Baltimore’s mayor has made a wise decision. Finally.
Despite vandalism and howls of protestation from leftists, Catherine Pugh said she has no plans to have the statue of Francis Scott Key removed from Bolton Hill in the city.
The statue was vandalized before dawn Wednesday and the city is just now trying to figure out what it will take to clean it up.
It was exactly 203 years after the lawyer from Maryland wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem.
Residents awoke to blood-colored paint splattered all over the monument and the words “Racist Anthem” scrawled on it.
The third stanza of Key’s poem – which isn’t sung – includes a reference to the British encouraging American slaves to join the fight against their masters. It’s a tiny line in a stanza that nobody reads or sings. Here it is:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
City officials will clean up the statue, but said they really know of no way to prevent future vandalism, short of catching the dirtbags responsible. There are no suspects or surveillance footage of the attack.
“Ultimately, it’s going to come down to them being caught and charged,” police spokesman T.J. Smith told The Baltimore Sun.
“We can’t ensure it’s not going to happen again,” Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. He also said, however, that the mayor does not plan to take it down and wants to see it restored.
Of the vandalism, McCarthy said, “We understand the freedom of expression, but there certainly has to be a more constructive and productive way to have a conversation about history.”
Some residents were pissed. Others thought this was just awesome.
Back in 1999, the city spent $125,000 to restore the monument after years of deterioration. An art conservator hauled away tons of trash and rubble; cleaned and applied a protective wax coating over the bronze figures and plaques; cleaned, repaired, and removed stains from white marble; cleaned and repaired the granite wall surrounding the fountain at its base; and applied gold leaf to two plaques, The Sun reported.
Holcomb said he understood the vandals’ intent, but he called the incident “disheartening.”
“It’s so counterproductive, what they’re doing,” he said. “History’s messy. It’s nuanced. It’s something to talk about, not something to erase.”
The anthem’s Baltimore roots are a strong source of pride for the city. Schools and part of the Beltway Bridge are named after Key. There was a “Star-Spangled Spectacular” bicentennial celebration of the battle and the anthem in 2014.
The vandalism comes weeks after a monument to Christopher Columbus was damaged in Northeast Baltimore. That incident occurred a week after the city removed three monuments honoring Confederate figures and one honoring former U.S. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
Pugh ordered those statues removed during the night, following a deadly white supremacist rally against the planned removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville.
What’s next? Mount Rushmore? Where does the desecration of our American heroes stop?