Controversies Polls
Original Joe Paterno statue Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

The statue of former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno stands outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Friday, July 13, 2012.

September 01, 2017

More people agree with removal of Joe Paterno statue than want Robert E. Lee's taken down, NYT poll finds

A majority also supported the removal of a statue of former Philly Mayor Frank Rizzo

A greater majority of people agree with Penn State University's decision to remove a controversial statue of former Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno than statues of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to a new poll from The New York Times.

The publication surveyed nearly 33,000 readers on "which statues need to come down," a poll spurred by the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, 32, died after a car barreled into a group of activists counter-protesting a "Unite the Right" rally in the city that was initially organized in opposition to the removal of a statue of Lee.


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The New York Times, which released the results Tuesday under "The Upshot," its section dedicated to data-driven reporting, chose 16 figures, including Christopher Columbus and former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Andrew Jackson.

"Here are some of the men and monuments that have come up for debate," The Times wrote. "In some cases it's entire careers being reconsidered, while in others it's the specific statue, or its location, that has drawn criticism. It's not easy to draw the line between what should remain and what should come down, but help us out."

A whopping 80 percent of New York Times readers support the removal of Paterno's statue, which was taken down from the Happy Valley campus after drawing much ire following the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal in 2012. Paterno died months after he was fired in 2011. Many have petitioned to bring the statue of the former coach back in recent years, however.

Seventy-three percent of voters supported the removal of statues of Lee, a slaveholder and symbol of white supremacy.

Former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo was also included on the list, with 55 percent of readers supporting the removal of his statue outside the Municipal Services Building in Center City.

Protesters and Philadelphia politicians alike have called for the removal of Rizzo's tribute as of late, following the events in Charlottesville.

Rizzo, a former Philadelphia police commissioner and two-term mayor, used harsh tactics to cut down on crime, which worsened race relations. The title of his obituary in The New York Times after he died in 1991 called him both a "hero and "villain."

Check out the complete results from "The Upshot" here