The Mass. Dept. of Housing and Community Development said it was moving to rectify what it call a “mistake” after residents of a public housing complex to were ordered remove their American flags.
The Wrentham Housing Authority taped letters to apartment doors on Wednesday informing them that the public display of American flags in common areas would no longer be allowed.
The ban was implemented because another resident said they did not like the American flag being located in a common area of the grounds.
“Wrentham Housing Authority has been informed that the public display of the American flag in common areas is not permitted,” the letter read. “As a result, all American flag displays must be restricted to the interior of your apartment.”
However, the Dept. of Housing and Community Development told Fox News Radio they had no knowledge of the controversy – and backtracked after word of the ban leaked to local media.
“We were not aware of this decision when it was made, and it was a mistake that is being corrected immediately,” said Jason Lefferts, a spokesman for the state agency.
Lefferts told Fox News Radio that state policy does not allow private material to be displayed in public areas. However, there is an exception for American flags.
The ban, he said, “does not extend to respectful and safe displays of the American flag.”
U.S. Senator Scott Brown, who is from Wrentham, issued a blistering statement saying he was “deeply disturbed to learn of this misguided decision.”
“Our flag stands for freedom, and is a symbol of sacrifice made by our servicemen and women to protect the liberties we enjoy today,” Brown said. “Flying the American flag should never be controversial and no citizen should ever been prevented from doing so.”
“I’m absolutely livid,” said Jeff Katz, the morning talk show host at Boston’s Talk 1200.“Why should we allow one loud mouth in the public housing project to say there will be no display of American flags? We ought to be able to stand up and fight back.”
Katz said the station’s telephone lines were jammed with callers outraged over the story.
“This is a huge issue,” he said. “They are ready to mobilize. We’re trying to get American flags into the hands of everyone at that apartment complex that wants them –encouraging them to stand up and say God bless America.”
The Sun Chronicle newspaper reported that at least one resident has decided to defy state orders.
“I’ve always had a flag,” said 82-year-old Barbara Marshall. “I’m very upset.”
Marshall, whose brother participated in the D-Day invasion during World War Two, told the newspaper that she will not remove her flag.
“If somebody wants to come and take the flag down, I’ll take pictures,” she said.
The state agency did not explain how or when they would lift the ban — nor did they say if residents like Marshall would receive an apology.