Brawls break out at oil response job fair, police shut event down - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Brawls break out at oil response job fair, police shut event down

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hot weather and rising frustrations caused tempers to boil over at a job fair in Gulfport. Witnesses say hundreds of people arrived Wednesday morning hoping to get oil response jobs. Around 10:00 AM, they learned it was a wasted trip.

Gulfport Police directed a steady flow of cars onto Seaway Road and away from the Win Job Center. The motorists had driven in hoping for oil spill jobs.

"I heard that you come up here from 9 to 3, and you get you a job," said Derek Jefferson. "So I just came up here to try to see what was going on."

Witnesses say so many people showed up looking for jobs that not everyone could fit inside the building. Many people were forced to wait outside in the heat. Witnesses say the lines were staggered and confusing, so when some people started to cut, tempers flared and people went to blows.

"Too many people showed up. They were cussing and fighting out here," said Jefferson.

"It was chaos. There was a line all the way out the door," said Meghan McGill, another job applicant. "There had to be at least 300 to 500 people, completely disorganized. Nobody knew what was going on. They had to shut the whole thing down before a riot broke out."

Witnesses say people drove in from neighboring counties and beyond for the hope of a job. They say what happened is a sign of growing desperation.

"I'm depending on it. I've got a baby. I've got to take care of my baby," Jefferson said. 

ATI Staffing is the company that organized the job fair. Employees would only say they were no longer taking applications for Thursday and would not comment on job applicants' claims that the event poorly organized. The company also refused to give WLOX the name or phone number of supervisor to contact.

Gulfport police say no one was arrested in the disturbance.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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