State Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Tamaqua, said Penn State President Eric Barron should either issue a public apology to law enforcement officials or step down as president after having given the “hands up” gesture in a show of support to students who participated in a “die-in” at Old Main (“Legislator: Apologize or resign,” CDT, Tuesday).
Knowles described Barron’s action as “offensive” and “disrespectful to police officers.”
It seems to me that in choosing to show support to students who had organized an entirely peaceful (as well as educational and moving) protest against the deeply disturbing fact of racial disparity in treatment of American citizens by the criminal justice system, Barron was fulfilling his responsibility as “mayor of Penn State,” and I for one am proud to have such a “mayor.”
As for expecting Barron to “say he’s sorry,” I would ask Knowles exactly how much stock he puts in empty words. That language when forced on a child rings hollow. Barron is an adult, and, as far as I can tell, an honorable one. I doubt that he is sorry for standing up for students who deserved his support; at least I hope he’s not. If I were him, the only apology I could honestly offer would be to be sorry for any unintended pain others may have experienced as a result of my actions