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The Oberlin Review

Students Call for Gibson’s Bakery Boycott

Students+chant+across+the+street+from+Gibson%E2%80%99s+Bakery+in+Tappan+Square+Thursday+evening.+Protests+ran+from+around+11+a.m.+until+Gibson%27s+closed+at+11+p.m.
Students chant across the street from Gibson’s Bakery in Tappan Square Thursday evening. Protests ran from around 11 a.m. until Gibson's closed at 11 p.m.

Students chant across the street from Gibson’s Bakery in Tappan Square Thursday evening. Protests ran from around 11 a.m. until Gibson's closed at 11 p.m.

Bryan Rubin, Photo editor

Bryan Rubin, Photo editor

Students chant across the street from Gibson’s Bakery in Tappan Square Thursday evening. Protests ran from around 11 a.m. until Gibson's closed at 11 p.m.

Update: Since this article was originally written, President Marvin Krislov and Dean of Students and Vice President Meredith Raimondo have issued an official response to Student Senate’s resolution ceasing all support for Gibson’s Bakery, financial and otherwise. The text of the response can be found here.

Chants of “No justice, no peace” reverberated across campus from early morning into late last night as hundreds of protesters lined West College Street, calling for a boycott of Gibson’s Bakery.

An altercation between Gibson’s employee Allyn Gibson and College sophomore Elijah Aladin Wednesday evening led to the Oberlin Police Department arresting Aladin and classmates Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone, all of who are Black, in what many students are saying is a case of racial profiling.

The police booked Lawrence and Whettstone for assault before they were released on $1,000 bail, but Aladin was transferred to Lorain County Jail prior to his arraignment hearing at Oberlin Municipal Court this morning for one count of robbery.

Discrepancies between eyewitness and police reports have led to conflicting versions of the incident, but what remains abundantly clear is that the scuffle between Aladin, 19, and Gibson, the white son of store owner David Gibson, escalated quickly and had moved outside of the store to across the street when officers arrived at the scene.

According to the incident report filed by the Oberlin Police Department, Gibson thought Aladin was attempting to shoplift two bottles of wine by concealing them under his jacket when he confronted him. The report almost entirely consists of information from interviews with David and Allyn Gibson.

“Allyn stated Aladin attempted to leave the store, so Allyn took out his phone and attempted to take a picture of Aladin and that’s when Aladin slapped Allyn’s hand and phone and caused it to strike Allyn in the face,” the report reads.

However, College junior Andy Goelzer called that account “completely false” and said that “there was no conversation before Allyn attacked him.”

Instead, Goelzer said that Gibson used force immediately on Aladin, who they say was standing in line to pay instead of attempting to leave.

“He was literally just standing there, and Allyn Gibson comes running from the back of the store screaming, ‘Shoplifter!’ and grabs him,” Goelzer said. “The kid is like, ‘Get off me, I’m not doing anything.’ At this point, people in the store are starting to yell, ‘Get off him’, ‘What are you doing?'”

Both the police report and the eyewitnesses agree that Gibson then pursued Aladin to the back of the store when an altercation ensued as Gibson attempted to physically detain Aladin and two bottles of wine ended up on the floor.

The police report details that Aladin allegedly threw the bottles of wine on the floor, but eyewitnesses said that the bottles could have fallen from shelving that was knocked over during the struggle.

“They could’ve been in his shirt,” College junior Andres Gonzalez said. “They could’ve just as easily been from the aisle. A lot of the merchandise was knocked over in him pushing this guy into the aisle.”

The police report and the eyewitnesses sharply disagreed about who the aggressor was.

“Allyn stated he never threw a punch at Aladin and just kept attempting to grab him to keep him from hitting him and leaving the store,” the report reads.

In contrast, Goelzer stated that they called the police out of concern for Aladin’s safety.

“At this point, a few people in the store start running over to try to pull him off, and there’s like four people trying to pull him off and no one can manage to break him free, and he’s hitting this kid and putting him in a chokehold,” Goelzer said.

Aladin allegedly managed to break free and ran out to the sidewalk, where Goelzer stated that they saw Gibson tackle Aladin again. At this point, witnesses say Whettstone and Lawrence physically tried to free Aladin by hitting Gibson.

“They kind of rolled together — you couldn’t tell who was who,” College first-year Yue Yu said. “I [saw] the two girls start to kick onto — I couldn’t see who.”

Aladin, allegedly pursued by Gibson, then ran across the street to Tappan Square, where the struggle resumed, with Whettstone and Lawrence joining again, according to witnesses.

College junior Angie Vaaler described the fight as a “ball of people,” and College junior Jake Berstein said that it seemed like there were punches coming from both sides. At that point, police arrived at the scene and broke up the scuffle.

