A Ohio court ordered Oberlin College to pay Gibson's Bakery up to $33 million in defamation-related damages in 2019, after the dean of students at the college created a woke mob accusing the family of being racists; this was after the shop owner called officers on three black students who were shoplifting a bottle of wine. The amount was due to be given to Gibson's Bakery by April 1, however the college did not pay it, regardless of the fact that 2 plaintiffs are dead.
On November 9th, 2016, one day after the election of president Donald Trump, Jonathan Aladin, a black Oberlin student, was arrested for stealing a wine bottle by Allyn Gibson, a Gibson's employee, who also happens to be white.
“Gibson chased Aladin down the street and, according to witness accounts reported by The New York Times, put the man in a choke-hold before two of the student's friends – Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone – intervened and a brawl ensued,” according to the Daily Mail.
In the weeks that followed, Oberlin students proceeded to complain about the 137-year-old bakery that was long-time a part of Oberlin, of discriminating against racial minorities. The person who fueled the fires was the dean of students at the college, Meredith Raimondo; she handed out leaflets that accused the bakery of racist practices. In one instance, Raimondo sent a dean from the college to tell him: “F**k him. I'd say unleash the students if I wasn't convinced this needs to be put behind us.”
Beyond Raimondo, a student senate resolution condemned the bakery via a campus-wide email, and put slanderous materials on an exhibit case in the Student Center for more than a year. Campus officials also instructed food service providers to stop any food purchases made from the bakery.
After Aladin, Lawrence, and Whettstone plead guilty to “charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespass” while acknowledging that Gibson's Bakery had no race-related motivations, Raimondo continued to work for Oberlin College through 2021, when she was transferred onto Oglethorpe College in Georgia.
Although Gibson's Bakery had its name cleared, the damage had been done to the bakery as it suffered huge financial losses. The family filed a suit for defamation and was successful. The Mail reports:
In 2019, Oberlin College was found guilty of a number of charges, largely due to the evidence presented against Raimondo who circulated fliers in the course of demonstrations, claiming that the bakery had a long-standing history of racial profiling. The bakery gave students as much as $100 as compensation for supplies used in protests.
In 2019, Oberlin College was found guilty and ordered to pay Gibson's Bakery $40 million in damages. This was decreased to $25 million and six million dollars in court costs.
Three years later, Oberlin has yet to pay the bakery despite the fact that two plaintiffs have died: David Gibson at age 65 and Allyn Gibson at 93.
Both Oberlin College and Raimondo had appeals dismissed this month.
“Oberlin is obviously disappointed that the appeals court affirmed the judgment in its ruling. We are reviewing the Court's opinion carefully as we evaluate our options and determine next steps,” the college said to the Mail.
“In the meantime, we recognize that the issues raised by this case have been challenging, not only for the parties involved in the lawsuit, but for the entire Oberlin community,” it said. “We remain committed to strengthening the partnership between the College, the City of Oberlin, its residents, and the downtown business community. We will continue in that important work while remaining focused on our core educational mission.”