Oberlin College Pays $36 Million Settlement To Gibson’s Bakery

Oberlin College has paid out the $36 million settlement owed to Gibson’s Bakery for the defamation lawsuit filed against the school for claiming the bakery had racially profiled three black students who were caught stealing from the store in 2016.

The 137-year-old bakery plans to use the money to rebuild the store after the business suffered a double hit of racism charges and the effects of COVID-19.

The case was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, which upheld a 2019 ruling in favor of Gibson’s bakery.

On Nov. 9, 2016, one day after the election of President Trump and the ensuing protests, Oberlin College student Jonathan Aladin stole a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery and was pursued out of the store and down the street by Allyn Gibson Jr., son of David and Lorna Gibson, owners of the bakery.

Two black female students, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone assisted Aladin, and Gibson Jr. was beaten in the scuffle that followed. When the police arrived, the students alleged Allyn racially profiled and assaulted them.

The arrest led to a student-led campaign accusing the Gibsons of racial profiling and racism. Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimond attended and addressed the protest adding fuel to the fire and leading to the college canceling its standing order with the bakery.

According to Lorna Gibson, the college put out a statement implying that it wasn’t an isolated incident. The student senate passed a resolution urging the school to cut ties with Gibson Bakery, which was posted in a display case at the student center.

The Gibsons attempted to work with the college, but Oberlin would not consider issuing a statement and allowed the public to believe that the Gibsons were, in fact, “racist,” even after the students pleaded guilty.

In 2017, the Gibsons filed a lawsuit against Oberlin for libel because, according to Lorna Gibson, “David’s 89-year-old father, who had dedicated his life to the business, did not want to die being falsely branded a racist.”

On Thursday, Brandon McHugh, the Gibson family’s attorney, told 3 News that the funds had been received and that “the family is continuing with the process of rebuilding Gibson’s Bakery for the next generations.”

“It’s definitely about right and wrong. And to be quite frank, the three students that shoplifted, they admitted their crimes,” added McHugh. “It was Oberlin College that could never admit that what they did was wrong.”