“As officers approached the area, Sergeant [Victor] Ortiz, and Officer [Raymond] Feuerstein both stated they observed Allyn Gibson lying on his back with several individuals kneeling over him punching and kicking him with several other individuals in the immediate area,” the report reads.

But according to Goelzer, Whettstone and Lawrence were trying to free Aladin, not injure Gibson.

“They were trying to pull him off of the kid, so they might’ve had his arms, but they were trying to pull him off the kid,” Goelzer said.

The police quickly detained Whettstone and Lawrence and placed them in separate police cars. The officers then arrested Aladin and interviewed David and Allyn Gibson.

According to Oberlin Police Lieutenant Michael McCloskey, store employees have a legal right to detain shoplifters, although he noted that the department does not recommend that employees do so because it often leads to situations escalating.

“The Ohio Revised Code does allow store proprietors or employees of those stores to detain and arrest shoplifters,” McCloskey said. “If they have probable cause to believe that someone is trying to take items from the store, they can legally, in a reasonable manner, detain them for a length of time until police get there to arrest the suspect.”

McCloskey also said that Aladin was charged with robbery, a felony, instead of shoplifting, a misdemeanor, because of the physical altercation. Robbery in the third degree, which is how the incident will likely be categozied, can carry a sentence of one to five years in prison.

Gonzalez said Gibson was in the wrong, regardless of whether Aladin was shoplifting. This echoed the sentiment of many students, who said that the situation was rife with racially fueled undertones.

“If he had been shoplifting, that’s not a reason to chase him and throw him into the ground and beat him up,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez worried President-elect Donald Trump’s victory would embolden racist behavior.

“People are afraid that this is how it’s going to be,” Gonzalez said. “For me, I’m Puerto Rican. As a person of color, it’s f—ing scary.”

However, to long-time Gibson’s employee Trey James, who is Black, race had nothing to do with it.

“If you’re caught shoplifting, you’re going to end up getting arrested,” James said. “When you steal from the store, it doesn’t matter what color you are. You can be purple, blue, green, if you steal, you get caught, you get arrested.”

According to a flyer distributed by protesters, this incident was far from Gibson’s first instance of alleged racial bias.

“This is a racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination. Today we urge you to shop elsewhere,” the statement read.

Student Senate also passed a resolution yesterday stating, “the Students of Oberlin College immediately cease all support, financial and otherwise, of Gibson’s Food Market and Bakery.” The group also called for President Marvin Krislov, Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, other administrators and general faculty to publicly condemn Gibson’s.

Allyn Gibson could not be reached for comment.

This morning at Dascomb Hall, a sign replaced the bagels and donuts from Gibson’s that are usually served at breakfast, reading, “Our apologies for the inconvenience.”

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14 Comments

14 Responses to “Students Call for Gibson’s Bakery Boycott”

  1. GOD on November 12th, 2016 12:50 AM

    Dont make me come down there.

    Just a townie Reply:

    What is specifically the history that is racist of Gibson’s Bakery? Why hasn’t the dean supplied evidence of this racism to the public captivated by the protest? Supposedly in this week alone two white shoplifters were racially profiled as well. Does anyone realize when you have small profit margins and someone steals from a small business what it does to your bottom line? Why would a person put bottles of wine under their shirt to pay for them? Haha. Maybe if it had been one bottle of wine and he’d attempted to buy two, they wouldn’t have been taking a hit and karmically everyone would be even and this wouldn’t have happened, but as it is racial profiling would be if aladin hadn’t been attempting to steal and was apprehended. I’d bet anything half these students didn’t even vote and don’t have the guts to protest what in their eyes is an unqualified president. I know for a fact these people who can afford a 60k+ a year education tried to solicit free food from local restaurants for the protest. What are you teaching them oberlin? Liberty and justice don’t come free but we can all agree they should and work towards that ideal. Doesn’t mean food and wine come free. Protesting a decent small local family business that will hopefully end with a sizable libel suit settlement when one could be protesting trumps election is pathetic. I just hope oberlin doesn’t lose charming convenient gibsons for a Starbucks after this fiasco.

  2. Brandon Gilbert on November 12th, 2016 2:54 AM

    As a black male who was born in Oberlin and has known the Gibsons all my life, I think I can say quite clearly that the store owned by said family is not a bastion of white supremacy and racist fervor. I actually consider Allyn to be a friend, and during my last few years in Oberlin before I moved away, he showed nothing but kindness to me. Whether it was offering me a lift if he saw me walking out in the cold, or simply just to say hello and ask how I was doing.

    When my father died years ago, it was the Gibsons who kindly brought several trays of food to our house during my families grieving. When you suddenly lose your father and your trying to process this, get everything in order with the funeral and the estate, etc., to have a local business owner just show up to your door with food to show support – that’s not racist, that’s kindness.

