The Oberlin Review

Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Forgive and Forget

Booker C. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

November 15, 2019

 Legally, there will be one winner and one loser in the lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against Oberlin College. But on all other levels — reputation, emotional, historical — Gibson’s, the College, and the City of Oberlin will suffer from the devastating effects for generations to come. Are there no prayers or people capable of getting the two sides and their reinforced, high-powered lawyers to settle their differences privately? The answer some may give is “no.” The bridge for a settlement has crumbled. As the dispute heads to an appellate court, to hope for a miracle is similar to asking that a long-anticipated Super Bowl game not be played and opting instead for a coin-flip to determine the winner. A...

College’s Appeal in Gibson’s Case Misguided, Avoidable

David Marwil OC ’70

November 8, 2019

 I urge the College to refrain from appealing the Gibson’s case. Instead, Oberlin must turn inward and reflect on what led to this unfortunate state of affairs in the first place. The behavior of the College, by which I mean students and administrators alike, revolves around the false premise that Gibson’s was a racist institution. The College’s actions towards Gibson’s were arrogant and mean-spirited throughout. My sense is that Gibson’s would not have filed suit if the College had treated them well, even if they had already suffered some losses. My experience as a physician is that, in most cases, patients do not sue unless they are disgruntled, even if the physician makes a mistake. Certainly, Gibson’s had...

Koppel’s Gibson’s Coverage Provides Biased Perspective

Booker C. Peek, Professor Emeritus of Africana Studies

November 8, 2019

 Ted Koppel struck out with the bases loaded this past Sunday on CBS News’ “Sunday Morning.” The segment focused on the nearly $50 million lawsuit filed by Gibson’s Bakery against Oberlin College; Koppel’s question was, “What is the fair price for a family’s good name?” Koppel was easily one of America’s most respected, and perhaps most admired, TV journalists over the past 40 years because his approach to find the truth was undergirded by the fiercest resolve to be fair and balanced — until now. Informally known as “Grandpa Gibson,” Allyn Gibson, who is around 90 years old, should not have to pass away being forever remembered as a racist. Nor should his son, David, have to spend any time fig...

Gibson’s Bakery Files Cross-Appeal

Gibson’s Bakery Files Cross-Appeal

November 1, 2019

Gibson’s Bakery has filed a cross-appeal in the ongoing lawsuit that the bakery’s owners brought against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. This cross-appeal comes after the College’s Oct. 8 decision to appeal the June jury verdict finding the College and Raimondo responsible for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress related to a series of 2016 student protests against the bakery. The jury initially awarded the Gibsons $11 million in compens...

Gibson’s Verdict Appeal Filed

Anisa Curry Vietze, News Editor

October 11, 2019

On Tuesday, Oberlin College announced it would appeal the June jury verdict that sided with Gibson’s Bakery and against the College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo. The appeal comes after the College was denied a retrial at the county level last month. The College currently faces a $25 million judgment after a Lorain County jury found the College and Raimondo responsible for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress following a student-led protest against the bakery in November 2016. To represent them at the appellate level, the College has hired a legal team that includes Washington, D.C. First Amendment attorneys Lee Levine and Seth Berlin, as well as Cleveland appellate a...

Community Healing More Important Now Than Ever

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies

September 20, 2019

 Almost two years ago, in 2017, I wrote you pleading for Oberlin College to seek an out-of-court settlement with the Gibson family (“Gibson’s Links Black People to Anti-Semitism,” The Oberlin Review, Dec. 1, 2017). But nothing seemed to take place until it was announced in April that efforts had failed and that the case was going to trial this past May. It did, and the jury ruled in favor of the Gibson family. Last week, I wrote again hoping that Oberlin College would appeal the local jury’s decision to award millions of dollars to the Gibson family (“College Should Respect Any Future Appeal Decision,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 13, 2019). But after receiving more information, I urge the College to tr...

Retribution, Restitution, and Race in Ohio

Ava Zuschlag, Contributing Writer

September 20, 2019

 Five years ago, Tamir Rice is shot and killed. In the aftermath, several things happen. The two officers who responded to the call, who fired the shots, are temporarily reassigned to more menial positions. Tamir’s family files a wrongful death suit against the officers and the city of Cleveland. Almost a year and a half later, “in an effort to reduce taxpayer liabilities,” the city agrees to pay the Rice family a six million dollar settlement.  This year, a thirty-minute drive away from Cleveland, Gibson’s Bakery wins damages for defamation. After a shoplifting incident ended in violence, student accusations of the shop owner’s racism negatively affected the business. In the judgement, the jury awards ...

College Should Respect Any Future Appeal Decision

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies

September 13, 2019

 Oberlin College should pay the Gibson family a lot more than the almost $25 million that the very fine Lorain County jury awarded if it is a fact that former President Marvin Krislov and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo aided and abetted the student demonstrators to engage in activities intended to bankrupt the Gibson family because the Gibsons are racist. Oberlin College should appeal this verdict. Replays in sports give officials a chance to make sure they made the right call. When the action is shown 10 or 20 times slower from every possible angle, sometimes the original decision is left to stand, and sometimes it is reversed. No matter the final call, some remain unhappy, while others ar...

Gibson’s Case Trivializes Actual Racism

Nicholas Isherwood, OC ’81

September 6, 2019

Like many alumni, I have followed the legal battle concerning Gibson’s Food Mart & Bakery with interest and horror. Decades of Oberlin students have enjoyed Gibson’s tasty doughnuts and other treats, and have come to know the family. I am not at all surprised that the jury ruled in favor of Gibson’s. Both the experience of Oberlin students and the facts of the case indicate that Gibson’s is not a racist business. Simply put, the shoplifters were caught and when the police arrived, they were assaulting Mr. Gibson.  Polarized race relations at Oberlin are not a new phenomenon. When I was a student in the late 1970s, my political organization, The Moderate Caucus, circulated a petition opposing the creatio...

Jury Rules For Gibson’s, Assigns $44 Million in Damages

Jury Rules For Gibson’s, Assigns $44 Million in Damages

June 14, 2019

Editor's note: Due to the scope of national media attention, the Review took the extraordinary step of covering the Gibson's verdict outside of normal publication dates. Because of limited staff capacity, the Review does not moderate comments during the summer, and letters to the editors in response to any article will be reviewed for publication in the fall. Please direct any questions to [email protected] The Lorain County jury overseeing the trial between Gibson’s Bakery and Ob...

Gibson’s Lawsuit Will Go To Trial

Gibson’s Lawsuit Will Go To Trial

April 26, 2019

After 18 months of negotiation and discovery research, the lawsuit that Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart brought against Oberlin College and Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo could go to trial early next month, unless a settlement is reached in the next week. Gibson’s filed the suit in November 2017, accusing the College and Raimondo of libel, slander, interference with business relationships, intentional interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of...

“Grape”’s Editorial Reflects Dogmatism, Outrage Politics of Oberlin Students

Jackson Zinn-Rowthorn, Contributing Writer

September 21, 2018

Oberlin students, I’m glad to say, have retreated a few steps in recent years from the sort of divisive, outrage-fueled politics that would routinely erupt into conflagrations of bad discourse and unsolvable conflict on campus. This paradigm of activism flourished under Obama, but it doesn’t play as well in the current political era. The 2016 election offered something of a reality check. Suddenly our righteousness didn’t look so noble; our dogmatism didn’t look so pure. We are a little more open-minded now, and a little less reactionary. The campus feels calmer and more welcoming. It’s been a gratifying transformation to watch. So, I was disheartened when last week The Grape chose to publish a flippant and br...

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