Harbeer Sandhu

Mere Existence of Palestine Deemed a “Threatening Racial Slur” by the [parent corporation of the] Houston Dynamo Organization

Mere Existence of Palestine Deemed a “Threatening Racial Slur” by the [parent corporation of the] Houston Dynamo Organization
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Apparently, soccer fans are very nationalistic.  It is not uncommon for soccer fans to bring their national flag to a game where their national team is not even playing. In this spirit, a Palestinian-American woman named Buthayna Hammad brought her Palestinian flag to last Sunday’s Honduras vs Israel match at BBVA Compass Stadium.  Fifteen minutes into the game, Nathan Buchanan, head of security at the stadium, removed her from her seat, surrounded her with four Houston Police officers and three additional stadium security personnel, and prohibited her from returning to her seat until she surrendered the “racist” flag. What makes the flag “racist?”  We’ll get to that, but first let’s hear the lady’s side of the story:

On June 1st, BBVA Compass stadium was host to a “friendly” soccer match between Honduras and Israel. Both countries have the same national colors and a similar look to their flags. I am a big fan of futbol and I went eagerly to the match with my alt family from Honduras. 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. The Israeli government has banned Palestinians from hanging their flags outside their home, and arrests the occupants of the home for having it on display on their own land. Every day, in Occupied Palestine, Palestinians are denied entry to neighboring villages, to schools or their family’s home and in many cases to hospitals thanks to Israel’s apartheid state. Yes “apartheid,” that word implies racism, yet my flag implies a racial slur? I asked him several times if I could go back to my seat and he would spread his arms out to create a blockade with his body and his arms so I could not pass. “This is private property,” he said. I told him I paid for a ticket to enter. I could not keep my eyes from gathering tears, but forced myself from letting them fall. “What country are we in again?” I asked. “Just because Israel is playing a match, does that mean you should treat me this way? Because of my Palestinian identity? I am a U.S. Citizen!” I have attended many soccer matches, many of which at the Dynamo stadium, and I have worn a different national jersey every time. Why was I pulled away that day? Who ordered this singling-out and on what grounds? When I asked him if he would feel comfortable with his actions once my treatment became public, he offered a compromise which was that I could keep my flag as long as I did not wave it. The first half was nearly over; they were extended three minutes when I was finally able to return to my seat. I had spent over 15 minutes defending myself from being bullied. I missed the first half because I waved a Palestinian flag at an international match in my hometown. I am proud and honored to be an American, to be able to enjoy the civil liberties that people in many countries are not afforded, but I would have never thought that the influence of an Israeli soccer team on U.S. soil would compromise our most basic liberties.

I asked BBVA Compass Stadium to clarify their flag policy, to explain how a flag could be “racist.”  (I suppose you could say that all flags are “racist,” but still, why single out this one?)  This is what Houston Dynamo [parent corporation] spokesperson Gina Rotolo had to say:

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.

Of course safety comes first, so I asked Ms. Rotolo how exactly was Hammad  “instigating the crowd?” Did she threaten anybody or called for violence? Rotolo replied:

This patron instigated the crowd by waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli supporters.  Given that her actions caused emotions to escalate, the appropriate course of action, in our eyes, was to ask her to please refrain from waving the flag.

So…there you have it.  “This patron instigated the crowd by waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli supporters.” It is now considered “racist” for an American of Palestinian descent to wave her flag at fans of the Israeli soccer team.  The First Amendment can be suspended in a stadium built with taxpayer money because some Israeli soccer fans might be moved to violence by the mere sight of the Palestinian flag.  The good people of the Houston Dynamo Organization think that it is “racist” to merely remind Israeli soccer fans that Palestine exists. I am trying to imagine what the complaint sounded like.  “Excuse me, Mr. Buchanan, that flag over there is really pissing me off-causing emotional distress-and I might have to hurt the lady holding it so you better get four cops to impound that flag or else I’m going to beat her up and it will be all her fault.”


Rotolo did not answer my questions about who complained, nor would she clarify the stadium policy on flags or how this flag violates that policy. She did not answer questions about which other flags are banned. According to Hammad, Honduras fans were shouting “faggots” and “motherfuckers” at Israel fans, and a fight between an Israel fan and a Honduras fan was going on just a few rows behind her, at the very time that she was removed from her seat…yet she was the one singled out for “instigating violence.”  Go figure.   [UPDATE: A previous version of this story implied that the head of security at BBVA Compass Stadium, Nathan Buchanan, reports to the Dynamo Organization. This is incorrect. Mr. Buchanan, in fact, reports the the Dynamo’s parent corporation, the Anschutz Entertainment Group.  My apologies. -HS]

  • Not one of the Sheeple

    She is an American and has every right as an American in America, she should Sue and get a Kosher Lawyer to throw it in their Face.

    And as far as the Palestinian Issue..the only Jews or Israelites in what is now called Israel are the Palestinians !



    and another thing for the Sheeple, you don’t get NAZI from “The National Socialist German Workers’ Party” it comes from AshkeNazi !

  • Firas

    She’s my cousin and I’m proud of her!

  • Matt

    It’s obvious what happened here. Some overly sensitive Americans took the troll bait and called the cops on a woman waiving a Palestinian flag. There are more mature ways to handle non-violent activists, and I would think ignoring them is the best bet, since they probably want to be hassled by authority figures for the sake of attention. Shame on everybody for blowing this nonsense out of proportion. I think making a grandstand about your flag is silly, but calling the cops is sillier.
    I somehow assume that the security gaurds are just mindlessly doing their jobs and have NO idea why they’re kicking the woman out besides the fact that there were complaints. I’d say that maybe some pro-Israeli people need to stop freaking out about small things, but on the flip side, there are BDS activists making stinks about hummus, and want to boycott “culture” of Israel which is pretty racist.

    Honestly I would ignore a Palestinian flag at a football game. A lot of people probably assume it’s a political statement, and it probably would be if the flag was being waved by a typical American college student, but it’s not a political statement if it’s just being held by an actual Palestinian who just really likes the flag, and also football games. So one way or the other, it’s not a big deal. I’d prefer that nobody called the cops on this woman, but I’d also prefer that nobody write an article that implies some sort of grandiose international conspiracy to oppress Palestinians at a sports event.

  • Happy

    Why are people responding here about how this girl is a hero? Or about this being an issue of free speech? Or how Israel is evil?
    The Israeli government wasn’t there at the game… She was just waving her flag and screaming at people that went to a game to watch a game!! In fact, I don’t think she went to the game to see the game… Lol!! That’s pretty pathetic.. She went to a game to scream at the fans of the Israeli team… Who does that??
    And as far as freedom of speech, yes she has the right to drape her flag or wave it… But what if she starts a fight?? I can almost guarantee to all of you that she screened some inflammatory things towards the crowd… At what point do we dicotomise between the safe use of freedom of speech and the abuse, or scapegoat of using freedom of speech to start a fight?

    • Anonymous

      EXCUSE ME? This woman went to the soccer game because she has as much of a right to attend as you do. She payed for her own ticket, and sat with her friends. She shouted “Honduras”, and that is all. I find it pathetic that you would think she went to a game just to shout at other fans enjoying the sport.
      And since when does politics have to influence sports culture? People attend games to have fun and cheer on their teams, not to make people sign petitions and be racist.

      • American

        She is an American and they need to prove other cases they took flags away from anyone else.

        I would bet if Germany was playing Honduras and someone had a Rothschilds 6 Pointed Hexagram Israeli Flag, they would have offered box seats and free beverages

  • Dan

    How clueless and brainwashed are you idiots?

    “Indigenous people” You realize that the arabs were brought there by the british to build the place.

