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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Key Bridge mural honoring victims of collapse vandalized overnight Friday

Mural artist Roberto Marquez looks at damage to a mural he is working on to honor the victims of the Key Bridge disaster in Baltimore on Saturday.  (The Baltimore Sun/Baltimore Sun/TNS)
By Tony Roberts Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE – A mural created to honor the victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse was vandalized overnight Friday.

Around 7:30 a.m Saturday, Roberto Marquez, a Texas-based artist and guardian of the mural, found it with large holes cut in multiple canvases.

Marquez told the Baltimore Sun that he left the mural site on Fort Smallwood Road earlier than usual Friday night and found the damage when he returned Saturday morning. Baltimore City Police could not provide a police report for the incident on Saturday.

“I don’t know why they did what they did,” Marquez said. “It makes no sense.”

The mural was created to tell the story of the bridge disaster in bright, abstract imagery, evoking the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. It starts with a scene at America’s southern border, with soldiers violently arresting a traveling migrant. Steel bridge trusses emerge from the melee, and a red truck is visible in a sea of blue.

The next panel has the large face of a weeping woman, holding a human body in her hands. The face of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí symbolizes the cargo ship that caused the disaster. The final panel shows the survivor of the collapse being rescued, as hands reach up to him from beneath the waves.

Marquez began moving the 11-canvas mural into storage on Thursday after two months of sitting outside in the elements along Fort Smallwood Road. He said the damaged panels of the mural were a “continuation” of the original piece.

The mural’s long-term destination isn’t clear, but it garnered interest from the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which has started assembling a collection focused on the history of the bridge.

Although Marquez supports finding the mural a permanent home for public display, he still hopes victims’ families will be able to visit it.

Anay Orduno, a friend of José Mynor López who died on the bridge, said that she visited the memorial site with many of his close family members almost every day as they waited for news that López’s body had been recovered.

City and state officials helped Marquez find a storage location next door to the museum, an old Baltimore City Fire Department repair shop on Key Highway. But much of the memorial stayed about two miles from the collapsed bridge at the request of some victims’ families.

Marquez said he installed replacement canvasses where the mural was and a new section was added to honor the victims of the high-speed crash on I-695 last year that killed six road workers, some of whom had Latino heritage.


(Baltimore Sun photographer Barbara Haddock Taylor contributed to this article.)