STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The famed statue of Joe Paterno outside the Penn State football stadium was taken down this morning and put in storage. It had stood in a place of honor for more than a decade. But Sunday night, all that remains is an empty space.
The 7 foot, 900 pound bronze statue was one of the most symbolic pieces of Paterno imagery on campus. But the tribute to the coaching legend came under fire after an investigative report found he and other PSU officials concealed sex abuse claims against Jerry Sandusky.
Construction crews and Penn State police arrived right after dawn Sunday, barricading the street and sidewalks near the Joe Paterno Statue. Fencing covered with blue tarps were used to block the view. By 7:30AM workers were on their way to removing the bronze sculpture from the ground.
And then it was gone. Taken into Beaver Stadium for storage. The entire area where the statue stood is bare, walls that held plaques and other items are empty.
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said he decided to have the monument removed because it became a source of division and an obstacle to healing. He stated: I believe that were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse.
"I think it's a good decision," said Dan Murray. "I believe to do it now is the right thing too and not to have this drag on, make the decision get it done."
"I think our young people need to have positive reinforcement, I think they need to have positive role models and reminders of why they're there, and that's not one," said Brenda Hendricks.
The Paterno family released a statement: Tearing down the statue of Joe Paterno does not serve the victims of Jerry Sandusky's horrible crimes or help heal the Penn State Community. We believe the only way to help the victims is to uncover the full truth."
Paterno's legacy came under fire after the release of the Freeh report. It concluded that Joe Pa could have prevented further sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky had he taken action.
"What he did for the school was good so I totally do not agree that he should be punished by removing that," said Nancy Natale. "He's been an icon there and it should continue to be that way."
"I think the statue coming down is an important part of the healing," said Murray.
"To try to erase his memory and what he did there I think it's an insult," said Matt Stackhouse. "And I think it's an insult to the students, I think it's an insult to everybody around."
The monument's removal comes six month's to the day of Paterno's death.