    This dumb woman was trying to start a fight and she should have been kicked out of the stadium. Typical bs propaganda you uneducated people love to digest to make your boring white lives meaningful. Go visit Gaza and see what happens to you. Hamas will happily welcome you with a hug between two rocks

  • Jack Nelson

    I’m Anglo-American, born in Boston, Massachusetts and I have been a U.S. citizen all my life.

    Give me a couple of Palestinian flags next time, and I’ll stand next to that courageous gal and wave ’em for her. Right along with her. This Buthayna Hammad is more of an American than most of us born here could ever hope to be. She seems to know her heritage in her adopted country.

    Our real threat is the huge numbers of human sponges coming across our southern border who’ll continue to press for more tax-and-spend so they can get on the damned dole! And 200+ million zombies who shamefully vote for the same thing.

    This is the United States of America and we have the right to be whatever we are, whatever religion or nationality we are, and to support it as fervently as we wish. Somebody up in the Houston Police Department needs to strip some badges off of some dudes, take their guns and their handcuffs back, and give ’em a taste of what it is to compete in the private sector for a job!! Do Houston a tremendous favor! Moreover, there is NO legal precedent for any kind of a dole in the United States. But having a blue uniform and handcuffs and a badge and a gun is exactly that — an entitlement program. Plus a license for bigotry and all kinds of crap. We’ve got too many unqualified $ 50,000-a-year bullies, bigots and human menaces running around. Maybe they can be trained to construct homes along the Rio Grande?

  • Joe White

    Bring a north korea flag to a South Korean Game.. bring an al queda flag to a USA / France game…stupidity and meant to inflame… this is no different… pals were not playing.. noted, article is full of misleading lies…. in any case, it is the flag of terrorist organizations plo and hammas….

  • Shrijit Koirala

    That is a total discrimination against the Palestinian woman. I’d love to see her file a lawsuit against the people who thought she was racist for bringing her national flag to the game. That was an act of total discrimination. And stopping her was so utterly stupid. All of them who stopped her from getting back in her seat should either be suspended or should be relieved of their duties because that was a direct violation of the first ammendment by the so called ‘law protectors’. If they cannot respect her freedom, probably they don’t deserve to hold their respective position as well.

  • Justin

    IF,SOCIALIST Israel wanted peace, it would FLOOD Concentration Camp GAZA with food and healthy economic activity. Did America launch massive assaults and shoot Black American Women and Children dead in the streets or use Jet Fighters and launch Artillery and Missiles into CIVILIAN areas? NO! Israel does so because Israel wants Ethnic Cleansing, NOT peace. Where is Israel’s Recognition of the PALESTINIAN’S RIGHT to EXIST!? Israel demands the Palestinians “repudiate” this and that …Does Israel REPUDIATE the TORAH???? Israel was White RACIST, APARTHEID, South Africa’s ONLY ally, trading weapons, torture techniques, NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, with them. Today Israel continues Racist APARTHEID with it’s wall. Israel enforces laws that are straight out of Nazi Germany such as Palestinians must have different colored ID cards and license plates, JUST like the yellow stars the Jews WAIL about having to wear. Palestinians have to use separate roads, IDENTICAL to Black OR Whites Only drinking faucets.
    Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of a thriving arms industry. Israel resembles apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents and the aggression against neighbouring states.
    Israel just PRETENDS to care about African Americans (but look how Israel treats Blacks at home), so they can STEAL the taxdollars that SHOULD have been repairing schools and infrastructure and providing police protection in the Cities. Year after year BILLIONS of African American Tax dollars buy more APARTHEID-suppression for the NATIVE PEOPLE of PALESTINE instead of improving life for the Black American People who earned those dollars.
    Thu, 26 Aug 2024 20:15 CDT © Jewish Middlesex
    Ethiopian Jewish student - not allowed to study at new school
    Several months ago, a religious school in the illegal Israeli settlement of Immanuel was criticized for segregating white Jewish students from non-white Jewish students in classes. Originally, the school was fined for this policy of racial segregation, because the school was state funded. Now, the Israeli education ministry has agreed with the white parents’ request to allow the school to continue with its racial discrimination under private funding.
    There is no law preventing racial discrimination by priyvate organizations, even schools, in Israel.
    The Israeli court has interpreted these laws to also apply to illegal West bank settlements, like Immanuel, which are located in areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control. The Palestinian Authority does not allow racial discrimination, but due to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, it has no authority over the area in question. 74 white girls who have been studying in a building next to the school will now be allowed to study in whites-only classrooms that are privately funded, as their parents claim they do not want their girls to study in racially-mixed classrooms.

    Every night is “crystal night” for non jews in Israel. Brutal, racist, expansionist, Jim Crow, apartheid Israel, is far worse than apartheid South Africa ever was. Even the racist South Africans, never used Apache gunships, F16s, and white phosphorous.

    ““The state of Israel provides full equal rights, individual rights, to all its citizens, but it is the nation state of one people only – the Jewish people – and of no other people. And therefore, in order to bolster the status of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, I intend to submit a basic law that will anchor this status.” Benjamin Netenyahu 5/4/2014
    According to the SPLC & ADL an organization is a hate group if it has
    “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people.
    Well …………. Judaism HATES ALL NON-Jews.
    The World should insist Israel live by the standards Israel demands of others. Be judged as Ye judge others. If Israel wants to be recognized, Israel must recognize the EQUALITY and HUMANITY of ALL People. Quit calling NON-Jews SHISKA, GOYIM, GENTILE. If Israel wants Hamas to ‘repudiate’ their charter, Israel must REPUDIATE their manual of hate, the TORAH, which openly proclaims that all ‘gentiles’ should be ‘Hewers of wood, and bearers of water’ …….. for Israel.
    Israel must recognize the Native People’s RIGHT to a Palestinian state.
    Israel REFUSES to sign the Non Proliferation Treay or open It’s NUKES to inspection, Israel should have the exact same sanctions that were put on Iran.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Hi. That’s a lot of text that’s unrelated to the issue at hand, but thanks for visiting our site and reading this article.

  • Tim

    I go to a church where at times dancers will wave Israeli flags to demonstrate there support of Israel; however, they are naive about the unfair treatment of the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis whose actions of apartheid should be condemned instead of supported by Christians. I’m tempted to join the dancers some day and wave a Palestinian flag. Maybe I will get evicted!

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Let’s take care not to conflate the state of Israel with all its people. There are people in Israel who disagree with state policies toward its indigenous Arab population, and we should take care not to paint them with the same broad brush as those believe that the Nazi holocaust gives them license to behave as brutal colonizers.

      (I am not saying you did that, just that I, personally, as the author of this article, would like to make that distinction. The Israeli people are not the same as the Israeli state, and fans of the Israeli soccer team are another thing altogether [likely from the US, in this instance].)

  • Rick Leckrone

    Of course she was making a political point. But there is no equivalency between the Palestinian flag and the Nazi or Confederate flag. One could argue, factually, that there have been many more Palestinians killed by Israel than vice versa. Desperate people do desperate things, and the situation in the occupied territories is desperate. The result of the squeeze will be attacks - suicide bombers and rockets. And those who carry out such attacks are criminals. And wrong. Israel has every reason to exist. And to defend its people. However, if flags are allowed at the stadium representing nations of the world, this flag should be allowed as much as any other. If flags are banned - so be it (if private property). It would have been smart to disallow flags at all international matches at the start of the exhibition season. You simply can’t ban one countries flag and not another. Due to the bond measure that helped to build the stadium she likely has a very good case. She should talk to the ACLU and sue. She would likely win in the federal court system. Lots of good case law here. If the stadium was purely privately funded and run, she might not have a case, but the negative P.R. should have an impact. There are plenty of countries and peoples who have done bad things. We went into a country recently and killed 50,000 people - a country that had done nothing to our citizens. I can imagine an American flag in a lot of stadiums in the world would be a concern for security. But we’re supposed to be different and allow free expression. It’s sad when we don’t live up to our own ideals. As a proud supporter of worldwide the jewish people and the country of Israel, I hope she sues and I hope she wins. And frankly, anyone who would attack someone because of a flag is tool. Confederate flag and nazi flag included. Just walk away from the asshole. Ignore ignorance.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Thank you for your very thoughtful, measured comment.

