The famously liberal Oberlin College and its vice president and dean of students are now facing a libel and slander suit for allegedly supporting a protest campaign against a local business. In a series of protests that included hundreds of students, faculty and staff, the bakery was accused of being "racist" for seeking to prosecute three students — one of whom is white — for shoplifting, a crime for which all three pleaded guilty.
In a story that, as HotAir's Jazz Shaw puts it, is yet another example of a business bearing the brunt of social justice warrior hysteria for being "insufficiently 'woke,'" local bakers became the target of a protest for supposedly being "racist" because they were pressing charges for a violent shoplifting incident to which all three culprits ended up pleading guilty. Despite the accusations being wholly unfounded, the massively expensive college, and particularly the vice president, allegedly supported student-led efforts to damage the bakery's business.
The Morning Journal published an article on the lawsuit Thursday that provides some rather damning details regarding Oberlin's role in helping to fuel the unfounded student protests. The suit, filed on behalf of David and Allyn Gibson on November 7, accuses the college and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo of supporting the business-damaging, unfounded protests last year.
"Jonathan Aladin, 20, Cecelia Whettston, 19, and Endia Lawrence, 20, pleaded guilty in August to charges of attempted theft and aggravated trespassing. Aladin also pleaded guilty to underage purchase of alcohol," the Journal reports. "Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James L. Miraldi placed the trio on one year of community control and ordered them to pay restitution to the store. As part of the plea deal, they were required to read statements explicitly stating the incident was not racially motivated."
The lawsuit says that even though the students stated themselves that the action taken against them was not racially motivated, the college helped students unfairly protest the store in order to promote the college's image of having a "legacy of being a strong advocate for and a strong supporter of African American students and racial minorities."
Though Aladin pleaded guilty to the theft charge, the suit states, a member of Oberlin's board of trustees paid a retainer for an attorney to fight the charges while the college paid for a limo to take Aladin to meet with his lawyer in Columbus. The college also announced publicly that it would no longer purchase anything from the bakery, Raimondo allegedly forcing the action.
Gibson claims that President Marvin Krislov told him the college might be open to renewing the contract with the bakers if they would contact the college before contacting the police and would not push for criminal charges for first-time offenders. Though Gibson refused, the contract with the bakery was eventually reinstated in February 2017. The school, however, has yet to retract any of its defamatory statements.
The suit suggests that Oberlin's motive might have to do with gaining control of the parking lot which Gibson partly owns that is adjacent to the business.
The Journal notes that the protests against the bakery included "hundreds of students, deans, professors and college staff filling the sidewalks in front of the business and disseminating a flyer the suit identifies as libelous, the complaint says." The flyers smeared the business as a "racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination" and encouraged people from the community to take their business elsewhere.
The claim that the bakery had a "long account of racial profiling" was undermined by a police department investigation that found that "of the 40 adults arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s Bakery in the past five years, only six were African American."
The Washington Free Beacon notes that Raimondo may be involved in another, unrelated lawsuit alleging that the leadership of the American Studies Association's nominating committee, on which Raimondo served, "manipulated procedure to push through an anti-Israel academic boycott in December 2013."