Oberlin College was hit with a $11.2 million verdict on Friday after its students and faculty falsely accused Gibson’s Bakery of engaging in racial profiling.
The Lorain County, Ohio jury found that the notoriously liberal college and its vice president and dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, “interfered with business relationships and libeled” Gibson’s, a family-owned bakery, as well as its owners, David Gibson and his son Allyn, according to the Chronicle-Telegram.
The college itself was found to have “inflicted emotional distress” on business owners. $5.8 million went to David. Allyn received $3 million, and the bakery itself received $2.2 million.
The Chronicle-Telegram reported:
The jury found in favor of David Gibson on both counts of libel against the college and Raimondo. The jurors blamed only the college for intentional infliction of emotional distress to David Gibson, clearing Raimondo on that count.
The jurors ruled in the same manner for the libel and infliction of emotional distress involving Allyn W. Gibson.
The jury also found for the bakery on counts of libel against both the college and Raimondo. Raimondo was held responsible for interference of business relationships while the college was cleared.
“All the Gibsons ever wanted was for the truth to come out,” said Gibson family attorney Lee Plakas. “All they ever asked from the beginning, from Oberlin College, was to use its power and influence and might to tell the truth, and that letter never came. But the jury sent the letter that was louder and more visible and more public. I think the Gibson family is grateful for that and grateful for the jury to have the courage to be able to send a letter that no one else would send for the last almost three years.”
The lawsuit stemmed from a 2016 incident involving three black Oberlin students who claimed they were victims of racial profiling even though one was caught openly shoplifting and trying to use a fake ID to buy alcohol. When Allyn Gibson followed the student out of the store and confronted him, “the two got into a physical altercation,” the Chronical-Telegram reported. When the two other students joined in, police said all three were hitting Allen Gibson, who was on the ground. All three students pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and denied that Allyn’s actions were racially motivated in August 2017.
After the incident, however, Oberlin College faculty and students engaged in a series of protests against the bakery, urged people to boycott, and Raimondo even made a flyer accusing the store of regularly racial profiling its customers.
The college reportedly contended that it merely allowed students to engage in free speech.
“I don’t want to be afraid to even work there anymore,” David Gibson told press. “I just want this to send the message so that we can enjoy our community and the business that we’ve had for all these generations.”
The protests forced the bakery to cut staff and “devastated” its revenue, David Gibson said during trial testimony, according to the Chronicle-Telegram.