To those on the outside, they may just seem like doughnuts.
But for those in the Oberlin community, they may very well represent the healing process of a divided community.
After suspending its standing baked goods order with Gibson’s Bakery on Nov. 14, Oberlin College has resumed the daily order, according to an email sent to students, faculty, and staff from the college’s president, Marvin Krislov.
“The arrest on Nov. 9, 2016, of three Oberlin College students at Gibson’s Bakery caused members of the Oberlin community — locally and elsewhere — to voice a range of opinions and assumptions based on information reported by individuals and organizations of varying reliability,” Krislov said. “Particularly challenging was the role of outsiders to Oberlin who made open threats of violence against members of this community on all sides of the dispute.”
The anger stemmed from an incident at the West College Street bakery, where police said employee Allyn Gibson was assaulted by Jonathan Aladin, a 19-year-old Oberlin College sophomore who allegedly tried to shoplift two bottles of wine, then fled.
Gibson said he chased Aladin across the street to Tappan Square, where Aladin knocked him to the ground, punched him and threatened to kill him, according to a police report. Officers said they found Gibson on his back, being attacked by several suspects.
Students Endia Lawrence and Cecilia Whettstone are also accused of punching and kicking Gibson and were charged with misdemeanor assault. The cases against each are pending.
The incident led to hundreds of students from all ethnic backgrounds protesting outside Gibson’s for two days, accusing the store of racially profiling black people such as Aladin. Counter-protests by mostly white people in support of Gibson’s occurred in response.
“Shortly after the incident, the college temporarily suspended its standing baked goods order with Gibson’s in an effort to deescalate a complicated and very tense situation involving our campus community, our downtown businesses, local residents, and law enforcement,” Krislov said. “Since the initial incident, the college has communicated actively with all parties in an effort to contribute to a restorative resolution for all involved.
“To that end, following discussions with Mr. Gibson and local community and spiritual leaders, the college has chosen to resume its business relationship with Gibson’s as a good-faith effort in hopes of positive resolution for everyone affected by our community explores concerns and questions about how we live, learn, and thrive together.”
A spokesperson from the college added there was no contract between Oberlin College and Gibson’s for baked goods, but instead the college had a standing order with the bakery that was suspended after the November events.
Scott Mahoney can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @sm_mahoney on Twitter.