Penn State students protect Paterno statue

Kim Ranck touches the arm on the Joe Paterno statue as she walks away in tears Wednesday, July 18, 2012. Nabil K. Mark,AP Photo/Centre Daily Times

(CBS/AP) STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Following calls for the removal of Joe Paterno's statue from the Penn State campus, some students have begun a vigil to protect the statute from vandals.

Seniors Mike Elliot and Kevin Berkon organized an impromptu gathering at the statue Tuesday after a plane flew over campus with a banner that read, "Take the statue down or we will."

Berkon said they were "extremely angry" about the message.

Elliot said police told them they couldn't sleep at the statue, but they were allowed to set up a tent — and they were willing to stay up all night if necessary.

He said the action wasn't intended as a protest but only to protect the statue from harm.

University police, who have an officer monitoring the statue, didn't return calls seeking comment.

A scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh last week concluded that Paterno helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Freeh report has tarnished the bronze statue of Paterno that had been a rallying point for students in the months since Sandusky's November arrest touched off the scandal.

Earlier Tuesday, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said that no decision has been made on whether to take down the statue.

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A company that towed the banner demanding the removal of the statue has a history of controversy, according to aviation records.

According to the Centre Daily Times, the FAA grounded a plane from the same company - Air America Aerial Ads - after it towed banners taunting Tiger Woods during the 2010 Masters golf tournament.

A man who answered the phone at Air America declined to give his name or identify who paid for the flight, but he says they believe in free speech.

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