Monument to 'Star-Spangled Banner' writer Francis Scott Key defaced

This is an undated drawing of Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer and poet who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812. (AP File Photo)

The words "Racist Anthem" have been found painted on a monument to Francis Scott Key on the anniversary of the battle that inspired him to write the "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday the words were written at the base of the monument in the city's downtown. It also appeared to be splashed with red and black paint. Police said they plan to prosecute whoever did it.

Key, who owned slaves, was inspired to write his verses by the Battle of Fort McHenry on Sept. 13-14, 1814 during the War of 1812.

The seldom-sung third verse says: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave." Many believe it refers to slaves who fought for the British.

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