Buthayna Hammad says she was waving the flag about fifteen minutes into the match when four stadium security officers and four police officers approached. They asked her to step away from her seat for a discussion. That’s when, she says, security manager Nathan Buchanan told her the flag “infers a racial slur.”
Houston Press “My boyfriend came with me. He is Honduran,” Hammad told Hair Balls via Facebook. “He was outraged and couldn’t stop yelling. I was a little more calm about it because I have faced racism [quite] a bit….” Hammad, a native Houstonian, says her parents are from Gaza.
BBVA Compass Stadium spokeswoman Gina Rotola told us via email that “the decision to not allow the Palestinian flag to be displayed during the game was based on the sole intention of maintaining the safety of those in attendance. The flag bearer was instigating the crowd, and we felt it was important to diffuse a potentially volatile situation as emotions began to escalate. We instructed the patron that she could retain her flag but should refrain from waving it in front of fans from the other teams.”
Rotola declined to explain how Hammad was “instigating” anything, but she told us that “A national flag from any country cannot be a racial slur, so if any statement of that nature were used, it would have been made incorrectly by an individual trying to deescalate a situation. Again, our goal is to host a fun, safe environment for all fans. Taunting, heckling, or creating a disturbance does not have a place in the stadium at any time.”
Hammad, of course, has a different take: “Well, in this crowd, like many others, there are a lot of ‘instigating’ remarks or actions. Example, the crowds were yelling things like ‘faggot,’ ‘mother-fucker’ etc. I don’t really speak Spanish, so I asked my [boyfriend] for a translation. I just held my racist flag.”