State Senator James Timilty (D-Walpole), who represents Foxborough, made his frustrations and outrage known to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in a strongly worded letter Thursday after it ordered Wrentham's Housing Authority to ban public display of the American Flag in the common areas of Garden Lane apartments after a single tenant's complaints.
Timilty, in a letter to DHCD Thursday, called the decision "a disgrace to everything the American Flag represents" and "absolutely unacceptable."
Here's a look at Timilty's letter to DHCD in its entirety:
"Dear Undersecretary Gornstein,
It is with great frustration that I write to express my vehement opposition and outrage to the Department of Housing and Community Development's recent order banning the display of American Flags at the Wrentham Housing Authority. As you no doubt are aware, the public display of all American Flags in common areas has been prohibited and restricted to the interior of tenants' apartments.
First and foremost, I maintain that this order is a disgrace to everything that the American Flag represents. The flag has proudly been displayed as a sacred symbol of personal freedoms guaranteed to every American for the past 235 years. It continuously reminds us of these freedoms every day and any attempt of a government agency to prohibit its display on public property is not only unconscionable, it is a violation of the very freedoms it represents.
Secondly, to institute this policy following the Independence Day holiday, a day where all Americans join together in the commemoration of the American Revolution, is absolutely unacceptable. Massachusetts Statesman and American President John Adams once said that the American Independence "ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, form this time forward forever more." The Fourth of July is a national holiday marked by varying degrees of patriotic display and the DHCD would do well to amend its policies to accommodate such demonstrations of celebration.
Most importantly, this order serves as an insult to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and their families who have sacrificed so much in honor of the American Flag. Many of my constituents have expressed their anger to what can only amount to be a horrible mistake and I formally request that the order be rescinded immediately and an apology be issued to the residents of Garden Lane in Wrentham.
Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter. I look forward to a timely resolution to this issue and encourage you to contact me directly should you have any questions.
James E. Timilty
Bristol & Norfolk"
, DHCD later called the order of banning flags in common areas of the Wrentham apartment complex a "mistake" and American flags would be allowed to hang outside. DHCD spokesman Jason Lefferts told WBZ Thursday morning the state agency was "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.”
DHCD's "mistake" went public at approximately 8:12 p.m. Wednesday after a photograph of a letter, allegedly from the Wrentham Housing Authority, appeared on Twitter, which told residents of Garden Lane that any public displays of the American Flag would not be allowed in common areas. According to the letter, the ban is due to the repeated complaints of one tenant during the Fourth of July holiday to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
The text of the letter goes as follows:
"To: All Residents of Garden Lane
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 the 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 building."
U.S. Senator Scott Brown (Republican), who lives in Wrentham, issued the following statement Thursday regarding the banning issue.
"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.”
After the flag ban at Garden Lane was reversed, State Representative Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk), who represents Wrentham, passed out flags residents.
"I’m glad that they’ve admitted their mistake, I don’t think it goes far enough,” Winslow said while handing out flags. “I think that whoever made this decision at the state level is by definition grossly incompetent and we oughta fire that person and replace them with an unemployed veteran who I guarantee you would not make this mistake.”
So Foxborough, we want to know what you think of this issue involving your neighbors in Wrentham ...
Today's question: Was the DHCD's decision to ban public display of American Flags in "common areas" of a Wrentham apartment complex un-American? Vote in our poll and be sure to leave a comment!