Sunday, July 22, 2012

At Penn State a Statue Falls


Penn State took down the statue of Joe Paterno this morning with little ceremony beyond the sound of jackhammers on a Sunday morning. They had the area cordoned off with barriers and blue tarps so little could be seen. The plaques of football players on the wall behind him were also removed, but his name will remain on the library. Now the town of College Station awaits tomorrow's announcement of possibly strict sanctions from the NCAA. For football fans and supporters of Paterno still in shock over the Sandusky scandal, it's hard to say which day will be the hardest.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Twitter Response to the Statue

From Centre Daily News:
By 7:45 a.m. this morning, jackhammers rattled behind a metal fence covered by a blue tarp. The statue was tied to a forklift. The fence shielded the statue, covered in clear plastic and protective packaging materials.

The statue was removed at 8:24 a.m. The forklift carried it into the stadium's Gate A as about a dozen workers followed.

A moment later, a man in the crowd started a "We are Penn State" chant. After it finished, another man yelled, "We love you, Joe."

An hour later, Penn State workers began removing lettering and plaques from the wall behind where the statue stood.

From Huffington Post - Onlookers React
Many of those watching the removal stared in disbelief and at least one woman wept, while others expressed anger at the decision.

"I think it was an act of cowardice on the part of the university," Mary Trometter of Williamsport, who wore a shirt bearing Joe Paterno's image. She said she felt betrayed by university officials, saying they promised openness but said nothing about the decision until just before the removal work began.

. . . Derek Leonard, 31, a university construction project coordinator who grew up in the area, said the construction workers on the project told him it was like watching a funeral when the statue was lowered onto the truck and then rolled away. He didn't completely agree with the decision but worried more that the NCAA would shut down the football program.
"It's going to kill our town," he said.

Richard Hill, 67, West Chester, a Penn State alumnus, said, "If you punish the football program or Joe Paterno – they're tied together – this town is going to suffer. The revenue does an awful lot to keep this town viable and lively."

Colby Walk, 40, who grew up in the Penn State area, wondered why an NCAA punishment was necessary, given the criminal charges, officials fired or forced out, Paterno's death and now the statue's removal.
"It's kind like we already have the death penalty," he said, referring to the worry that the NCAA would shut down the Penn State football program.

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