Racial dispute at beloved bakery roils liberal college town – Three black students arrested after punching and kicking white shopkeeper

In this Nov. 22, 2017 photo, pedestrians pass the storefront of Gibson's Food Mart & Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio. A long relationship between one of Americas most liberal colleges and 132-year-old family-owned Gibson's is in tatters amid student allegations of racial profiling. The bakery filed a lawsuit last month accusing the college and a top dean of slandering Gibson's as a racist establishment and taking steps to destroy the family's livelihood. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)

By DAKE KANG,  Associated Press   OBERLIN, Ohio (AP) 12/10 — Students at Oberlin College have long enjoyed pastries, bagels and chocolates from Gibson’s Bakery, a century-old, family-owned business near campus. That sweet relationship has turned bitter amid hotly disputed accusations of racism, roiling a school and town long known for their liberal politics.

The dispute, which began in November 2016 with the arrest of three black Oberlin students who tried stealing wine from Gibson’s, is now a lawsuit in which the exasperated bakery owners accuse the college and a top dean of slandering Gibson’s as a “racist establishment” and taking steps to destroy the family’s livelihood.

Caught in the middle are longtime residents of this town of 8,300 people, many of whom identify themselves as liberals but who have patronized Gibson’s for decades. Many believe the timing was right for the conflict to boil over; the arrests came the day after Donald Trump won the presidential election, electrifying students who had long heard suspicions of racial profiling at Gibson’s.

“I can understand why people were looking for some outlet for their frustration, but it’s just counterproductive to bend that anger towards a small family business that to my knowledge is not guilty of the sort of racial profiling that people accuse it of,” said retired Oberlin professor Roger Copeland.

The three students were arrested after punching and kicking the white shopkeeper. The 18- and 19-year-old students said that they were racially profiled and that their only crime was trying to buy alcohol with fake identification; the shopkeeper, Allyn Gibson, said the students attacked him after he caught them trying to steal bottles of wine.

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery. Members of Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.”

Few colleges put the “liberal” into “liberal arts” more than Oberlin, which in the early 1800s became the first in the country to regularly admit women and minorities. But it also more recently has become, for conservatives, a symbol of political correctness gone awry and entitled youth.

News articles in 2015 quoted students decrying the school dining hall’s sushi and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches as cultural appropriation. The divisive, voice-of-a-generation actress Lena Dunham, famously a 2008 Oberlin alumna, was quoted in Food & Wine magazine as saying, “The press reported it as, ‘How crazy are Oberlin kids?’ But to me, it was actually, ‘Right on.'”

With Oberlin’s reputation preceding it and news of the Gibson’s protests spreading online, bikers and out-of-town counter-protesters soon converged on the town to jeer students and buy doughnuts from Gibson’s. Conservatives derided the students on social media as coddled “snowflakes” with a mob mentality, while students attacked the store as a symbol of systemic racism.

The three students arrested at Gibson’s pleaded guilty in August to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing and said in statements required by a plea agreement that their actions were wrong and that the store wasn’t racist.

Even so, students continue to boycott Gibson’s over perceived racial profiling, causing business to suffer. Pressed by a reporter to provide evidence or examples of profiling, they said only that when black students enter the store, they feel as though they’re being watched.

“Racism can’t always be proven on an Excel sheet,” said Kameron Dunbar, an Oberlin junior and vice chair of the student senate.

Copeland and other residents say the accusations of racism are unfounded.

“I’ve never seen evidence; it’s always hearsay,” Copeland said. “When your fellow student is shutting down a conversation because he or she is made uncomfortable, it leads to a hive mentality.”

On Nov. 7, the Gibsons sued Oberlin and Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, for slander, accusing faculty members of encouraging demonstrations against the bakery by suspending classes, distributing flyers, and supplying protesters with free food and drink.

It says Raimondo took part in the demonstration against Gibson’s with a bullhorn and distributed a flyer that said the bakery is a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”

Today, the lawsuit says, college tour guides continue to inform prospective students that Gibson’s is racist.

Dave Gibson, the bakery’s owner, says the lawsuit is about standing up for his right to crack down on shoplifting without being branded as a racist. The suit says Oberlin demanded that he stop pushing criminal charges on first-time shoplifters and call school deans instead.

“I have not taken a paycheck since this happened more than a year ago,” Gibson said in an email. “Sometimes you have to stand up to a large institution. Powerful institutions — including Oberlin College — and their members must follow the same laws as the rest of us.”

Gibson’s loses thousands of dollars to theft, the lawsuit said. It rejects any accusations of racial bias, pointing to police figures in the past five years that show only six out of 40 adults arrested for shoplifting at the bakery were black.

The school said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed that it and Raimondo deny Gibson’s claims and that the college has stopped buying the bakery’s goods, ending what had been a decades-long relationship. Raimondo did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Attempts by the Oberlin Business Partnership to mediate between the school and bakery ended in failure, said partnership Director Janet Haar, with neither side appearing to be interested.

The clash has inspired Oberlin senior Jake Berstein, who said he witnessed the initial altercation, to produce a podcast trying to create a conversation that “isn’t being had” between the two sides.

“Gibson’s has become all that is wrong with America,” Berstein said. “It’s a classic case of those political bubbles that don’t communicate with each other, and don’t want to.”

___

Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report.

https://www.apnews.com/b5d75cf4772d4912b8c9ca56762aa343/Racial-dispute-at-beloved-bakery-roils-liberal-college-town

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Posted in: Assault, Black Lives Matter, Illegal Activities, Lawsuits, Racial Issues, Racial Profiling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × three =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.