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State Representative Demands Apology from President Barron for Posing With Hands Up

Republican state Rep. Jerry Knowles is demanding an apology in response to President Eric Barron posing with a group of students following one of last week’s die-in protests.

“As a former member of the law enforcement community, I believe Penn State President Eric Barron’s recent actions at a protest on campus were disrespectful, and as a result, I believe he should either issue a public apology to law enforcement officials, or step down as president of the university,” Knowles said in an interview with the Centre Daily Times.

The CDT reported Knowles went as far as to call the president’s actions “a slap in the face” to law enforcement of every race.

Barron issued a statement after Knowles spoke with University officials last week.

“I strongly support and highly value law enforcement and our judicial process. At the same time, our nation faces a dilemma. We have a portion of our population who feels more vulnerable by virtue of their appearance,” Barron said in the statement. “Our students faced this dilemma — even when confronted by hate language posted anonymously to social media sites — with a thoughtful and peaceful process that demonstrated their concerns. My sole purpose was to show my support and solidarity for the students involved.”

Knowles was not pleased with Barron’s response, calling it less an apology than it was an explanation.

“He just has to say he’s sorry,” Knowles said. “That’s all.”

UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: President Barron elaborated on his position at today’s faculty senate meeting, decrying the use of anonymous social media sites like Yik Yak to propagate racism.

Barron said some students at Penn State feel threatened because of the possibility that students posting racist messages are the ones sitting next to them in class. In doing so, he referenced Yaks that discussed wearing golf cleats to walk in front of Old Main during its die-in.

“I’m not making a political statement,” Barron said on his hands-up pose. “I’m making a statement about civility. This is to support the students and make them know the university is on their side.”

Photo By: Mildred Williams

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