Things got down right ugly last night after the Penn State Board of Trustees announced its decision to fire coach Joe Paterno and University president Graham Spanier, effective immediately. "Of course we’re going to riot," a Penn State student told the Times last night. "What do they expect when they tell us at 10 o’clock that they fired our football coach?" By the end of the night a news van had been tipped, lampposts had been overturned, police had used pepper spray to calm the crowds and the school resorted to sending out a mass text to clear downtown State College, Pennsylvania.
According to reports about 100 police officers were downtown, many wearing helmets and carrying pepper spray. State College police have not yet released information on any possible arrests.
Much of the vitriol seems to be from students and football fans who feel that Joe Paterno, who had already said he would resign at the end of the season, was being unfairly punished as he had, technically, reported assistant coach Jerry Sandusky to Penn State athletic director Timothy Curley and Penn State senior vice president of finance Gary Schultz. The flipping of the news van seemed particularly significant to some. "I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for Joe Pa going down," a freshman told the Times.
After more than an hour of mayhem Penn State sent out a mass text at 12:30 a.m. that told students "Police issue official dispersal order for Old Main, downton State College. Everyone must vacate both areas immediately." At which point the straight up riot gear showed up. Still, students seemed proud of the result. "We got rowdy, and we got maced," one told the Gray Lady while trying to rub pepper spray out of his eyes. "But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend." Because clearly Paterno didn't tarnish his own legend by not doing more to keep a pedophile from his team.
Meanwhile a lawyer who has been advising one of Sandusky's alleged victims has come out to say that he thinks the school should not have fired Paterno, saying:
They should have considered these victims watch TV and are aware of the students' reaction and may not want to be associated with the downfall of Mr. Paterno. The school instead elected to do what it felt was in its own best interest at the time. Isn’t that what put the school in this position in the first place?
Here's video of students knocking down a lamp post:
And here are the students knocking over a news van: