A forklift has damaged a brick walkway at the iconic national monument Fort McHenry, where Republicans were building a stage for Vice President Mike Pence’s appearance for the party’s national convention, a National Park Service spokeswoman said Monday.
A national parks advocacy group expressed outrage at the damage, saying stewardship of national monuments should be nonpartisan and professional.
National Park Service spokeswoman Stephanie Roulett confirmed the damage in an email Monday. She said the damaged bricks dated from a 1930s restoration at the fort but gave no details.
Built in 1798, Fort McHenry and the Americans in it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy in the War of 1812. The scene inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner.” The U.S. designates the fort as a national monument and historic shrine.
This month, the Maryland Republican Party asked for and got a special-use permit from the National Park Service to use the fort as a backdrop for Pence’s political address Wednesday during the Republican National Convention. The park service provided The Associated Press a copy of the permit, which calls the event a political rally and said crews would be building a stage inside the fort, among other work.
The NPS carried out an initial assessment of the damage and “will conduct a full evaluation following the conclusion of the permitted event,” Roulett said.
The National Park Service’s website says the fort is closed to the public for the coronavirus pandemic. Its grounds are open, however.
The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks disclosed reports of damage at the fort from the event in a letter it sent acting park service head Margaret Everson and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Monday.