Within minutes of the announcement by Penn State’s Board of Trustees to fire coach Joe Paterno (11/9), the news had reached virtually everyone in State College, PA via Twitter and Facebook. Soon students poured into the streets. Rioters then destroyed Nexstar’s WTAJ-TV (CBS) Johnstown-Altoona news van that night. The van was parked on the campus when large group of young people surrounded the vehicle and began chanting.
Some of the rioters then pushed the van over onto its side and broke windows and gear attached to the vehicle. Police quickly moved in and disbursed the crowd, using pepper spray. Gas from the truck soon pouring into the street. At one point a flare was thrown dangerously close to the pool. No WTAJ employees were injured in the incident.
See the video here:
With order restored the crowd started chanting “we are Penn State” and “Joe Pa-terno” but when the chant turned to “Old Main” the massive crowd was on the move to College Avenue ahead of police.
The crowd also shattered car windows and knocked over street signs.
Paterno, of course, was fired because he was told by a graduate assistant in 2002 that former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had sexually assaulted a boy, believed to be 10 years old, in the showers of Penn State’s football complex. Paterno did nothing more than inform athletic director Tim Curley and university vice president Gary Schultz of the allegation. He never personally called police.
In a statement Paterno said: “I am disappointed with the Board of Trustees’ decision but I have to accept it…I appreciate the outpouring of support, but want to emphasize that everyone should remain calm and please respect the university, its property and all that we value.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We’re not sure why the students chose a TV news van to take out their frustrations, rather than some PSU property or building. The best guess we can give is that it was in the wrong place at the wrong time and also (perhaps) they figured by attacking a media outlet would get their anger noticed more quickly. Unfortunately for the rioters who damaged the van, some of them are now on tape for the police to review.