A group of vandals defaced a Baltimore monument of Francis Scott Key early Wednesday morning, scrawling “racist anthem” on the statue.
Police came to the scene around 6:30 a.m. EST Wednesday after reports of the statue being vandalized, reports The Baltimore Sun. Police arrived to find the statue covered with red paint and the words “racist anthem” and “slave owner” written on it.
Vandals also spray painted “No refuge could save, Hireling or slave/ From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave,” verses from Key’s poem “The Star Spangled Banner,” in front of the statue.
Police are looking into the matter and plan on charging those who vandalized the statue, a Baltimore police spokesperson told the media.
“We don’t know who did this at this point in time … I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a crime to vandalize property and the people responsible, if captured, will be prosecuted. There’s a way to go about doing this that Baltimore, of any place, has seen how to go about doing that,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said.
The mayor, Catherine Pugh, said the city has no plans to take down the statute. Recently, city workers removed four Confederate statues from the city in the dead of night after the Charlottesville, Va., riots.
“We understand the freedom of expression, but there certainly has to be a more constructive and productive way to have a conversation about history,” Anthony McCarthy, a spokesperson for the mayor, said.
Activists have denounced “The Star Spangled Banner” as racist; former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem during football games to protest what he believes is a system of oppression in America.
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