Mondoweiss — Last Sunday, Palestinian-American Buthayna Hammad attended a soccer match at BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston’s downtown 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, home to the Houston Dynamo. About 15 minutes after the game started Hammad was approached by the head of Compass Stadium’s security Nathan Buchanan. Soon she encountered a total of eight security officials, four from stadium security and the other four, Houston police officers.
Why? because she was waving a Palestinian flag. Stadium security informed her that her Palestinian flag implied a “racial slur” and therefore was in violation of BBVA Compass Stadium rules.
Hammad, a native of Houston, is an avid soccer fan. She attended the match with her “alt family from Honduras” including her Honduran boyfriend. The match was between Israel and Honduras.
The implications of this story are mind-numbing, and we’ll discuss that later. First, in Buthayna Hammad’s own words, cited in Free Press Houston (FPR): “Mere Existence of Palestine Deemed a ‘Threatening Racial Slur’ by the Houston Dynamo Organization.”
"I wore a Honduras jersey and was eager to cheer on this team, dressed to represent Honduras. To represent my own heritage as a Palestinian-American, I also brought my Palestinian flag. I made sure my flag was allowed (based on the size, etc.) and I was all ready to go. For the first 15 minutes of the match I stood up and cheered and stomped my feet with the rest of the crowd chanting “HON-DU-RAS” and waving my Palestinian flag, my colors vibrant and loud against a sea of blue and white…and apparently also racist.
I was told I had to sit down, which I did, only to be told to get back up again and follow the manager of security away from the stadium seats and into the concession area. I followed, and there waiting for me were three more BBVA security personnel and four police officers. When I asked them what was wrong, the manager of security, Nathan Buchanan, told me I am not allowed to carry this flag because it implies a “racial slur” and it is in BBVA Compass Stadium violation.
I asked him to show me evidence of his accusations and asked him how my flag, a part of my identity as a Palestinian-American, implies a racial slur. He could not answer whether he did not know or could not articulate why he was ordered to remove my flag and me from my seat. I was getting very emotional at this point, I had my flag wrapped around my neck like a scarf, and he said he would take my flag and “check it in” for me, that I was not permitted to return to my seat until I surrendered my flag.”