    It was also at Gibsons, that I was to have my first job in highschool. I had to get up at 5 am, or so, to go and help make donuts on Saturday mornings, so, that didn’t last too long. But, there was no animosity about my departure, and I don’t think white supremacists hire black kids to work in their shops. I have rented an apartment from them on more than one occasion, and they were always very fair. It is my belief that if an individual dislikes blacks, they will do all that they can from renting a place to them – I’ve experienced it before – but the Gibsons were, on the contrary, very welcoming.

    I would also like to make it known that I am aware of another instance in which a WHITE male was attempting to steal cash from the Gibsons store and Allyn physically detained him until the police arrived. If someone is taking from you, this is what I would do, myself. I don’t care if the person is purple, red, pink or rainbow colored. And as the above article mentions, the OPD says that this is within the law.

    As someone who was born in Oberlin and actually worked for the college for over 10 years, I eventually resigned to move away and travel. A small part of this was because I was beginning to question what was going on within the school. While there are many parts of Oberlin I love, I have to say that this suffocating and overwhelming need to label everyone as something and put everyone into their own box as different and against you, is something that I do not miss. And it makes me livid to see my friend being labeled very harshly in front of the world, by individuals who want to hide behind a veil of anonymity.

    I will continue shopping at Gibsons, whenever I return to Oberlin to visit. And I will continue to do my best to see humans as humans.

    Brandon Gilbert

  3. Kelly Hufnagle on November 12th, 2016 7:22 AM

    What IF this has nothing at all to do with race or the election, just simply a shoplifter who broke the law? Would all of the protestors be willing to even entertain the possibility of this or minds already made up?

  4. Colleen Salsbury on November 12th, 2016 10:01 AM

    Why doesn’t everyone just chill out. The police will, if they haven’t already, look at the tape and determine who was responsible. Once that info is made public then people have a chance to respond appropriately. Innocent until proving guilty…anyone remember that. This country is so fractured in this country right now. Why don’t we try to repair it instead of fueling the fire with unsubstantiated accusations!

  5. Manuel on November 12th, 2016 3:37 PM

    The protest was really far from the truth. Gibson’s store is not a racial establishment, besides Allyn is the last person could be a racist in Oberlin. I am latin, btw, and he defended me from racist people, I think students are freak out with the f… president-elect Donald Trump’s victory, and they just feel to do something.

  6. G H on November 12th, 2016 6:38 PM

    I wonder if there is any video evidence. I read the police report and this article; there are many differences between the two. I wonder why the other Oberlin Students did not talk to the the police or maybe they did and it was omitted; Anyway, a complex matter and everyone should chill until the proper legal investigation is complete through the court of law.

  7. Rich on November 13th, 2016 7:28 AM
  8. Barb Smith on November 13th, 2016 12:01 PM

    Just to clarify. Aladin was not stealing wine from the store but instead was standing in line to purchase the wine. He is 19 years old, something doesn’t add up.

    Get your “@$$” back to class! Mom

  9. Anita Strohs on November 13th, 2016 3:21 PM

    As we all have fallen victim to untrue gossip where we trusted someone who did not know all the facts, so have the Oberlin students. But, I have employed these students as interns and they are bright and honorable people. Once they know the true facts of this story, I can promise you, that Th ey will do the right thing and stop the boycott and hold the three fellow students accountable. A few student at Oberlin will show their leadership ability and show that they can admit they were duped and move on. I have faith in my Oberlin students and they will do the right thing. Give them a little time.

  10. Jeff Lin on November 14th, 2016 11:56 AM

    OC Students are going to drive Gibson’s out of business. A staple of the community, a family business that has served and supported fellow Oberlinians for generations. If OC Students have their way, this family business will be gone soon. Doors closed, only to be replaced by a Panera Bread. Is that what you want? Of course, it makes no difference to the students who will be gone in 4 years, mostly likely never to return to this community.

  11. Stu Pidasso on November 14th, 2016 9:03 PM

    The guy is a sophomore. In all likelihood he is not 21. If he was in line to buy the wine, how?

  12. Arafat on November 16th, 2016 8:14 AM

    I’m a knee-jerk liberal and if I feel something ought to be boycotted then that is all that matters.

    I don’t bother with facts or information I just have this feeling, and my feelings and intuition is good enough for me.

    Blue Lives don’t Matter. Just ask me and I’ll tell you it’s so.

  13. Jim Kudrin on November 17th, 2016 4:36 PM

    Robbery is a felony no matter the race , color , or creed…….. it is wrong and the law says it is so.

Established 1874.
Students Call for Gibson’s Bakery Boycott