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Mass. housing complex American-flag ban reversed after a day

A ban on the display of American flags by residents of a Massachusetts town’s housing authority was reversed Thursday.

Residents of a public housing complex in Wrentham, Mass., were outraged Wednesday when Housing Authority officials taped a letter to their doors, banning the display of U.S. flags outside their homes.

A day later, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development issued a statement calling the notice a mistake.

“We were not aware of this decision when it was made, and it was a mistake that is being corrected immediately,” department spokesman Jason Lefferts said. “The agency’s policy for local housing authorities includes not allowing displays of private materials in public areas. This does not extend to respectful and safe displays of the American flag.”

Wrentham Housing Authority Executive Director Nancy Siegel said she was told by the department to distribute the letter to residents after multiple complaints from one tenant over the Fourth of July Holiday.

“As a result,” the letter read, “all American flags must be restricted to the interior of your apartment. Flags may be visible through the apartment windows but may not be displayed on the exterior of the buildings or on the ground around the buildings.”

Barbara Marshall, 82, whose brother took part in the D-Day invasion of France, was among the residents angered by the ban.

“All of my family is so indebted to the veterans, to that flag,” she told The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro.

She said she kept the flag flying outside of her home even after receiving the letter.

The ban even drew the ire of Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who lives in Wrentham.

In a statement, Brown said he was “deeply disturbed” by the housing authority’s “misguided decision.”

“Flying the American flag should never be controversial, and no citizen should ever be prevented from doing so,” he said. 

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