BALTIMORE, MD (WUSA9) - Vandals have gone after a statue to a historic figure from long before the Confederacy.
Someone attacked a memorial in Baltimore to Francis Scott Key, author of the poem about the War of 1812, which was set to music and became our National Anthem.
Exactly 203 years after Francis Scott Key penned the poem about the night he survived the British bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore woke to red paint splattered across the statue of Key in his truce boat. The words "slave owner" and "racist anthem" are sprayed on the memorial.
RELATED: Lincoln Memorial vandalized with red graffiti
“This is ridiculous,” said Baltimorean Antione Gaines, the fury rising in his voice.
Just last month, Baltimore removed four Confederate monuments. But the mayor says she has no plans to remove the Key Memorial -- nor any way to protect it.
“People defacing monuments in this city,” said Kevin Weinberger, who noticed the paint while driving by. “It's disgraceful, appalling.”
The vandals wrote nothing about the controversy over former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who still doesn't have a team after taking a knee last year during the playing of the National Anthem. But in the debate over the NFL protests, critics pointed the third verse in the anthem. "No refuge could save, Hireling or slave, From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave."
Historians say the third verse refers to the British practice in the War of 1812 of recruiting slaves to take up arms against the U.S. with promises of freedom.
“I don't think we use it when we sing, so somebody decided to take it out,” said Henri Daniels, who lives near the Key Memorial in the Bolton Hill neighborhood and is furious about the vandalism.
Key did own 175 slaves. But Gaines says the vandal who attacked the statue is only making things worse.
“All we're doing is hurting each other, destroying our own community, our own neighborhood," he said.
Baltimore's Commission on Historic Art Preservation is still trying to figure out how to clean up the statue.
It was built in 1911 and restored in 1999.
© 2018 WUSA-TV