When 16-year-old Lucas Cantú arrived at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia for the Super Bowl, he was draped in the Mexican flag. The teen just wanted to represent the Latin American country, but almost immediately, he and his group of eight ran into trouble. Security stopped them and told them they couldn’t enter the stadium with the flag.
Lucas’ dad, Gabriel Cantú, said that a white woman, likely between 50 and 65 years old, told them they’d have to get rid of the flag in order to enter the stadium. “The woman told us that the flag couldn’t go through,” he told El Universal. “That there was nowhere to leave it. We couldn’t leave it there and we’d have to throw it in the garbage can.”
The group was alarmed at the request, and the woman then called on other security guards to come assess the situation. She reportedly said that the group had tried to sneak the flag inside.
“She tried to intimidate us by bringing more security guards,” he added. “We explained that we had nowhere to store the flag. She said that she didn’t care about that and that the rules of the stadium state that you can’t have flags or banners of other countries. I asked where it said that, and she didn’t know how to respond.”
The matter was eventually resolved, however. One of the extra security guards who came to chat with the group was a Latina woman who explained that if the flag didn’t extend past someone’s wingspan, it was allowed in the stadium. When Lucas was able to show that the flag wasn’t too big, they let him take the flag to the stands.
“That was discrimination,” Gabriel added. “I can’t describe it in any other way. I also can’t believe that they would suggest throwing the flag away in the trash.”
Universal further reported that two other people – one carrying a Croatian flag and one an England flag – didn’t have any trouble making their way into the stadium.