In 2016, an African-American student at Oberlin College was caught attempting to steal two bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery—a local family business founded in 1885—and fled. When the shopkeeper pursued him, the student and two friends, also black, assaulted him, beating him badly. College administrators then joined students in accusing the bakery of “racial profiling.” Christine Rosen writes:
[The] simple shoplifting incident prompted the Black Student Union, College Democrats, and the student senate to launch a protest and boycott outside the store. . . . At the protest, students hurled expletives at customers, entered the store, and waved signs saying, “End Racial Profiling.” And not only students; Oberlin’s dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, attended the protest and passed out leaflets that read, in part: “This is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”
The school did briefly stop doing business with Gibson’s. . . . Oberlin officials even suggested to local businesses that if students were caught shoplifting in the future, the school should be called, not the police, so that the thieves could be given one free pass for their actions.
In 2017, after taking a significant hit to their profits because of the protests, Gibson’s decided to hold Oberlin and its officials accountable for their kowtowing to student protestors. The bakery filed a civil lawsuit against the school (including Raimondo) for “libel, slander, interference with business relationships, interference with contracts, deceptive trade practices, infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and trespass.” This week, a jury agreed with the bakery’s claim that the school and its officials had acted irresponsibly and awarded Gibson’s $11 million in damages. . . .
During the trial, Gibson’s lawyer argued, “When a powerful institution says you’re racist, you’re doomed.” As anyone who has witnessed the mob mentality among campus progressive activists can attest, student mobs only thrive because administrators allow them to do so. With their courtroom victory in Ohio this week, the Gibson family put college officials across the country on notice that people unfairly victimized and libeled by campus activists are done acquiescing to the mob’s demands.
Recall that in 2016, when Joy Karega-Mason, an Oberlin professor, was revealed regularly to have posted on her Facebook page anti-Semitic cartoons and conspiracy theories of the most lurid kind, the school’s administration was reluctant to take action, and administrators like Meredith Raimondo rushed to her defense.
Read more on Commentary: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/politics-ideas/at-oberlin-a-tipping-point/