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Oberlin Hit With $11 Million Verdict For Role In Defaming Local Bakery

Added 06-11-19 12:55:02pm EST - “Two years ago, I wrote a column about a controversy involving Oberlin College and allegations of racism leveled against the family-owned Gibson's Bakery. The bakery appears unfairly attacked for an?” - Jonathanturley.org


Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Jonathanturley.org: “Oberlin Hit With $11 Million Verdict For Role In Defaming Local Bakery”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Two years ago, I wrote a column about a controversy involving Oberlin College and allegations of racism leveled against the family-owned Gibson’s Bakery. The bakery appears unfairly attacked for an incident involving African-American students — an incident that the college proceeded to address without any semblance of objectively or fairness toward the long-standing local bakery. I said that the time that the bakery had ample reason to sue. Well, now an Ohio jury has hit Oberlin College with crushing damages of an $11.2 million. What is most disturbing is the failure of any action taken against the college president and other officials who not only allowed these abuses to occur but then took a remarkably bad case to court at a loss in millions in damages and fees. The poor judgment shown by college officials in this controversy is matched by the equally poor judgment of the college counsel in pursuing this case. And the jury has not even convened yet to consider punitive damages.

As we discussed earlier, Gibson’s Bakery alleged in the complaint below that school officials encouraged a boycott over false accusations of racism after three Oberlin students were arrested at the business for shoplifting.  What is curious is that the students pleaded guilty to the charges and the Oberlin police found no evidence of racism. Yet, the bakery is still be accused of racial profiling and running a “racist establishment.”

The controversy began in November 2016 when three black Oberlin students — Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone — were caught stealing wine.  In August, the students admitted their guilt and also agreed that the store had not engaged in racist conduct in their arrest.  Moreover, the students reportedly punched and kicked the shopkeeper. They initially claimed to have been racially profiled and that they only crime was using fake ids.  However, Allyn Gibson said that he was attacked immediately after catching them with the stolen bottles of wine.  The students ultimately dropped the claims and admitted that their guilt.

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at approximately 4:58pm, officers responded to the area of Gibson’s Bakery in reference to a report of a fight in progress. As officers were responding to the area, dispatch advised that this was involving an alleged theft complaint. Dispatch advised that Allyn Gibson, who is an employee of Gibson’s Bakery, was attempting to apprehend a subject who Allyn had witnessed attempt to steal several items. As officers approached the area, Sgt. Ortiz, and Officer Feuerstein both stated they observed Allyn Gibson lying on his back with several individuals kneeling over him punching and kicking him with several other individuals in the immediate area. Officers attempted to gain control of the situation and were met several times with resistance from several different individuals. After a few minutes officers were finally able to take one female into custody and calm the incident and attempt to figure out what had taken place.

Moreover, the Oberlin police conducted an investigation into arrests at Gibson’s and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” The police looked at arrested over a five-year period, and found 40 adults arrested for shoplifting but only six were African-American.


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