By now, everyone who follows the news is aware of Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado, which is currently before the Supreme Court. LU contributor Benny Huang has a must-read article out this morning explaining why the plaintiff, Christian baker Jack Phillips, is likely to lose his fight for the right to refuse to bake gay wedding cakes on the grounds that they violate his religious beliefs.
Halfway across the country, a second lawsuit has been filed by a second bakery. This time the flash point is another liberal bugbear: racial profiling.
The case turns on a November 2016 incident at Gibson’s Bakery, a family-owned business near the campus of Oberlin College in the Ohio city of the same name. Three black students at the university were caught stealing wine from the bakery by a white employee, whom they proceeded to punch and kick.
The three men were arrested and pleaded guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing. As part of a plea deal, they admitted that their actions were wrong and affirmed that the store had exhibited no racist intentions in attempting to subvert the theft.
Then Black Lives Matter stepped in, and everything went south. The students recanted their admission, insisting instead that the altercation had arisen from their attempts to purchase the alcohol using a fake ID and that the racism was very much a prime motivator behind the shopkeeper’s reactions.
The Oberlin Student Senate passed a resolution claiming that Gibsons had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment,” an asssertion that fails entirely to gibe with the century-old store’s reputation in the liberal community of 8,300.
Roger Copeland, a retired Oberlin professor who still lives in the city, told the Associated Press:
I can understand why people were looking for some outlet for their frustration, but it’s just counterproductive to bend that anger towards a small family business that to my knowledge is not guilty of the sort of racial profiling that people accuse it of.
The “frustration” Copeland refers to is explained earlier in the article:
Many believe the timing was right for the conflict to boil over; the arrests came the day after Donald Trump won the presidential election, electrifying students who had long heard suspicions of racial profiling at Gibson’s.
In the year since the foiled robbery and witch hunt that followed, Gibson’s has suffered massive financial losses, prompting the store’s owner, David Gibson, to file a lawsuit accusing the school and its dean of students of slander.
Notes Campus Reform:
According to the lawsuit, Oberlin not only paid for the defense attorney of one of the men involved in the case, but even hired a limo to shuttle him to a meeting with a “high profile criminal defense lawyer.”
Additionally, the lawsuit accuses [Dean Meredith] Raimondo of participating in the demonstration herself, and handing out flyers that accused the bakery of being a “racist establishment with a long account of racial profiling and discrimination.”
Finally the lawsuit alleges that Oberlin ended its decades-long practice of purchasing the bakery’s edible wares in the wake of the controversy, adding that administrators offered to restore business relations provided Gibson’s agreed not to pursue criminal charges against future “first-time shoplifters” and instead notify the school.