College Agrees to Pay Damages to Bakery Over False Racism Claims

Oberlin College has now agreed to pay $36.59 million in damages to a nearby bakery after wrongly charging the owners of racism, following a lengthy court dispute.

Following a shoplifting happening with three black students in 2016, a lower court decided Oberlin defamed Gibson’s Bakery. Oberlin challenged this finding numerous times.

Racism allegations plague bakery

The bakery’s owner, Lorna Gibson, wrote of the financial and emotional hardship the discrimination charges caused her family and the company, which had been a mainstay of the neighborhood since 1885.

Her husband, David Gibson, stopped receiving cancer treatments when the trial began a number of years ago. He passed away before Oberlin agreed to pay the amount. Allyn Sr., her father-in-law, too passed away before the college paid her family.

The Ohio Supreme Court decided on August 30 it would not consider the college’s appeal.

Oberlin continued, stating it “has commenced payment in full,” which represents the full amount of damages and interest granted, and it “is expecting payment information from the plaintiffs.”

Gibson claimed, “While the Ohio Supreme Court’s recent ruling has given us optimism, if the money doesn’t come through in the next few months, I’ll be forced to file for bankruptcy and permanently close the doors of Gibson’s.”

Student with a false ID steals wine

When a black student with a bogus ID attempted to steal more wine bottles without paying, a Gibson’s Bakery employee refused to sell the student more wine. Three black kids and the store employee got into a physical argument over theft.

Before the three students admitted to the theft, students started blaming the bakery for prejudice because Oberlin and the student body did a lot of business there.

A black student was followed and confronted at Gibson’s after being charged with stealing. Gibson’s has a record of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment of students and residents alike, according to a statement from the school.

Oberlin stopped doing business with the bakery as a result of the outcry. A school administrator assisted in handing out flyers during the protest and the bakery was no longer accepted on campus.

Oberlin claimed that by allowing the students to protest, it was upholding their First Amendment rights.

However, a lower court found by failing to challenge the bakery’s claims of discrimination and, in the case of the administrator who distributed the flyers, by endorsing them, Oberlin defamed the bakery.

The trial team and the Gibson family issued a statement after the Supreme Court’s ruling, praising the result and accusing Oberlin of attempting to muddle the crucial details of the case.

The jury, the unanimous Ninth District Court of Appeals, and the majority of the justices on the Ohio Supreme Court all agreed Oberlin College’s reprehensible behavior could not be covered up by false claims of free speech.