A youth job fair at the Booker T. Washington center and organized by Mothers Against Teen was halted for a time when a fight erupted outside. Despite the incident, nearly 400 people stopped by the fair - some, even hired on the spot.
"I was just extremely surprised and upset (by the fight) because this seems like an amazing event, and I don't understand why people have to do stuff like that," said Aaron Holman, 14, of Erie.
The fight involved about 20 people and started just before 1:30pm on Saturday, shortly after the job fair opened.
"It was like punching, a whole group of boys just fighting. I was like, 'Oh my God, you're supposed to be here getting jobs, not fighting," said Monesha Williams, 16, of Erie.
Erie police and emergency crews were called to the scene, and police resorted to mace in order to break up the fight. One person was transported to the hospital for non life threatening injuries.
"I'm very upset, I'm appalled, I'm angry. You know, I'm trying to do something nice to keep these kids off the street and out of trouble," said Sonya Arrington, founder of Mothers Against Teen Violence.
Employers though, say they recognize that it's just a handful of kids who caused the trouble and not the status quo.
"Not all of our kids are out here on the streets doing crime, or things that are negative. There are some good kids," said Sharon Newell, hiring supervisor of Voices for Independence, one of the 20 employers at the fair.
"It's good to have opportunities like this to show the community that we do have kids who want to get out here early in the day and become gainful employees," Newell said.
While the fight and strong police presence caused some job hunters to leave, most stayed, determined to pursue their goals.
"My dad, he's really big on responsibility and I feel like having a job teaches you how to get a lot of responsibility," said Aaron. He's hoping to get his first job at the Erie Zoo.
"I feel that if I can get a job early, I can help my dad pay for my college," said Antonio Holman, 15, Aaron's older brother.
Organizers are also not deterred, planning on hosting future job fairs - though with extra precautions.
"I'm going to have this next year, but next year, I know I need the Erie Police Department here. It's sad, but I do," Arrington said.
As of Saturday night, one juvenile was in police custody.