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Oberlin College to cover $36 million to bakery owners who said these were falsely accused of racism

Oberlin Collegeand Conservatory can pay a $36.59 million judgment to an area bakery that filed a defamation lawsuit, claiming the bakery’s owners were falsely accusing of racism after three Black students were arrested.

The faculty tried to fight the judgment but an Ohio Supreme Court in August ruled that it could not use up the school’s appeal. Oberlin College said in a statement Thursday that it could not pursue the problem against Gibson’s Bakery.

“We have been disappointed by the Courts decision. However, this will not diminish our respect for regulations and the integrity of our legal system,” the faculty said in a statement.

The private liberal arts school in Oberlin, Ohio, said the judgment wouldn’t normally impact “academic and student experience.”

Gibson's Bakery
Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio, in 2017.Dake Kang / AP file

The case is due to the arrests of students Jonathan Aladin, Cecelia Whettston, and Endia J. Lawrence on Nov. 9, 2016.

In accordance with a 2017 defamation lawsuit that Gibson’s Bakery filed contrary to the school, Aladin tried to “steal wine or elsewhere illegally obtain wine” with fake identification. The bakery includes a small section that sells wines and beer, in accordance with Rolling Stone.

Aladin was charged with robbery, the lawsuit states. Whettston and Lawrence were each charged with first-degree misdemeanor assault, the lawsuit states.

Following a arrests, Oberlin University students, deans and professors protested outside the bakery. “Accusations of racism were leveled at Gibson’s by a few of the protestors,” the suit states.

The lawsuit claims that the band of protesters passed out flyers that stated the bakery “is really a RACIST establishment with an extended ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”

“Today we urge one to shop elsewhere in light of an especially heinous event relating to the owners of the establishment and local police,” the flyer read, based on the suit.

Oberlin College had also stopped employing the bakery, based on the lawsuit. Prior to the 2016 incident, the bakery provided goods to the faculty by way of a third-party vendor.

In February 2017, the faculty resumed business with Gibson’s Bakery however the establishment said it had already suffered “a severe and sustained loss,” based on the lawsuit.

The bakery stated in the suit that its employees were threatened and that their car tires have been punctured due to the school’s claims, and that owner David Gibson’s home was damaged on several occasion.

The three students who have been arrested later pleaded guilty to misdemeanors. Aladin read a statement in court admitting to attempting to purchase alcohol with fake identification and said he didn’t believe what taken by employees were racially motivated.

“Once the clerk recognized the fake ID, I struggled with the clerk to recuperate the fake ID,” Aladin said, based on the lawsuit. “The clerk was within his rights to detain me, and I regret presenting a fake ID so that they can obtain alcohol. This unfortunate incident was set off by my try to purchase alcohol.”

Lawrence and Whettston told the court they intervened through the struggle “on Aladin’s behalf,” the lawsuit states. They said the employees were only “attempting to prevent an underage sale.”

Oberlin College said in its statement that the problem has been “painful for everybody.”

“Hopefully that the finish of the litigation will start the healing of our entire community,” the institution said. “We value our relationship with the town of Oberlin, and we anticipate continuing our support of and partnership with local businesses once we work together to greatly help our city thrive.”

Gibson’s Bakery didn’t immediately return a obtain touch upon Friday.

Minyvonne Burkeis a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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