      I don’t understand the people who are complaining “keep your politics out of sports” at all. Do they know anything about soccer (or the Olympics, for that matter) at all?

  • Catman

    If this had happened in Israel, the IDF goons would of just shot her and claimed that she was a terrorist and CNN and FOX would yap the same.

    Goodnight America, someone turn out the lights.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      For the record, this is purely conjecture. We don’t need to resort to hypotheticals when we have an actual case at hand to discuss.

  • Ibrahim

    What I find most intolerable is the head of Security of BBVA Compass Stadium position that either one respect the sensibilities of pro-Israalis or be removed from the stadium. This is a clear bias. The real offense at the stadium was the presence of the Israeli football team. Here is a collective of athletes that are the poster children for apartheid, racial oppression, and terrorism. If anything, the security force at the stadium should have surrounded Buthayna Hammad in a manner that protected her. The same forces should have announced that it would remove any Israeli supporter who threatened harm to Ms. Hammad.

    As for Ms. Buthayna Hammad, bravo for her courage and strength. Her stance against the Zionist state is a political expression, and one in support of a people who live under occupation. Thank God she had the courage to speak truth to a most unjust occupation and illegal nation-state.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      “If anything, the security force at the stadium should have surrounded Buthayna Hammad in a manner that protected her. The same forces should have announced that it would remove any Israeli supporter who threatened harm to Ms. Hammad.”

      Yes. Exactly.

  • SAS

    Sue `em Buthayna

  • Eduoard Vernier

    All I want to say is, that if American allow this to happen one more time and time again, the first Amendment might be in jeopardy. This should be made a big deal, and I mean big, or all those right The forefathers fought for, will little by little disappeared.

  • Henry Norr

    Thanks and congratulations to Buthayna Hammad, Harbeer Sandhu, and FPH for your courage in exposing this outrageous incident. As an American of Jewish descent, I’m all too familiar with the vicious racism that underlies the kind of treatment Ms. Hammad suffered - the refusal to recognize even the existence of the Palestinian people, much less their rights and legitimate refusal to grovel before those who’ve stolen most of their land. Let’s hope that bringing this to public attention causes more Americans to see how they’ve been deceived and manipulated into supporting the Zionists’ settler-colonial project and the ever-increasing repression required to sustain it.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Thank you for your support.

  • Bill

    the most astounding part of this story: a group of American sports fans was able to identify the flag of a foreign country. well done!

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Ha! Well-played, sir.

      • miralamira


  • Josh Weldhammer

    “You have the right to free speech, as long as you are not dumb enough to actually try it.”
    -“Know your Rights” by The Clash

    This is a sad realization of the true state of civil rights in the USA-not the ephemeral ideals of the Bill of Rights with which we were teased, as schoolchildren. This has less to do with the tension between Israeli and Palestinian ethnic groups-more about the people in charge telling you when, where, and how you are allowed to be a citizen. (wikipedia: Freedom of Speech in the US. Note: Time, Place Manner.)

    This same experience happened to me at the Oakland Athletics stadium in a completely different context of Speech. There were no imminent riots from what I had printed on a sign (approved size and display). Yet, security blocked me from my 1st Amendment rights and promised to appease by ‘checking your calling card’ in at coat check-otherwise, be ejected from the stadium.

    In California, we have greater protections to Freedom of Speech than the rest of the US. A shopping mall cannot claim ‘private property rights’ to harangue your speech. The hallways of a shopping mall are considered a public forum even though they are technically private property. Unfortunately, most of us in the USA CANNOT afford the hundreds of dollars per hour to prosecute the $100 million dollar businesses who have already paid their legal team to destroy your rights before you have much of a chance for legal suit.

    Free Speech requires $10,000 of legal fees for a slap on the wrist to our corporate bullies. Verdict: stop doing that please. Next case.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      I spent seven years in San Francisco but I was unaware of this “shopping mall rule” you mention — that’s pretty rad!

      When I was working on the Nader campaign in 2024, I had police remove me from a public bus “transit center” while gathering signatures to put Nader on the ballot there. The transit center was a completely public space-built, owned, and managed by the city government-and whole buses were wrapped in advertising, yet I was removed for “solicitation” while practicing the fundamentals of democracy.

      Here in Houston, an increasing number of spaces are being built as public/private partnerships, which are managed by private trusts that do not protect rights to speech and assembly. (One example is quasi “public park,” Discovery Green, where people have been ejected by private security just for flyering.)


  • richard braverman

    I applaud Buthayna Hammad and her method of supporting Honduras.

    More significantly, as a proud American and vocal HATER of all things Israel, I feel it is my duty to remind everybody on the planet about the vile history of that racist, US and European Taxpayer Funded, evil, apartheid nightmare without borders.
    Would it be racial slur to wave a US Flag at the Honduras vs Israel match ??
    Well as a proud American, I would like to remind my fellow countrymen about the USS Liberty, GTR-5.
    Did you know that beloved Israel attacked an american ship in broad daylight murdering 34 US Navy Sailors and wounding 171 more.
    Did you know that both the USS Saratoga and USS America launched fighter aircraft to defend their American compatriots only to have President Lyndon Johnson order them back to ship because as Robert Macnamara stated, “he did not want to embarrass an ally”
    Did you know the USS Liberty was attacked for four hours. First by fighter aircraft, then bomber aircraft, then fast attack gunboats, and finally by helicopters loaded with armed marines. Did you know that Israel fired four torpedoes at the USS Liberty with the sole aim of sinking the ship and blaming it on another country.
    Did you know that the crew members of the USS Liberty were ordered to keep the incident quiet and that to this day the US Congress does not recognize their valor under fire.
    So go ahead and raise any flag when Israel is present. Go ahead and scream at the top of your lungs about all things evil carried out by that vicious monster.
    And ignore anyone who will try to take that right away from you.
    Particulalry if they internet trolls funded by American tax dollars to pollute the blogsphere with their lies

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Um, you’re scaring me. Could you tone down the hatred, please? Hatred doesn’t help anybody-least of all, you.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Um, you’re scaring me. Could you tone down the hatred, please? Hatred doesn’t help anybody-least of all, you.

      • American

        Telling the Truth is Hatred and Scares You ?

        Did you even know what he/she is talking about this is my 3rd post, waiting to see how many you delete for telling the Truth !

  • Denis Champagne

    If the event was the other way around namely Israel flag being waved around at Honduras/Palestine …would it have been acted on the same way? What about Ukraine-Russia sporting event or Germany-Israel or Afrikaans Botswana event..?

  • Magdi Khalil


    • Harbeer Sandhu

      I don’t know that “Israhell” did anything here. These are the actions of the manager of security at BBVA Compass Stadium, four Houston Police officers, and most likely at least one fan of the Israeli soccer team.

  • Brandon Whiteford

    This story hurt my heart and boiled my blood. Especially as my prime minister steven harper would have ordered such actions himself given the opportunity. I have had the pleasure of meeting this lovely lady and instantly admired her courage and knowledge. Peacefully dedicated to standing up against oppression through artistic expression and social conversation.
    This is totalitarianism period.

  • Stan Squires

    I am from Vancouver,canada and I supports Buthayna Hammad having a Palestinian flag.She is in the USA not Israel where that sort of thing happens.The BBVA Compass Stadium Security should be condemned for this racist,disgusting act.At the next game everyone should be supplied with a Palestinian flag.Buthayna Hammad should get free entry at the next game for this insult against her.This is reminiscent of the way black people were treated in the usa during the 1950s and 60s.

