An Ohio bakery owner is speaking out after her business reeled in $36 million following a court order demanding Oberlin College to compensate her family-owned business over a false accusation of racial profiling during a shoplifting incident.
“It is definitely bittersweet,” Gibson’s Bakery owner Lorna Gibson said Sunday on “Fox & Friends Weekend.”
“It took a tremendous toll [on my family]. A lot of stress, a lot of financial toll. It definitely hit us hard.”
The incident arose in Nov. 2016 when Allyn Gibson, the son of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart owners David Gibson and Allyn Gibson, chased and tackled a Black student who was suspected of stealing a bottle of wine on Nov. 9 of that year. Two students at Oberlin College, who are also Black and were friends with the student who stole the bottle, got involved in the incident, which became physical.
The three students were arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, court documents state.
In 2017, the owners of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart sued Oberlin College, alleging that the school had libeled them and caused harm to their business.
Oberlin College students protested outside the bakery following the shoplifting incident. During a protest, former Oberlin College vice president and dean of students Meredith Raimondo handed out flyers stating that the bakery was a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION,” according to court documents.
College resources were also used to print flyers and buy food and other supplies to support the protesters. The school also stopped buying food from the bakery.
The years-long case concluded earlier this year when the college’s attempts to overturn a jury’s decision that they had defamed the bakery ended with a massive $36 million payout.
Representing attorney Brandon McHugh and an Oberlin College spokesperson confirmed the payout earlier this year.
The compensation is expected to cover damages awarded, legal fees, and interest accrued.
Lee Plakas, an attorney representing the bakery, who joined ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ alongside Gibson, said Sunday that the “unfortunate takeaway” from the case is that Oberlin refuses to own up to its role in wreaking havoc on Gibson’s business.
“This should’ve really been a teaching moment for the college… and the students learned, they admitted their guilt, they apologized and went forward,” he told co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy on Sunday.
Responding to a Sept. 8 statement from Oberlin, Plakas added that, “The college still doesn’t get it… the teachers refused to be taught or accept the lesson.”
Gibson said she hopes that similar incidents will call into question what actually happened before people jump to conclusions or cling to one perspective.
She also added that the bakery’s plan is to remain open for the foreseeable future.
Oberlin College, responding to the court’s order in the Sept. 8 statement, said it was “disappointed” by the decision, but hoped it could signal healing for the community.
“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 statement read. “This matter has been painful for everyone. We hope that the end of the litigation will begin the healing of our entire community.”