Prominent members of the Dallas hacking and technology community have pledged their support for Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student who was arrested when adults thought the homemade clock he brought to school was actually a bomb. Mohamed’s case was the subject of immediate outrage on the Internet, with President Obama and others extending invitations to show off his invention on the national stage. Now his fellow Texans are reaching out too.
Mohamed has been officially invited to deliver a speech at the next Dallas Hackers Association meeting, and the group’s members are trying to help him access laboratories in the area that usually only allows adults, according to Vice Motherboard. One organizer of the event, Tinker, told Motherboard they’re trying to support Mohamed because, as a 14-year-old, he could easily become isolated rather than hone his skills.
“He just started school; he’s excited and wants to impress his teachers so he brings this in and, boom, he’s arrested,” Tinker said. “They put him in handcuffs. That’s a frightening experience that can make you lose complete trust in authority and can make you not want to reach out anymore about [hacking and engineering].”
Another Texas hacker, who uses the identity WhiskeyNeon, said Ahmed’s parents have been given a yearlong membership to a new creative space called TheLab.ms, and they’re trying to give Mohamed his own lifetime membership in the adults-only club.
“We’re giving him an Arduino, solar panels, a lot of hardware as encouragement because we support what he’s doing,” WhiskeyNeon told Motherboard’s Jason Koebler. “As a hacker community, this is our backyard. We’re going to stand up and show people what this is all about. We want to encourage him.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, NASA engineers involved with the Mars Curiosity Rover, Google’s Science Fair organizers and many more took part in the #IStandWithAhmed campaign that took over social media Tuesday and Wednesday. The chief of police in Irving, Texas, did not apologize for arresting Ahmed even after announcing that no charges would be filed against the Muslim teen. Chief Larry Boyd said at a news conference that Mohamed’s continued insistence that the clock was in fact a clock was “certainly suspicious in nature.”