  • Pingback: Hello Houston, can you hear Buthayna Hammad()

  • Kyle

    What a joke. This woman is full of $#!7. Israel doesn’t have top notch security and biases towards their neighbors because they are worried about flag waving, it is because the world around them promises the destruction of Israel. BBVA is liable for anything that happens at an event, it is private property, therefore it is their call to make. I wonder if Hammad is this concerned about suicide bombers running into public places and clicking the button, or if her concern starts and stops with her own petty actions? GOOD JOB Nathan & Gina.

    • Magdi Khalil

      your the only joke here pal, they don’t get more ignorant than u

  • malefey

    Falafel? Wow, why didn’t you just go with goat turd and really emphasise your implicit racial profiling.
    A flags a flag.
    And an easy target is an easy target.

    Perhaps someone would like to remind people that behaviour is the responsibility of the person conducting themselves in such a manner, not that of an inanimate object. Last time I checked “The flag made me do it” doesn’t wash well with the Police, or in a court of law.
    Sensitivity tact and respect are one thing. They are good things. But responsibility for actions lies with the actor. And here is another scenario where people are potentially able to dodge taking responsibility for their own behaviour and blame it on something else. We teach our children this is unacceptable. Adults should remember it too.

  • Happy

    Let’s not be naive here. This girl brought her flag to start ish up… If the game was between Palestine and another country then by all means wear your flag and wave it around… But waving this flag, with undoubtedly anger and disdain for Israelis, is pathetic… And then to try to sound innocent and shocked at the consequence is annoying… Same would go to an Israeli person waving an Israeli flag in a game played by Palestine against England…especially if you’re waving your flag and screening profanities at the country u hate… Or whatever… It’s a no no… It’s common sense… This is a touchy situation (Israeli/Palestinian conflict)… And a soccer game is not the place to voice your animosity… If you want to go out in the streets and wave the Palestinian flag, then by all means enjoy your orgasm… She was just asking to be pelted by falafels.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      “This girl brought her flag to start ish up…”

      I am not saying that she did, but so what if she did? Whoever complained among the fans of the Israeli team proved themselves to be a sensitive, whiny jerk, unable to handle a person with whom s/he disagrees in a public setting. That is so lame.

      “If the game was between Palestine and another country then by all means wear your flag and wave it around.”

      You are clearly not a fan of international soccer. This is commonplace. It is not the least bit uncommon for soccer fans to bring their own national flag to a match even when their own national team is not playing.

      “especially if you’re waving your flag and screening profanities at the country u hate… Or whatever… It’s a no no… It’s common sense…”

      Do you have evidence that she did this? If you do, please present it. If you don’t, please don’t make baseless accusations in an attempt to score rhetorical points. It is beneath you.

      “a soccer game is not the place to voice your animosity”

      Um, yeah, you are clearly not a soccer fan.

      “If you want to go out in the streets and wave the Palestinian flag, then by all means enjoy your orgasm”

      What does this have to do with an orgasm, creep?

      “She was just asking to be pelted by falafels.”

      Wow! By waving the flag of her country in a public place she was asking to be pelted by falafels. Keep it Klassy, holmes.

  • Halim

    Waving a Palestinian flag in a sports match that doesn’t involve Palestine is sort-of dumb, and borderline rude.

    That being said, I concede that lady’s right to freely express her tasteless displays of rudeness as protected by the first amendment.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      “Waving a Palestinian flag in a sports match that doesn’t involve Palestine is sort-of dumb, and borderline rude.”

      Maybe so, but soccer fans of every nation do exactly this this, so I guess you’re saying that a lot of soccer fans are sort of dumb and borderline rude. That is your opinion, and you are certainly entitled to it.

      “I concede that lady’s right to freely express her tasteless displays of rudeness as protected by the first amendment.”


  • Mohammad U. Aijaz
  • Guest

    People of my country carry their flags to most of the games in their hosts countries, it is a way to say I am from X but I support you guys.

    Then provocation or not, they need to control their emotions if a Palestinian flag evoked some distress in their deep souls, or are you from those people who think if a girl gets raped its her fault — because she showed some skin…

    Racial slur! in my knowledge Palestinians are not accused of racial cleansing. And why should they even be hurt, they got the land and they can’t bear the view of a flag. Oh and for the peace isn’t it one country, so the flag shouldn’t distress them.

  • Nigel Brooks

    Harbeer Sandhu

    You obviously do not have a clue about either the Dynamo or the Stadium. There are two totally separate entities and operate independently of one another.

    Dynamo Stadium LLC is the operating entity for the stadium. It is owned by AEG, Oscar DeLaHoya and Gabriel Brenner. It has its own management and personnel.

    Dynamo Soccer Club LLC is the operating entity for the team. It is also owned by AEG, Oscar DeLaHoya and Gabriel Brenner and has its own management and personnel totally separate from the stadium

    Gina Rotolo is employed by the stadium and is the spokesperson for the stadium not the Dynamo.

    The stadium was built and financed totally by AEG, Brenner and DeLaHoya the construction was somewhere in the region of $60 million. The land had been previously purchased by the City of Houston, and just prior to the construction of the stadium Harris County contributed 1/2 of the cost of the land. Upon completion of the stadium AEG and its partners ceded the stadium to the Houston Harris County Sports Authority with the agreement that they would operate it for 30 years. Houston and Harris County also ceded the land to HHCSA. While technically the stadium and land is public property, it is leased to AEG and partners who operate it as a private facility. They have an absolute right to limit speech in that facility.

    While you might consider that inflammatory (taunting Israeli supporters with a Palestinian flag) is free speech, you might be right. But the stadium and it’s security personnel have every right to take whatever measures they may deem necessary to prevent a breach of the peace. I would hazard a guess that you would have been irate if the young lady had the flag taken from her by Israeli supporters and had been beaten. You would undoubtedly claimed that the “Dynamo” had done nothing to protect her.

    In this case it is clear that the flag was taken into the stadium with the intent to provoke a situation, and the stadium personnel did exactly what they should have done to defuse the situation.

    Do you happen to have any association with the aggrieved party, or did she just reach out?

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Did somebody drop you on your head as a child? In regards to the ownership and management of the stadium, you are splitting hairs and I am not so stupid to be thrown off by a corporate shell game. AEG owns the Dynamo and manages the stadium. They are all the same people. They all sit in the same rooms. You are wasting your time by trying to convince me otherwise.

      These are not the droids you are looking for.

      I fail to see how waving a Palestinian flag is “taunting” fans of the Israeli soccer team, but even if it is, I am not *maybe* right that it is protected speech, I am absolutely right.

      You better believe I would be upset if fans of the Israeli soccer team (or anybody else) had taken Hammad’s flag and beaten her. You better believe I would have blamed security if they had failed to protect her in this hypothetical situation. Fuck yeah, absolutely.

      What security should have done is told whoever complained to calm the fuck down, and if they were so incensed at the sight of a harmless flag, they could take a hike. That’s what security should have said/done.

      Any associations I may or may not have with the aggrieved party have no bearing on this story. I got her side and I got the stadium’s side and I presented them to my readers.

      You are not doing any favors to fans of the Israeli soccer team by continually making them out to be oversensitive babies with potentially violent tendencies. You are not helping your cause.

      • Nigel Brooks

        Thanks for the response, it told me everything I need to know. You are a partisan and have an association with the individual who prompted this whole incident. Perhaps the Free Houston Press needs to have a real journalist with a proven record of impartiality take a look at this afresh.

        In all my years commenting on articles in the Houston Chronicle and other media, I must admit that I’ve never had a writer get so defensive as to attack me, make disparaging commentary about whether or not I suffer from brain injury.

