Guest Post by Becky Behrends, M.D. Vice President of Research for Michigan Citizens for Election Integrity (MC4EI.com)

How do shopkeepers and store owners protect against theft when they might be accused of racial profiling and hate crimes?

The mainstream media is replete with articles spewing forth moral outrage over racial profiling. New phrases have hit the woke lexicon, such as “shopping while black,” “driving while black,” or even “walking while black.” These all imply that people were simply minding their own business while performing mundane tasks such as shopping, driving, or walking. And it is unfortunate if they were wrongly detained for suspicion of wrongdoing.

But what about business owners who go after potential thieves, with more than just suspicion, to stop them in their tracks, and they happen to be black?

Consider what happened to the owners of Gibson Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio. This bakery has been a family-owned business since 1885. In Nov 2016, Allyn Gibson, son of bakery owner, David Gibson, chased down a black male student (Jonathan Aladin) who attempted to shoplift two bottles of wine and buy a third bottle with a fake ID from the bakery.

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Here are the details. When Aladin attempted to buy a bottle of wine with a fake ID, Allyn Gibson refused to give the I.D. back to him and pointed to two bottles of wine hidden under his coat. Gibson told Aladin and the two black female students who were with him not to leave the store. He then pulled out a cell phone to call the police. The students ignored him and started to walk out. When Gibson took a photo, the male student slapped his hand, causing the phone to hit his face. Gibson grabbed Aladin, and an altercation ensued. Aladin ran out of the store with Gibson in hot pursuit. When police arrived, they found Gibson on the ground with Aladin on top of him, and all three students were hitting him. Allyn Gibson was beaten up badly, according to his grandmother, Lorna Gibson. The police arrested all three students. Aladin was initially charged with robbery, which is a second-degree felony. The female students were charged with misdemeanor assaults. They eventually pled guilty, and after negotiations, the charges were reduced. The students were also required to pay $334 each to help cover Gibson’s medical bills after the assault.

Aladin, Lawrence, and Whettstone

Case closed, right?? Not so fast.

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Students, faculty, and administrators from Oberlin College, where the black male student was attending, started protesting outside the bakery. Even a former Oberlin College VP and dean of students handed out flyers at one of the protest events claiming that the bakery was “a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION”. Signs were carried saying “F… Gibson” and “Gibson’s is Racist.” Students were even told they could join a protest at the bakery in lieu of attending class.

College resources were used to print flyers and to provide food to the protesters. A Student Senate resolution at Oberlin condemned the Gibsons and was emailed to all students as well as posted at the school’s student center. It remained there for a year. Oberlin College officials ordered its campus food provider, Bon Appetit, to stop buying bakery items from Gibson’s.

It should be noted that the Oberlin Police Department said there was a “complete lack of any evidence of racism”. They found that out of 40 previous shoplifting arrests at Gibson’s over five years, only 6 people had been African American. When a reporter pressed for examples of racial profiling at Gibson’s, they were told that when black students enter the store, they feel as though they’re being watched. “Racism can’t always be proven on an Excel sheet”, said an Oberlin junior and vice chair of the student senate.

In 2019, the owners of Gibson’s Bakery and Food Mart sued Oberlin College, alleging libel that had caused harm to their business. A jury awarded the Gibsons $44 million in 2019, which was later reduced to $25 million. The college appealed the lower court’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. But the court declined to hear the appeal. Oberlin College thus started making payments to Gibson Bakery in Sept of 2019. Recently, the college announced they had paid the damages in full to the tune of $36.6 million with interest.

At one point in the lengthy five-year legal battle, Oberlin said they would reinstate the bakery’s contract with them if Gibson would agree to not prosecute first-time shoplifters; and that the store call school police rather than city police if shoplifters were apprehended. Gibson rightly shot back that a “free pass” policy would be unworkable and unacceptable. How would they determine if a person was a first-time shoplifter or if it was the first time getting caught? Take the word of the shoplifter? Come on!!!

The three students who were involved in the shoplifting admitted wrongdoing and that the store was not racist. However, Oberlin College has not apologized or admitted wrongdoing to the Gibson family. Go figure! You would think that college administrators and teachers should set a proper example for the young people they teach. But I misspoke. They indoctrinate rather than teach.

Seems like hypersensitive racist warmongers are looking for perceived insults and abuses wherever they can find them. In 2015, news articles quoted Oberlin students as saying that the school’s dining hall was guilty of “cultural appropriation” for serving sushi and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Nothing worse than know- it – all young people who are brown shirt imitators (i.e. Nazi Storm Troopers) acting as the Moral Police force on college campuses. Folks, you had better think twice if you decide to make tacos for dinner tonight! Wait, even Taco Bell has been condemned for “appropriation of Latinx culture as they denatured and commercialized Mexican cuisine.” Better not change up any international recipe from your grandmother! Too risky in our half-baked, woke world.

Lorna Gibson, wife of co-owner Allyn Gibson (who was the grandfather of grandson Allyn -same name- who was assaulted), said the settlement payout was “bittersweet.” Both her father and her husband, Allyn, died during the legal battle and before learning of the settlement.

Now-deceased Allyn Gibson (right)

In the Gibson-Oberlin controversy, we have another example of political correctness gone amok. A bunch of coddled “snowflakes” with a mob mentality aided and abetted by university elites.

It is hoped that the outcome of this lawsuit will serve as a message and a warning to other universities across America. It is time to stop the nonsense and start fighting back. Woke, Marxist ideology would have us believe that humans are defined as group members, not as individuals. Therefore, if a group is defined as “the oppressed,” anyone within that group is immune from accusations of wrongdoing. Conversely, if you are in “the oppressors” group, you are always in the wrong.

Nick Sandmann, in the Covington High School case against the Washington Post and 13 other media outlets, fought back with a defamation lawsuit and won.

Oberlin College played the race card and lost. As Deroy Murdock, a black political commentator, once said:
“Among the cancers devouring the American body politic, one of the most virulent involves liberals who play the race card as carelessly as children playing 52 pickup.”

Maybe a $36 million payout will start getting the horrified attention of American universities and colleges. It’s about time.

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