PITTSBURGH (AP) — Donald Trump was showing off his knowledge of all things Pennsylvania during a Pittsburgh rally Wednesday night when he asked a baffling question — about Penn State’s famed football coach.
“How’s Joe Paterno?” Trump asked supporters. “Are we gonna bring that back? Right? … How about that whole deal?”
Paterno died in January 2012 just months after being dismissed following a child sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, his former assistant coach.
A campaign spokeswoman later confirmed that the GOP presidential front-runner wasn’t talking about Paterno himself but about his statue, which was removed from outside the football stadium four years ago, angering students and many alumni.
The statue was taken down after a university-commissioned report accused the late coach and three administrators of concealing sex abuse claims against Sandusky, a claim Paterno’s family denies.
In February, two artists involved in producing the Paterno statue said they’re working on two new statues of the coach in a secret location.
Trump’s rally drew thousands to a downtown convention center — as well as hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the venue, chanting and waving signs.
Inside, Trump pumped up the hometown crowd.
“I know a lot about Pennsylvania, and it’s great,” said Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
As his supporters filed out at the end of the rally, they and the protesters engaged in heated verbal confrontations, with supporters chanting “USA!” and “Build that wall!” and protesters shouting profanities. Police in riot gear separated them.
Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Emily Schaffer said there were some minor injuries, including to police officers, but she did not have additional details.
Among those hurt was an 18-year-old Trump supporter who was led to an emergency medical services van and treated after he was pepper-sprayed in the face by a man his friends identified as a protester.