A children’s statue dedicated to “The Star-Spangled Banner” which has been sitting in a Baltimore park for 103 years was defaced with a spray-painted slogan calling the nation’s theme a “racist anthem.”
Members of Friends of Patterson Park discovered the vandalism on Tuesday morning. The graffiti had occurred sometime overnight, police said.
The statue, consisting of two children holding a parchment commemorating the national anthem, was also splashed with red paint in addition to the spray-painted slogan.
The statue was made in 1914, and the children of Baltimore donated pennies to fund the monument.
Visitors to the park were disheartened by the attack on the statue.
“The racist thing kind of threw me for a minute. I just thought it was somebody vandalizing the statue in the park, which I was just like, ‘Why?'” park visitor Mark Dillon told WBAL Channel 11.
“It’s sad, it really is. Kids nowadays don’t respect anything. The statues that are located all around here, they actually mean something to a lot of people in this community,” another park-goer said.
“We are working with city officials at Recreation and Parks, Councilman (Zeke) Cohen’s office, the Mayor’s Office to assess the damage right now and make a plan to address it,” Jennifer Robinson, executive director of Friends of Patterson Park, said in a statement. “We want to make sure, due to the historic nature of the statue, that the damage is addressed correctly. We are asking people not to address it on their own. We will be working with the appropriate historic preservation officials to make sure it’s done the right way.”
In a statement, Mayor Catherine Pugh lamented the attack on the statue:
While literally hundreds of Baltimore’s young people were demonstrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s example of service today, marching and making a positive difference in our community, it’s unfortunate that others decided it was more appropriate to vandalize the 103-year-old children’s statue in Patterson Park. We will, of course, determine the best way to restore the statue and hold those who defaced it accountable. In the meantime, this isolated incident should in no way detract from the wonderful spirit of generosity that was so evident throughout our city on this very special day honoring Dr. King’s enduring legacy.
The vandalism is of a piece with recent criticism of the song that has been our official anthem since 1936. Liberals have recently taken to calling the national anthem a “racist song” because of a stanza of the song written in 1814. But the maligned stanza was never included in the version adopted by Congress as the nation’s official song.
That old verse reads, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave. From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”
Liberals insist that the “hireling and slave” reference was a nod to America’s institution of slavery, but few serious historians back that claim.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.