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Students riot after learning of Paterno's firing - abc27 WHTM

Students riot after learning of Paterno's firing

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) -

Police used pepper spray on a crowd of Penn State fans who took to the streets of State College after learning legendary coach Joe Paterno has been fired.

An estimated 2,000 people had gathered in the downtown overnight to show their support for Paterno after learning the university's board of trustees decided late Wednesday that, effective immediately, the man affectionately known as "JoePa" would no longer be the leader of the Nittany Lions.

The board also announced the termination of Graham Spanier, sacking both the university president and Paterno for their handling of sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. No action was announced on athletic director Tim Curley, who asked Monday to be placed on administrative leave.

Downtown streets were flooded by the demonstrators for about three hours before some in the crowd turned to violence and overturned a television news van, shattering its windows, and reportedly pelting a photographer with rocks.

The large crowd responded in a rush through the streets as they tried to get away from police in riot gear and the pepper spray.

"This started out OK. This is not OK," one student said of the rioting. "This is not who we are as a university. This is a couple of kids just like Sandusky and Curley. They do not represent who we are and neither does this."

At least two people were arrested, and at least one person reportedly was taken to a hospital. Police said they were gathering information and said they would announce more information at a news conference Thursday morning.

"We can be supporting Joe. We should be supporting the kids," the student told abc27 News. "We have every right to be angry with Spanier and Curley, but not this. This is not who we are. This is an embarrassment."

Other students demonstrated outside Beaver Stadium, where fans shouted "We are Penn State!" and one-by-one hugged the statue of their hero,  some of them crying on the shoulder of his bronze likeness and shedding tears for a man loved by so many for so many decades, knowing that an era has come to an abrupt and very disappointing end.

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