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'Racist Anthem' spray painted on 106-year-old Francis Scott Key statue in Baltimore

Colin Campbell and Sean Welsh, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- A statue to Francis Scott Key, the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, was defaced overnight in downtown Baltimore, with someone painting "Racist Anthem" on the side of the Bolton Hill monument.

Baltimore Police received a report of the vandalism at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. They are investigating, but have no suspects.

The monument -- primarily concrete and marble, but with gold in the base and a gold figure atop -- had been tagged with black lettering, but also with what appeared to be splashes of red and black paint.

On the ground in the area around the monument, words from the third stanza of Key's poem were painted in black:

No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,

From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave

The vandalism comes weeks after a monument to Christopher Columbus was damaged in northeast Baltimore. That incident occurred a week after the city removed four monuments honoring Confederate-era figures.

Key, an attorney, was being held captive aboard a British ship off Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, when he penned "The Star Spangled Banner," which would go on to become the national anthem.

The monument at Eutaw Place was dedicated in 1911.

(The Baltimore Sun Tim Prudente contributed to this story.)

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