Mayor Catherine Pugh says she has no plans to remove the Francis Scott Key monument in Bolton Hill that was vandalized before dawn Wednesday and has directed art preservation experts to determine the cost of cleaning it.
Exactly 203 years after the Maryland attorney wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem, the city awoke to find the words “Racist Anthem” spray-painted on the Eutaw Place monument and red paint splashed on it.
The third stanza of Key’s poem includes a reference accusing the British of encouraging American slaves to join the fight against their masters.
City officials said they know of no way to prevent future vandalism, short of catching the person or people responsible. Police don’t have any suspects or surveillance footage of the incident.
“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to them being caught and charged,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said.
Officers make periodic checks on city property during their patrols, but the department does not plan to place the Key monument under constant police protection, Smith said.
“We can’t ensure it’s not going to happen again,” Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. He said, however, the mayor does not plan to take it down and wants to see it restored.