WRENTHAM, Mass. — The state on Thursday stepped in to reverse a decision by a Massachusetts town's housing authority that barred residents from flying U.S. flags outside their homes.

"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 spokesman Jason Lefferts said in a statement. "(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."

The Wrentham Housing Authority notified residents of the policy through a letter taped to their doors Wednesday.

The unsigned letter says the move was made after a tenant made "repeated" complaints to the state housing department over the Fourth of July holiday.

"Wrentham Housing Authority has been informed that the public display of the American Flag in common areas is not permitted," the letter read.

The unsigned letter left many tenants angry, including Barbara Marshall, 82, whose brother took part in the D-Day invasion of France.

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

She vowed to keep the U.S. flag flying outside her home even after the letter was delivered. She was so upset about the letter she had to lie down, she said.

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

Brown said in a statement he was "deeply disturbed" to learn of the "misguided decision."

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


Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle, http://www.thesunchronicle.com

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