Baltimore Heritage

Francis Scott Key Monument splashed with red paint and spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem”

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

This morning, we learned that the Francis Scott Key Monument at Eutaw Place was splashed with red paint over night and the stone pedestal at the center of the monument was spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem.” The monument by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié shows Key standing in a marble rowboat next to a seated bronze sailor. The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1911, and restored in 1999 after a major fundraising campaign by local residents. You can see more photographs of the Key Monument and the graffiti in our Flickr album.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The spray painted graffiti on the east side of the stone curb surrounding the monument fountain included “Blood on his hands,” “Racist Anthem,” “Fuck FSK,” and “Hater U Just Mad.” On the pavement in front of the monument was written “Slave Owner” and one of the lesser-known stanzas that make up Key’s Star-Spangled Banner:

“No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,
From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave”

The words are a reference to the black men who escaped from slavery in Maryland and Virginia to join the British in their fight against the United States government during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key’s legacy as a slave holder was the subject of a 2016 post from Smithsonian Magazine and a 2014 biography. As a member of the Maryland State Colonization Society, Key also promoted the removal of free black people from Maryland to a colony in present-day Liberia.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks was notified about the condition of the monument early this morning and reached out to the Baltimore City Police Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and other city agencies to file a police report and consider next steps. We have also reached out to the Bolton Hill Architectural Review Committee to alert neighbors to the situation and to help monitor the monument. CHAP and city agencies are working to have the paint and graffiti removed by an art conservator as quickly as possible.

Read more about the Key Monument

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.