        You obviously do not have a clue about free speech, where it may be exercised, and what limitations may be placed on speech by a private entity in its place of business.

        You fail to understand that the young lady was allowed to take the flag into the stadium, but once she began to utilize it to provoke, the stadium and also the law enforcement officers had every right to tell her to cease and desist. She had no more right to wave a flag in that location than she does in my house or any private property. Had she failed to comply, the stadium could lawfully have ejected her.

        Furthermore I defy you to find anything in my postings which indicate I have any knowledge of how the issue came to the attention of stadium security. There is nothing in your article that explains it either. It might have been a complaint, or it might have been a Security Officer who saw her waving the flag.

        And what is it that you have against fans of the Israeli team or Israelis? Why are you calling them “oversensitive babies with potentially violent tendencies”? Nothing in the article would indicate that any Israeli or fan of the Israeli National Team made a complaint.

        But really the aggrieved lady’s rant tells us all we need to know about her motivation for using the flag as a taunt: “Every day, in Occupied Palestine, Palestinians are denied entry to neighboring villages, to schools or their family’s home and in many cases to hospitals thanks to Israel’s apartheid state.”

        My advise to her is if she wants to exercise her constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression understand that private property doesn’t count. If she really wants to do it just go to 24 Greenway Plaza and demonstrate in front of the Israeli Embassy. Keep your politics out of my stadium - I came there for the football.

        Or are you just upset that the Israeli National Team beat Honduras?

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          “In all my years commenting on articles in the Houston Chronicle and other media, I must admit that I’ve never had a writer get so defensive as to attack me, make disparaging commentary about whether or not I suffer from brain injury.”

          There is a first time for everything. Stop being stupid and I’ll stop calling you stupid, stupid.

          • Nigel Brooks

            You failed to address where you came to the conclusion that it was an Israeli fan who made a complaint against your friend. You throw out all of these allegations yet provide nothing in the narrative to support it.

            You depict Israeil National Team supporters at that game as being “oversensitive babies with potentially violent tendencies” and ” sensitive, whiny jerk, unable to handle a person with whom s/he disagrees in a public setting.”

            The irony is of course that your good self has proven that you are also a sensitive, whiny jerk, unable to handle a person with whom s/he disagrees in a public setting. That much is evidenced by your disparaging attacks and language in your responses to criticism in this article.

            By calling those who disagree with you “stupid, creeps, off their meds” etc you prove that you are unable to intelligently discuss anything and your abusive and defensive responses destroy not only your credibility, but also that of the organization which hosts your writing.

          • Harbeer Sandhu

            I, myself, could not recognize a Palestinian flag unless it was pointed out to me, so I am pretty sure that the people working security for minimum wage at the stadium are likewise unable to recognize that flag.

            I am not stupid; I can’t prove it, but I know, unequivocally, that this action was taken by security as the result of a complaint. Don’t play dumb games with me when you also know that is true.

            FTR, I do not depict Israeli national team fans as whiny babies with violent proclivities, I deconstruct Gina Rotolo’s words, “This patron instigated the crowd by waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli supporters,” to unpack her implication. Hammad did nothing except wave a flag, and some people (not all fans of the Israeli national team, just some of them) were offended by that.

            This is my article on the site where I work. I have engaged with you more than what could be reasonably expected. You laud the Chronicle’s comment section-I have engaged with you much more than a Chronicle writer is likely to engage with commenters on an article s/he wrote.

            You forgot “idiot.” I also called you an idiot, repeatedly. Here is a new one: troll. If you think our newspaper is so dumb, kindly feel free to keep walking, troll. Bye.

        • Hamed

          In your third paragraph you mentioned free speech. do you think free speech should only apply to those whom we agree with. should we start preventing people from wearing t-shirt with a flag on it if we don’t like that country flag.

          where do we draw the line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          I do not think this situation of wearing a Palestinian will be an issue if it was not the Israeli team

  • Andrew

    Thank you for clarifying in the title that the Houston Dynamo organization is not responsible for the employee in question here. One more issue, though: Gino Rotolo is not the Houston Dynamo spokesperson. She is the BBVA Compass Stadium spokesperson.

    Again, thank you for the correction.

  • http://facebook.com/bambad007 Dat Iwo-Boi

    Imagine a Brazil vs Palestine game and Hammad comes to the stadium in a Brazil Jersey, waving an Israeli flag. Would she have even been approached in the first instance?

    • Nigel Brooks

      It seems to me that bringing an Israeli flag anywhere would not be on Hammad’s list of things to do

  • Nigel Brooks

    I would think that anyone with the least amount of sense can see that this young lady was waving the flag with the intent of inflaming the emotions of Israel supporters. It is ludicrous to think that it was anything else. If she truly was supporting the Honduras National Team then why not with a Honduras flag? Furthermore, the stadium is private property and they have every right to limit whatever speech they deem necessary, they can limit all flags if they so desire. In this case they allowed her to bring the flag in, but asked her to cease and desist when she began using it in a manner that could have incited a problem. Would she have the same opinion if the Palestine National Football team came to BBVA Compass to play Iran and I showed up with the Israeli National Flag? I think the answer would be obvious.

    The writer obviously has not done due diligence regarding the operation or the stadium either. The Stadium is a separate entity from the Houston Dynamo Soccer team, and the spokesperson cited in the article is employed by the stadium not the Dynamo. The Houston Dynamo had absolutely nothing to do with the incident. The game was promoted by Soccer United Marketing. Furthermore the stadium was not built with taxpayer money. The stadium was financed by AEG and it’s partners, the only input of “taxpayer” money was the land beneath the stadium that was jointly paid for by the City of Houston and Harris County, when construction was completed, the stadium and land were ceded to the Houston Harris County Sports Authority. The stadium is operated by a private enterprise and as such is not a public facility, you have as much right to the first amendment in BBVA Compass Stadium as you do in my house - ZERO.

    Being a cynic, it is my opinion that this young lady got exactly the publicity she desired.

    I trust that the good folks at Free Press Houston will not delete this comment.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      I cannot speak to her intent, but so what if she was indeed intending to inflame the emotions of Israel supporters? Are they such big babies that they can’t handle a little emotional inflammation at a soccer match? Because that is your implication-that fans of the Israeli soccer team are big babies.

      The stadium is public property.

      You say she used her flag in a way that “could have incited a problem.” Please explain this to me. What is the problem she potentially incited? That some crazed Zionist would hurt somebody? That is the implication in your words.

      Regarding ownership of the stadium and the land beneath it-you are playing games with semantics. I’m not buying your BS-it’s pretty transparent.

      You better believe I’m not going to delete your comment-I am absolutely against censorship and I love that your comment very clearly implies that the Israel fans who complained are a bunch of whiny babies with violent tendencies that must be kept in check through censorship. (Your words, interpreted by me.)

      • Nigel Brooks

        My comment clearly implies that the Israeli fans who complained are a bunch of whiny babies with violent tendencies?

        How in the world did you come to that conclusion?

        I said nothing about Israeli fans complaining - in fact I do not have a clue as to how Stadium Security became aware of her.

        And by the way - I don’t bullshit, I point out the facts. The team has nothing to do with the operation of the stadium. Lets face it the only one playing with semantics here is your goodself. You seek to tie the Major League Soccer Team Houston Dynamo by associating an incident that happened at the stadium to their ownership.

        Why not make your headline “Oscar De La Hoya” hates Palestinians - it makes as much sense.


