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General Laws

Section 5. Whoever publicly burns or otherwise mutilates, tramples upon, defaces or treats contemptuously the flag of the United States or of Massachusetts, whether such flag is public or private property, or whoever displays such flag or any representation thereof upon which are words, figures, advertisements or designs, or whoever causes or permits such flag to be used in a parade as a receptacle for depositing or collecting money or any other article or thing, or whoever exposes to public view, manufactures, sells, exposes for sale, gives away or has in his possession for sale or to give away or for use for any purpose, any article or substance, being an article of merchandise or a receptacle of merchandise or articles upon which is attached, through a wrapping or otherwise, engraved or printed in any manner, a representation of the United States flag, or whoever uses any representation of the arms or the great seal of the commonwealth for any advertising or commercial purpose, shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Words, figures, advertisements or designs attached to, or directly or indirectly connected with, such flag or any representation thereof in such manner that such flag or its representation is used to attract attention to or advertise such words, figures, advertisements or designs, shall for the purposes of this section be deemed to be upon such flag. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there may be attached to the staff bearing a flag of the United States or of Massachusetts belonging to an organization of veterans of the Civil War, to a camp of the United Spanish War Veterans, to a post or department of The American Legion, or to a post or department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, or to a post or department of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, or to a camp or department of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, or to a barracks or department of the Veterans of World War I of the U. S. A., or belonging to or used in the service of the United States or the commonwealth, a streamer having inscribed thereon the names of battles and the name and number of the organization to which such flag belongs. For the purposes of this section, a flag shall be deemed to continue to belong to any organization of veterans hereinbefore specified, although such organization has ceased to exist, during such time as it remains in the lawful ownership or custody of any other of the aforesaid organizations or of the commonwealth or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any patriotic or historical society incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth or determined by the adjutant general to be a proper custodian thereof. For the purposes of this section the term “flag of the United States” shall mean any flag which has been designated by Act or Resolution of the Congress of the United States as the national emblem, whether or not such designation is currently in force.

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