“Hold Gibson’s accountable” and “Gibson’s is racist,” chanted a throng of about 150 Thursday outside the West College Street bakery.
Oberlin College students, bearing signs saying “No justice, no peace” and “End racial profiling,” protested for hours and called for a boycott of the 131-year-old business. While they took care not to block the entrance, they did hurl expletives at the few customers who entered.
“This is a racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination,” said literature provided by OC dean of students Meredith Raimondo, who stood with the crowd.
It alleges bakery owner Allyn Gibson choked a 19-year-old man until others forced him to let go. The account claims Gibson chased the man across College Street and onto Tappan Square, tackling and restraining him until police arrived.
It says the alleged victim and two friends were racially profiled at the scene but does not explain how. Police arrested the three but did not read them their rights, students claimed.
Organizers said the 19-year-old was charged with robbery and his friends were charged with assault. No Oberlin police report had been filed at the time of the protest.
Trey James, a worker at Gibson’s, said the 19-year-old was actually 17 and had attempted to shoplift alcohol. He denied the choking allegation, saying he was an eye-witness to the Tappan Square portion of the incident.
“When you shoplift you get arrested. It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is or your religion or your ethnicity. If you shoplift, you get busted,” he said.
While protesters were outside, James said he received many calls of support from longstanding customers.
Police drove slowly past the college students’ protest several times but did not stop. Around 1 p.m., scanner traffic indicated they were taking a watchful stance and were prepared to respond if the event proved anything but peaceful.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Oberlin News-Tribune Fists and signs are raised by Oberlin College students outside Gibson’s Bakery on West College Street. Protesters were angry at owner Allyn Gibson after an Oct. 9 incident they say turned violent.