      • Joanna

        As I suspected, you make it perfectly clear in this statement why you wrote the article in the first place. Much like the woman in the article you wish to make a political statement against Israel and just as she did you tried to mask your intentions (albeit poorly) by making this out to be a story about First Amendment rights. It’s funny to me how you hide behind the First Amendment when it supports your agenda yet you would be up in arms if someone waved an Israel flag at a Palestinian match. I know Jews that don’t agree with Israel politically who would also be offended by that woman’s actions simply because it’s a reminder that they aren’t welcome and are hated. It’s a reminder of how many innocent people have died in all this. Not all Jews are Zionists and not only Zionists would be offended by such. Not only Zionists have died in suicide bombings committed by groups that were later elected to rule Palestine. Her actions were not promoting peace and I’m offended (even though I’m not Israeli) by anyone who condones in your face political statements like this. Your spouting off about Zionists fully shows how much contempt you have in your heart. Have we learned nothing from Ghandi or MLK? I bet you’re also a Holocaust denier too.

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          “you make it perfectly clear in this statement why you wrote the article in the first place”

          Was that ever in doubt? Took you long enough, genius.

          “Much like the woman in the article you wish to make a political statement against Israel”

          Um, no, I made a statement of facts. Israel has nothing to do with this — this has to do with one or more weak-sauce fans of the Israeli soccer team who can’t stand to see a Palestinian flag and have to go tattle to security because their feelings are hurt. Boo hoo.

          “you hide behind the First Amendment when it supports your agenda”

          You don’t know shit about me. I have defended the KKK’s right to hold public events. I live by Voltaire’s adage, “I may not agree with a word you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.” I am a free speech absolutist. You are grasping at straws and fabricating arguments to defend your indefensible, baseless position.

          “you would be up in arms if someone waved an Israel flag at a Palestinian match”

          Pure conjecture. Again, you don’t know shit about me or my history. You could not be more wrong.

          “I know Jews that don’t agree with Israel politically who would also be offended by that woman’s actions simply because it’s a reminder that they aren’t welcome and are hated. It’s a reminder of how many innocent people have died in all this.”

          You are reading meanings into her flag-waving which are not at all explicit or implicit in the action. This hatred that you mention-that is all in your own brain. The innocent, proud waving of a Palestinian flag does nothing of the sort.

          “Not only Zionists have died in suicide bombings committed by groups that were later elected to rule Palestine. Her actions were not promoting peace and I’m offended (even though I’m not Israeli) by anyone who condones in your face political statements like this.”

          Have you had your meds today? You’re hallucinating. You are fabricating your own reality.

          “Have we learned nothing from Ghandi”

          I learned from Ghandi that Hindus matter more than religious minorities in India. Piss off with your Gandhi sainthood-my family is Sikh, Gandhi and his Brahmin followers didn’t do shit for me. You are talking about things you of which you have a very shallow, textbook understanding.

          “I bet you’re also a Holocaust denier too.”

          You are an idiot. Don’t bother leaving any more comments because they will be deleted.

          • http://sonofthemorninglight.tumblr.com Son of the Morning Light

            said: blah blah blah

          • Hamed

            Here we go mr freedom of speech. I thought we are talking about the succor game incident not the Holocaust

            I leave it to the public to judge your understanding to freedom of speech and your ability to delete my comments

          • http://sonofthemorninglight.tumblr.com Son of the Morning Light

            Looks like this journo’s ego is too overinflated and frail to allow comments through uncensored. wonder what he’s gonna be when he grows up. go on, now, delete this or change the words. you probably made up what all the people you interviewed said 😀

    • Optimus Prime

      It’s a flag that represents a people that the current Israeli government represses and wishes wouldn’t exist. This is the United States of America and she’s an American and you can take your gestapo tactics elsewhere.

      The only reason it is inflaming is because it attacks the modicum of conscience left among those who are supporters of racism and apartheid. Good that they get irritated - it shows they still have some humanity left and that there may be hope one day that those wrongs get redressed.

      • Nigel Brooks

        You forgot to add “Wrong Side Of History”

  • M&M

    Did you hear about the Muslim family living in the US who are making every effort they can to integrate themselves into the local community, thereby contributing to worldwide peace and harmony and a greater understanding of their faith? Nope me neither!

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      You should crawl out from whatever rock you’re living under and open your eyes to the real world then.

      And what does this have to do with security and police intimidating a woman because she waved a flag?

    • miralamira

      Wow, when I read comments like this or hear people talk like this, I wonder if people like you have ever met a Muslim in your life? Truly makes me sad. I wish you could meet my father’s family. Maybe you would have a change of heart.

  • Lindie

    HH - your anti-Semitic uproars are heard louder than any expressed in the media. Please find me a pro-Israel journalist - they aren’t working at the NY Times, CNN, NBC, the Free Houston Press. The people you claim to be in charge are hated world-wide. Look at a map and see who is David and who is Goliath in this political scenario.

  • Lindie

    There is a difference between waving a flag in the name of patriotism (to a country, state, team, etc.) or provocation. We live in a violent world that has lead to a “better safe than sorry” mentality that people of all nations have become subjected to - Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, Iranians. Sorry that history has taught me to prefer instigation to tragedy.

  • Jesus Raptor

    One time I went to this futbol game between Israel and Honduras, and I cheered for Honduras waving my Nazi flag.

    You fight the good fight sister. They took mine away too… :/

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      You are stupid. How is a Palestinian flag equal to a Nazi flag?

  • S. Wahid

    I think we need a flag day at the Dynamos and police should arrest anybody suffering from inflammation. Let us keep this country free,

  • Hannah Hashash

    Interesting. I wonder if the tables were turned and an Israeli’s flag was taken away because it upset the Palestinians whose families were killed in the Nakba or who had their homes demolished by the Israeli government. I can hear the screams of Anti- Semite and the media uproar that would follow. What a disgrace to happen on American soil. I think we know who truly runs our country.

    • name

      Go on then, Hannah, why don’t you tell us?

  • daniel

    I like how people are attempting to try to compare a confederate flag to a country’s flag that lives under an apartheid like conditions. Good one. Scumbags.

  • Orange Forever

    I am in a supporter group for the Houston Dynamo - for years - and go every game. I am aware of this situation….and it totally sucks how it was handled - HOWEVER, what pisses me off, is that you claim it is the Houston Dynamo’s fault - you even put that in the title - when it isn’t…it is BBVA. So now you are dragging the Dynamo organization into it and that is WRONG and a complete lie.

    • Harram

      If the Houston Dynamo Organization manages the security at the facility, then they are the one to blame. Often times when other leagues play games at a stadium that has a resident team, the facilities management still runs the game.

      • Trau

        The Dynamo do not control security. BBVA is a separate entity.

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          “Although some council members voiced concerns about the finances of the $95 million public-private project, many who were initially skeptical came to view the deal — in which the stadium will be paid for entirely by Dynamo owners, but jointly owned by the city and Harris County — to be a solid investment.”


  • MS

    Just to be clear, even if Hammad’s purpose was to a stand and make a political statement by wearing a Palestinian flag, that’s protected speech under the First Amendment and she does have at least preliminary grounds for a lawsuit. She should contact a civil rights lawyer immediately, if she hasn’t already.

    • Anonymous

      Freedom of speech doesn’t apply in a private institution like the Houston Dynamo stadium. If she tried to sue she would lose.

      • Harbeer Sandhu

        The stadium is owned by either Harris County or the City of Houston (depending on where you look), i.e. the public.

  • Nicholas

    The stadium was built with some public dollars. A great majority if the cost was paid for by the Dynamo organization. As for racism, no need to respond to something so obvious just for the sake of it.she knew what she was doing and she didn’t even care.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      More than 50% of the cost was paid by the Dynamo Organization?

      You lost me with whatever you were trying to say that follows “As for racism…” English, please!

      • Andrew

        “$35.5 million from the city of Houston and $60 million from the Houston Dynamo”. The City paid for the land and utility upgrades (already needed for anything to take place of the abandoned warehouses). Dynamo paid for the stadium, then handed ownership over to the Houston Sports Authority (City and County), and now pay rent on their own house. I’ve followed this from the very beginning.

