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Baltimore's monument to the man who wrote the "Star-Spangled Banner" was defaced Tuesday night, with the words "Racist Anthem" scrawled in black.

The phrase was written at the base of the concrete and marble Francis Scott Key monument. Besides the black lettering, the structure was splashed with red and black paint.

On the ground near the monument, words from the third stanza of Key's famous poem were painted in black, according to the Baltimore Sun: "No refuge could save, hireling or slave, from terror of flight, or gloom of grave."

Police are investigating, but they’ve yet to identify any suspects.

Key penned what is now the national anthem while he was held captive by the British during the War of 1812.

The Key incident comes a few weeks after a monument to Christopher Columbus was vandalized in Baltimore and a week after the city removed four monuments honoring Confederate leaders. 

The Baltimore Sun described Key as having a mixed record on race, writing his “actions helped incite a race riot in the District of Columbia" due to Key’s actions as district attorney in the arrest of an abolitionist.

Many historians have not read Key’s “slave” verse as a glorification of slavery, but rather have pointed to numerous alternate interpretations, including one stemming from the British practice of kidnapping sailors and forcing them into duty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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