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Jobless protesters hold silent rally over freeway

June 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Several unemployed people stood on a freeway overpass to call attention to joblessness in a silent protest. Their demonstration did have an impact. It happened on the 57 Freeway in Anaheim Wednesday morning.

The silent protest was held by nine well-dressed men and women on the Lincoln Avenue overpass of the 57 Freeway in Anaheim during the morning commute.

"We met on the overpass to draw attention to ourselves and our situation," said Rand Christensen, one of the unemployed protesters.

Some have been unemployed for two months. Others, like Christensen, has been unemployed for more than two years. He says his benefits ran out a month ago.

The former editor and public-relations specialist is helping job-seekers with their resumes, volunteering at a job fair in Anaheim, a city where unemployment sits at 9.5 percent.

More than 7,000 people attended the fair, with 2,600 jobs being offered, from hospitality positions to law enforcement.

Chrys Ruybal, who also protested on the overpass, wants to transfer her skills to another job after being laid off.

Ruybal hoped the unique protest would bring awareness. They're highly skilled, educated and willing to work.

The Wednesday morning demonstration slowed traffic for 15 minutes before the California Highway Patrol told them to move along, no loitering allowed.

Christensen has no regrets the protest. In fact it may have paid off: He just met a potential employer at the job fair.

"He was very impressed with our little episode this morning on the freeway," said Christensen. "He says that shows innovation and boldness."

City officials said at last year's Anaheim Convention Center job fair, more than 30 percent of people who were interviewed got jobs.

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