Note: This story has been updated to reflect more information from a police report, court documents, and further developments.
“Hold Gibson’s accountable” and “Gibson’s is racist,” chanted a throng of about 150 last 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 written by students and provided to the News-Tribune by dean of students Meredith Raimondo.
She and other college administrators stood by to monitor the protest, said Scott Wargo, OC director of media relations.
The single-page leaflet alleged bakery owner Allyn Gibson choked a 19-year-old man until others forced him to let go. The account claimed Gibson chased the man across College Street and onto Tappan Square, tackling and restraining him until police arrived.
It said the alleged victim and two friends were racially profiled at the scene but did not explain how. Police arrested the three but did not read them their rights, students claimed.
Jonathan Aladin, 19, was charged with robbery, a second-degree felony. He was arraigned in Oberlin Municipal Court but did not enter a plea, and was released on $5,000 bond.
An Oberlin police report gives a much different version of events than the students’ leaflet.
Two reporting officers said they arrived to find Gibson “lying on his back with several individuals kneeling over him,” punching and kicking him.
When those officers tried to intervene, they were met with resistance from several people, the report said.
Store employees said Jonathan Aladin attempted to conceal to bottles of wine under his shirt. When Gibson tried to take a picture of Aladin, the latter slapped Gibson’s hand and phone, which struck the store owner in the face, according to the report.
This account says Aladin ran to the back of the store and threw the wine on the floor, and when cornered he grabbed and hit Gibson, finally fleeing the bakery with two women. Gibson pursued.
Across the street, Gibson said he was again attacked and the women joined in. At one point, Aladin threatened to kill him, Gibson told police.
Officers noted Gibson had a swollen lip, abrasions to his arms and wrists, and a small cut on his neck.
The women allegedly involved in the attack were identified by police as Endia Lawrence, 19, and Cecelia Whettstone, 18. They were both charged with assault and pleaded not guilty in their initial court appearances.
The report also said Gibson turned over a fake South Carolina ID card and credit card in Aladin’s name.
“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,” said Trey James, a worker at Gibson’s.
Thefts from the store have been on the increase lately, according to James.
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. Thursday, scanner traffic indicated they were taking a watchful stance and were prepared to respond if the event proved anything but peaceful.
Protesters returned Friday, their numbers growing and shrinking throughout the day and moving first away from Gibson’s doors and finally across the street.
A counter-protest rolled out Saturday as supporters of the bakery rallied. A “cash mob” flooded the area with cars and motorcycles, lining up to spend money on coffee and doughnuts.
A Facebook page also briefly sprang up to support Gibsons but just as quickly disappeared. It called on people to exercise their Second Amendment rights to “protect” the bakery.
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.
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