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State Says Wrentham Flag Ban 'Was A Mistake'

WRENTHAM (CBS) – A letter that banned the display of American flags outside homes in a public housing complex was a mistake, the state said Thursday.

Residents at the Garden Lane Housing Complex were notified of the controversial policy in a letter from the Wrentham Housing Authority that was taped to their doors Wednesday.

The letter said:

"Due to a tenant's repeated complaints reported to the Department of Housing and Community Development over the July 4th holiday, Wrentham Housing Authority has been informed that the public display of the American Flag in common areas is not permitted. As a result, all American flag displays 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."

That infuriated residents who complained to the Housing Authority.

But no one there took responsibility for sending the letter.

Housing Authority executive director Nancy Siegel told WBZ-TV a resident complained to the state Department of Housing and Community Development in Boston and she followed orders by sending the letter.

But, she admitted, there was not an excess of American flags at the complex and that she hadn't heard about the issue until Tuesday morning.

Department of Housing and Community Development spokesman Jason Lefferts issued this statement late Thursday morning:

"We were not aware of this decision when it was made, and it was a mistake that is being corrected immediately. Department of Housing and Community Development 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."

It's still not clear yet who gave the order to send the letter.

Two flags were hanging outside apartments at the complex Thursday morning. Residents say it was the same back on the 4th of July, the day cited by the unnamed tenant who filed the complaints.

Some residents were so upset they appealed directly to Senator Scott Brown, who lives near the complex.

Brown then issued this statement:

"Our flag stands for freedom, and is a symbol of the sacrifice made by our servicemen and women to protect the liberties we enjoy today. Flying the American flag should never be controversial, and no citizen should ever be prevented from doing so. I was deeply disturbed to learn of this misguided decision, and I call on the responsible authorities to undo this regulation immediately."

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