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          This is starting to make sense now, thank you.

  • Rose

    On U.S. soil - remarkable. I will gladly hold a Palestinian flag whererever I darn well please on American soil. I was born here. Shame on you Zionists. You are not going to take our souls down with you in your imperialistic dream of world domination. Israel is a terrorist, apartheid state. Glad this woman stood her ground. I hope she sues for harrassment and makes millions of dollars that she can donate to her oppressed homeland.


  • Confused

    Tax dollars? Is there any relevance to that comment?

    I’m going to bring a confederate flag to a grambling state vs UH game because I love my home state of Mississippi and see how you write that story up. I’m going to jump up and down and wave it in everyone’s face. If they get upset, it’s their fault.

    The stadium made a business decision. Not a political.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      The stadium was built with public money — that makes it a free speech (i.e. political) issue.

      • Andrew

        Are you purposefully suppressing my comments? You are approving comments that are younger than mine…

      • confused

        Correction… you said tax dollars. None of your tax dollars were used for the construction of this stadium. You’re assuming.

        Want to come wave a confederate flag with me at the the Grambling game with me? Let’s prove a point that US is bad! So bad! We can post on facebook after!

        Is your next article in support of Donald Sterling?

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          I am glad this comment makes sense in your mind.

  • Joanna

    I’m not defending Israel here nor am I saying the stadium didn’t overreact to Hammad’s actions, but even if her intentions were innocent, I am failing to sympathize with her in expressing shock and outrage that anyone could find her actions to be racist. If this would have been a match between let’s say Norway and Kenya and a white person from the South showed up in Norway gear waving a Confederate flag around and the stadium asked them to stop, I hardly think there would be an article talking about how unfair it was because that person didn’t mean it in a racist context. Instead there might be an article praising the stadium for taking an active stand against racism. There really is no difference between the two in my opinion. Just because you don’t support the actions of Israel towards Palestinians doesn’t make this any less racist, whether it was intentional or not. China commits tons of atrocities towards Tibet but I’m not about to think it’s okay for me to blatantly offend a Chinese person. As long as we keep thinking that it’s okay to express disdain towards one group for political actions that many of it’s citizens don’t support, how can we ever expect peace to be possible?

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Racism = Prejudice + Power

      In the absence of power, it’s toothless “prejudice.” I don’t get your analogy.

      • Joanna

        I don’t get how you think you have to have “power” to be a racist. Racism is harboring hatred for another group simply because of their race. Prejudice is simply preferring one thing over another. But I’m sure that you also probably think people of color are incapable of being racists.

        By the way, is this an editorial or a feature, because if it’s a feature, you should reconsider your journalistic integrity. Features aren’t meant to have such strong bias.

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          Racism is not an attitude — racism is an attitude with the backing of institutional power. You are confusing “prejudice” with “racism.”

          • Joanna

            So by that logic the people in Jasper, Texas that horrifically murdered James Byrd weren’t racists because they weren’t backed by an institutional power? I don’t know what college professor taught you this skewed definition but you should really try getting your money back for that class.

          • Harbeer Sandhu

            You haven’t been to Jasper, met its police, or been in the courts there, have you?

            This is from this year: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/02/10/1276596/-Black-Man-in-Jasper-Texas-Found-With-Cut-Throat-And-Missing-Ear-Ruled-Accidental-Overdose

            There is plenty of institutional power backing white supremacy in Jasper.

    • DCLee

      Well said Joanna!

      • Harbeer Sandhu

        Yes, Joanna, way to to equate the Palestinian flag with the Confederate flag. Makes a lot of sense.

        • Anonymous

          This was a match of Honduras vs Israel. Not Honduras vs Palestine. She brought the flag specifically to provoke Israelis or Israel supporters who might have been there supporting their team.

          Unless she carries a PLO flag around with her all the time, this “expressing my Palestinian identity” excuse stinks of dishonesty. She was there to make a political statement, just own it and stop playing the victim.

          • Harbeer Sandhu

            You are clearly not a soccer fan. If you were, you would know that fans bring their national flags regardless of whether their national team is playing in that particular match or not.

            You are also bad at reading comprehension because that is covered in the first paragraph.

            Nice try, though.

  • Andrew


    Your headline and the implication of the Houston Dynamo in this event is incorrect and I hope that, as a journalist, you will have the integrity to fix and issue a retraction.

    The stadium security is not part of the Houston Dynamo organization. It is part of the BBVA Compass Stadium staff, which is managed by AEG. The Dynamo did not hold this international match. AEG/BBVA Compass Stadium did.

    The “Dynamo spokesperson”, Gina Rotolo, does not work for the Dynamo. She works for BBVA Compass Stadium/AEG… which is why her profile is on the BBVA Compass Stadium website and not the Houston Dynamo website.

    While I am in total agreement that this issue has nothing to do with “race”, but more of a political protest… and one that was intended to cause just this type of reaction… you are throwing the wrong organization under the bus. The Houston Dynamo are a great credit to this city with their charity work. Their players are tremendous assets to the community. Their games are the best sports/stadium experience in the city. If you want to blame an organization, you can blame the BBVA Compass Stadium staff. If this event was held at Reliant Stadium/NRG Stadium, your article would be tantamount to blaming the Houston Texans organization, when the stadium is not managed by the Texans.

    Please take a moment to check your journalistic integrity and correct your article.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      Thank you for your input. From my understanding, the Dynamo organization co-owns the stadium (with Harris County) and they are responsible for managing the facility.

      Trying to parse this information is next to impossible. The Harris County Appraisal District says that the stadium is owned by The City of Houston. Wikipedia says the stadium is owned by Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group and that AEG owns the Dynamo. The Houston Chronicle says the stadium was built with major funding from the Dynamo.

      So you know what this adds up to? A shell game. A bunch of smokescreens. I refuse to believe for one moment that managers from all these various corporate entities (Dynamo, BBVA Compass Stadium, AEG)

      You are trying to make an extremely petty, insignificant point — they are all the same people and even if they’re not, they are sitting in the same room.

      • Andrew

        It is very confusing as to “who owns the stadium” because the City owns the earth under it, the Sports Authority (Harris County) own the stadium, and the Dynamo franchise (AEG/Golden Boy Productions/Brenner Group) paid for the construction. As it stands right now, the stadium’s operations is managed by AEG.

        The way you have your article titled suggests the Dynamo organization is in control of this security guard when, in fact (emphasis on FACT), they are not. This person is on security for Dynamo matches, concerts, TSU football games, and every other event hosted at BBVA Compass Stadium.

        Your behavior in the comments section here, on Twitter (in reply to me), and in your article is puzzling. Why not just change the title to say “BBVA Compass Stadium organization”? If there is no difference in the entities in your mind, then why does it matter?

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          OK, I am starting to understand our sticking point on this issue. AEG owns the Dynamo and AEG manages the stadium, correct?

          • Andrew

            50%-ish correct. The Houston Dynamo are 50% owned by AEG, 25% by Golden Boy Productions, and 25% by Gabriel Brenner’s group.

      • Andrew

        Also, how is my point “petty”? You’re alleging some very powerful, awful things in your article. You should take care in where the finger should be pointed. You have a duty as a journalist, if indeed you are one, to be accurate, especially when it comes to issues of race, violence, and politics.

  • David Neunuebel

    Can’t wait to wear my Palestinian flag.

    eff ’em

  • dragnet53

    This infuriates me when I see stuff like this happen. So when I see an Israeli flag during an event can I call security and tell them to take it away? Nope because they are white skinned.

  • Andrew Richards

    She “instigated” the crowd. So…there was no crowd, until this woman started a crowd??

