Ohio college to pay $36 million over false racism allegations

Oberlin College in Ohio racked up more than $4 million in interest after not paying the more than $30 million in libel damages to a local family-run bakery over false racism allegations made in 2016. 

Gibson’s Bakery was awarded $31.6 million in July of 2019 after students and a college official were found guilty of libeling the establishment as "racist" following an altercation a store employee had with three Black students. 

The judgment now stands at more than $36 million after the school accumulated $4,300 daily in interest over the more than 1,000 days it went unpaid

The damages stem from false racism allegations that were promoted by a former dean at the school. 

Allyn Gibson, the son and grandson of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart owners David Gibson and Allyn Gibson, chased down and tackled a Black Oberlin student in 2016 who was suspected of stealing bottles of wine. 

Two other Black students at Oberlin College, who were friends of the suspect, also became involved in the physical incident, prompting accusations of racial profiling. 

All three students were arrested, according to court documents, and ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and read statements claiming that Gibson’s actions were not racially motivated. 

Gibson’s Bakery filed a lawsuit against Oberlin College in 2017, claiming they were libeled, and their business was hurt. 

The Oberlin College Student Senate additionally passed a resolution accusing the bakery’s owners of being racist, which was emailed to the school community,

Oberlin College vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, also handed out flyers stating that the bakery is a "RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,"

The jury found the college guilty of intentionally inflicting emotional distress on owner David Gibson, who has since died, as well as intentionally inflicting emotional distress on his son.

The Gibson family is demanding Oberlin pay the full $36 million, which includes the roughly $4 million in interest, after Oberlin College asked the Ohio Supreme Court to issue an order halting the payment. 


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