Ohio bakery on brink of bankruptcy as Oberlin College sits on millions it legally owes them for racist smear

The owners of Gibson’s Bakery in Ohio are begging Oberlin College to pay them millions in restitution they were awarded in a libel case involving false accusations of racism before the 137-year-old business goes under.

(Video Credit: WKYC Channel 3)

The college is allegedly worth $1 billion. Lorna Gibson, who is the widow of the former owner of Gibson’s bakery, asserts the school owes $36 million after losing its defamation case in connection to a shoplifting incident that occurred at the bakery involving three black students in November 2016 according to the Daily Mail.

Gibson wrote an opinion article in the Daily Mail that follows the Ohio Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday it would not hear an appeal on the $25 million judgment against the liberal arts college. $6 million is owed in legal fees and another $5 million in interest as well, totaling $36 million. It appears that Oberlin College is playing out the legalese clock so the business will indeed go under.

The false accusations of racism basically destroyed a healthy, thriving business according to Gibson. The “shelves are bare,” few customers visit the bakery, staff has been laid off, and the family is mired in debt.

“If I got the money from the college, I wouldn’t buy a house, or go on vacation, or leave Ohio. I would replace the compressors for the refrigerators and replace the fryers and proofers that we use for our dough. I would pay off the mortgages on my properties that I’ve taken out in the past few years. I’d hire back employees and ramp up production,” the widow noted.

“If the money doesn’t come through within the next couple of months, I’ll be forced to declare bankruptcy and shut the doors of Gibson’s for good,” she stated.

Both of the original owners, Allyn Gibson and his son, David Gibson, are now deceased. They sued Oberlin College in November of 2017, charging that the business was defamed and harmed by the actions of the school.

That lawsuit came a year after David Gibson’s son, also named Allyn, ran down and tackled a black male student for allegedly shoplifting two bottles of wine. Two black female students jumped in to stop Allyn from detaining the boy. They reportedly beat him badly. All three of the students were arrested. They pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.

After the students were arrested, protests took place outside the bakery, and flyers were handed out telling people not to shop there because it was a racist establishment. A number of those flyers were handed out by an Oberlin College vice president and a dean of students, who accused the Gibsons of a long track record of racial profiling and discrimination.

They called us racists on their bullhorns … college administrators were there too, handing out flyers,” Lorna Gibson recounted. “They blocked the door and screamed at customers who elbowed their way through to the counter. A few came in to record videos on their phones of our customers.”

Making things even worse was a Student Senate resolution that condemned the Gibson family for being racist. It was emailed to all students and then displayed at a school student center where it remained for a year.

Oberlin College officials proceeded to prohibit the campus food provider from buying cookies, bagels, and other items from Gibson’s, further impacting the small business.

“Our world was turned upside down and has never been set right,” Gibson stated in her piece. “Calling us racists wasn’t just wrong, it was deeply painful to our core.”

She also said that the school refused to “retract its baseless claims that we were racist,” protests were ongoing, and the bakery had to lay off half of its staff and cut its hours over the allegations. Gibson also contended that the boycott still continues and students have been “brainwashed to hate us.”

I still haven’t seen a penny from the school,” Lorna Gibson commented. “The college, which has about a billion dollars’ worth of assets at its disposal, still refuses to pay.”

Her husband David Gibson died in November 2019 at age 65 after battling pancreatic cancer. His wife wants “to honor his final wish” and “keep the doors open, no matter what.”

Allyn Gibson died in February at age 93. He was a “fixture in the community” who sat in front of the store and talked with the locals. Following the protests, “no one would talk to him. It broke his heart,” Lorna Gibson wrote.

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