Oberlin College on trial after students target bakery in ‘social justice warfare’


Oberlin College’s student social-justice activism came at a high cost to a local bakery, and now the business wants Oberlin to pay.

The famously progressive Ohio college is on trial over allegations that it defamed Gibson’s Food Mart and Bakery, which became the target of mass protests, an economic boycott and accusations of racism after three black Oberlin students were arrested in November 2016 for shoplifting.

The trial, which began Thursday in Elyria, Ohio, has implications that extend beyond the reputation of a small-town doughnut shop. Also at issue is whether universities that encourage political activism should be held responsible for the harm done by overzealous student demonstrators.

“This case is significant because businesses and people on the receiving end of social justice warfare mobs rarely are able to fight back,” said Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson, whose Legal Insurrection blog has covered the case closely.

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