State College streets quiet after late night riot by students


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- More than 10,000 students rallied Wednesday night in anger after Penn State University trustees announced that longtime football coach Joe Paterno had been fired.

"We don't care what the trustees say," said a young man over a megaphone, perched atop the stairs at the campus' Old Main administrative building. "We don't care what anybody says. We want JoePa back."

The crowd vastly outnumbered those from similar rallies Tuesday, and were a bit more dangerous.

A few blocks from Old Main, a WTAJ news van had been toppled. Students began throwing objects in the direction of the van and the police officers surrounding it.

PG VIDEO

Gas began to leak from the van and a spark threatened to ignite, seeming to scare protesters momentarily. Police, attempting to disperse the crowd, sprayed a pepper spray-like substance.

Some people set off firecrackers in the middle of the crowd, and other students pulled down a street lamp post on Beaver Avenue in downtown State College.

"We're all mad that JoePa got fired," said freshman Dillon Phillips.

Cries of "We want Joe," "One more game," and "We are ... Penn State!" filled the air.

Others held signs, one reading "JoePa or Bust."

Students were criticized on Twitter following Tuesday's marches. But Mr. Phillips said that was far from students' minds Wednesday night.

"We're concerned," he said. "But we don't care right now. We're mad."

Police in riot gear met the students when the rally moved to Beaver Avenue in downtown State College. The streets were mostly cleared by 1 a.m., although plenty of students still crowded the sidewalks near campus. As of late Wednesday night, there were no confirmed injuries.

"I want JoePa back," said sophomore Lori Shapiro, who was wearing a mask depicting Mr. Paterno.

Hardy Jasni, a sophomore from India, said he joined his classmates because he was angry.

"I don't care if anybody else got fired," he said. "JoePa didn't deserve to."

But not all were supportive of he football coach. One student held up a sign that said, "Paterno is not the victim." Another sat cross-legged in front of a single, glowing candle to remember the victims of the sex abuse scandal that ultimately cost Mr. Paterno his job.


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com . Laura Olson contributed to this report.


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