  • Hiam T Odds

    Flags should either be banned or allowed. Even painting of flags on faces should be considered as flags and should be treated in the same way.

    I have seen flags flaunted at all sorts of games…even at Wimbledon and I have never heard such comments or objections.

    If the Israelis are so touchy that the rules should be changed wherever they play, they should not participate in international games. Simple as that!

  • mark matsusaki

    What does the all cap ‘your tax dollars at work’ have to do with the situation?

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      The stadium is built with public money and police are paid with public money (even if they were working as private security, being paid by the stadium, at that moment, the authority behind the uniforms and badges is bought with your money).

      • Andrew

        Wow… you have no clue what you’re talking about, Harbeer. The stadium was NOT built with public money. It was built with AEG’s money. The property the stadium sits on was purchased by a City of Houston/Harris County joint project and improvements (streets/drainage) were performed by those entities, but the actual stadium was built and paid for by the owners of the Dynamo, AEG.

        A simple wikipedia lookup would have revealed this to you.

        “even if they were working as private security, being paid by the stadium, at that moment, the authority behind the uniforms and badges is bought with your money)”

        You could not be more incorrect. The security staff is part of the BBVA Compass Stadium staff, which is a division of AEG. You are throwing all sorts of people under the bus, but they are innocent bystanders. It’s ok to be outraged by the actions taken by the stadium staff, but what you’re doing here is having a hissy fit and playing fast-and-loose with the facts.

      • mark matsusaki

        From : http://www.chron.com/sports/dynamo/article/BBVA-Compass-increases-its-role-with-Dynamo-s-new-2403673.html

        “I think the amazing thing is not that they financed it,” said Tim Leiweke, the president of the Dynamo and co-owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group. “It’s not that they’re putting their name on it, but they’re the architects of how we ultimately figured out a way to pay for this without the taxpayers having to write a check. That’s where their real strength was.”

        • Harbeer Sandhu

          According to Wikipedia, the stadium is owned by Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and operated by Anschutz Entertainment Group: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBVA_Compass_Stadium

          According to the Harris County Appraisal District, the stadium is owned by the City of Houston: http://www.hcad.org/records/details.asp?crypt=%94%9A%B0%94%BFg%85%90%81%7Eng%8El%88tXtYW%9E%99%A2%D3%89%95%C2e%7CU%8A%80%86%C0%AB%A8%AD%86%5E&bld=1&tab=2

          You are splitting hairs. OK, maybe it was a bond measure and not taxpayer money that contributed to buying the land and building the stadium. Are you suggesting that taxpayer money does not go into maintaining it, even though the city and/or county owns it? And even if the police officers present were being paid by the stadium at the time of this incident, were they not wearing uniforms that identify them as representatives of the people of Houston?

          What are you trying to achieve? You’re trying to prove that this is private property and therefore subject to the whimsy of a security guard? Stop it. You’re not going to win. HPD officers were used to intimidate a woman waving a flag — why are you so eager to find a loophole to make that OK?

          • Butch

            Dude. Face it. You’re wrong about the stadium funding. You made an assumption, which is true for the vast majority of the stadia in this country, but is not correct in this situation. Accept it.

            As for ejecting the woman? That was wrong. Free speech and whatnot. Was it racist?However, bringing the Palestinian flag in the first place just wasn’t a good idea. Whichever side of the fence you fall on in the debate, it simply wasn’t a good idea to bring something to a large gathering of people that was going to rile up a substantial proportion of those in attendance. And again, the vast majority of people understand that mixing sports and politics is frowned upon.

            And as for this joke of a headline…it would behoove the author to do a little more research. The personnel involved in ejecting this woman are stadium employees and can’t be said to be representative of the “Houston Dynamo organization.” This tripe, however, is what passes for news in general.

          • Andrew

            The HCAD lists the City of Houston because the city owns the actual land. You were implying the STADIUM was built with taxpayer money. It was not. The city paid for the land, which the Dynamo actually pay RENT on, and paid for infrastructure improvements, which were inevitable for anything at all to be developed in the East End.

  • Brian

    Look, it’s stupid to call it “racist”, but let’s not play dumb here. The woman was most likely trying to make an inflammatory political statement by bringing this to the game. If Israel had not been playing, she probably would not have even had it.

    Her actions would be akin to bring a Kashmiri flag to a match to cheer against the Indian national team, or an East Turkestan flag to a match to cheer against China.

    It’s just plain inflammatory, and while a flat-out right to do this on public property, apparently the Dynamo organization made a decision to disallow the political action on their private property for their own reasons. One reason being cited as safety. Understandable, IMO.

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      What is inflammatory about representing her nation? Are you suggesting that merely asserting her nation’s existence is “inflammatory?”

      And is the stadium public or private property? It was built with taxpayer money and is co-ownded by Harris County and the Dynamo Organization.

      • Andrew

        Please, Harbeer, you are spreading factually incorrect information. Have you heard of Google? Have you heard of wikipedia? The Dynamo organization is not the owner of the stadium. The public taxpayers paid for the land and the improvements around the stadium… AEG paid for the actual stadium and manages it.

        If you truly want to call yourself a journalist, you need to issue a correction and retraction.

  • Terry Gosden

    What if the Isralies had objected to the American flag, after all they bombed one of your warships the USS Liberty, and you did absolutely nothing even though they killed American servicemen and shot up survivors in life rafts. It’s not only Palestine that needs saving.

  • Clint M

    I’m not surprised in the slightest. As a Dynamo season ticket holder, I’ve been regularly disappointed by the actions of security members at both Robertson Stadium and the new stadium. They nitpick the dumbest things- like making you pull a small digital camera out of your pocket in the pouring rain with no cover or umbrella to protect it from getting soaked- then they ignore serious complaints- like “fans” coming into a section that they obviously don’t have tickets for, standing up in front of everyone (but not at their seats) blocking the view, and getting verbally belligerent with fans asking them to sit down.

  • Common Sense Man

    This has nothing to do with the Houston Dynamo. The interactions are with BBVA Compass Staff/Security.

    And no you don’t have free speech on public property, and how could you not see that this would be potentially inflammatory?

    • Harbeer Sandhu

      BBVA Compass Stadium is co-owned by Harris County and the Dynamo Organization. This has everything to do with the Houston Dynamo.

      The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees free speech on public property. “Potentially inflammatory” is not illegal, but curtailing free speech on public property is illegal.

      • Andrew

        Are you implying that if a similar event had happened at a concert or at the upcoming Rugby match at BBVA Compass Stadium that the Houston Dynamo would be responsible, too?

  • Kurt G.

    I would agree that waving the flag is a political statement, and that people’s reactions to that flag will inherently be informed by their views on the Israel/Palestine conflict — there are no disinterested parties here. But the “cause” that the stadium security reacted to wasn’t anything about Israel, but just that Palestine exists as a nation. That this is considered a rude or confrontational stance to make anywhere, much less the United States, seems insane to me.

  • KGC

    Sue! A section 1983 civil rights claim, violations of civil rights under color of law. Bbva and HPD. You can burn an American flag in this country so you should surely be able to hold a Palestinian flag. Sue, sue, sue! You can win, get paid, and make them out for the unAmerican fascists they are.

  • Frances Helfand

    I agree, if the situation of this story at the stadium happened as described, that Hammad was singled out unfairly and, at least in the beginning of the incident, was bullied.
    That being said, for some people national flags carry a great deal of intense emotion (the US flag is case in point) and the ongoing Israeli/ Palestinean conflict also carries with it emotional (and sometimes violent) reactions. Hammad took a stand and, planned or not, she succeeded in sharing her point of view. That point of view is now being shared on Facebook and other social media. Again planned or not, Hammad’s feelings about the Israeli/Palestinean conflict are getting her cause a lot more mileage than simply displaying a flag at a soccer game.