Woman sues HPD officers, Dynamo stadium for First Amendment violations

Woman claims national flag was called 'racial slur'

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HOUSTON - A lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Palestinian American woman who claims she suffered discrimination and civil rights violations at the hands of Houston police officers and security guards at BBVA Compass Stadium.

According to the lawsuit, Buthayna Hammad displayed her Palestinian flag while attending a Honduras v. Israel soccer match last month with her Honduran friend.

While others in the stadium also displayed flags from different countries, stadium security and Houston police singled out Ms. Hammad for her flag and removed her from her seat, according to the lawsuit.

According to Hammad, security personnel told her that she could not display her flag because it constituted a "racial slur" and an alleged security concern.

"This is textbook national origin discrimination and a blatant violation of the First Amendment," said Amin Alehashem, attorney for Texas Civil Rights Project-Houston.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Hammad said. "Like others in the crowd, I simply displayed my flag."

BBVA Compass Stadium released a statement, acknowledging Hammad was asked to leave her seat to discuss the proper way to display her flag so it would not disturbĀ  other guests. However, any disparagement of the Palestinian flag does not represent the views of stadium management.

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