Oberlin College to Pay $36.59M to Local Bakery After Allegedly Accusing Owners of Being Racist

Oberlin College has ben ordered to pay $36.59 million in damages to Gibson’s Bakery in Ohio after the store owners claimed the school accused them of being racist when three students were arrested for shoplifting at the store in 2016.

via People:

The decision was announced Thursday after the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear Oberlin’s appeal on Aug. 30 of the $25 million judgment awarded to Gibson’s, according to the college’s website.

“We are disappointed by the Court’s decision. However, this does not diminish our respect for the law and the integrity of our legal system,” the school said in a statement to PEOPLE. “This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”

Representatives for Gibson’s did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In November 2016, a student from Oberlin College, Jonathan Aladin was arrested for allegedly trying to “steal wine or otherwise illegally obtain wine” from the bakery, per a court document uploaded by CNN. Two other students — Cecelia Whettston and Endia J. Lawrence — who were with Aladin at the time were also arrested and accused of misdemeanor assault, the legal filing stated.

The arrests later prompted a protest outside the bakery, with students and staff members from the college allegedly distributing fliers to accuse the owners of being racist. As a result, the bakery suffered financial losses.

The students eventually pleaded guilty to the charges. Aladin confessed in a statement that he tried to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol at the shop when one of the owners attempted to stop him, CNN reported.

“I believe the employees of Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated,” Aladin wrote. “They were merely trying to prevent an underage sale.”

In 2017, Gibson’s Bakery filed a lawsuit against the liberal arts school claiming that Oberlin’s representatives including Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo “handed out hundreds of copies of the flyer” to his staff, students and community stating that “Gibson’s Bakery and its owners racially profiled and discriminated against Aladin, Whettston and Lawrence.”

The flyer stated that Gibson’s Bakery “is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” according to the lawsuit.

“Defamation, boycotts, demonstrations and refusal to do business with Gibson’s Bakery was having a devastating effect on Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family,” the suit added.

Following the decision from Ohio Supreme Court last month, Oberlin said in a statement on Thursday that “the size of this verdict is significant.”

“However, our careful financial planning, which includes insurance coverage, means that we can satisfy our legal obligation without impacting our academic and student experience,” they added. “It is our belief that the way forward is to continue to support and strengthen the quality of education for our students now and into the future.”

Just because this one incident wasn’t a clear-cut example of racism, doesn’t mean Gibson’s Bakery doesn’t have a history of racist incidents.

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