came the added paragraph:

As a parent, I agree that if this happened to my child I would be very upset. It is my sincere desire that Irving ISD students are encouraged to use their creativity, develop innovations and explore their interests in a manner that fosters higher learning. Hopefully, we can all learn from this week’s events and the student, who has obvious gifts, will not feel at all discouraged from pursuing his talent in electronics and engineering.

President Barack Obama invited Ahmed to bring his clock to the White House. He tweeted that bright, curious kids like Mohamed are “what makes America great.”

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[hat-tip to Adam Serwer]


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