On Thursday, an Ohio appeals court upheld a 2019 ruling that Oberlin College must pay nearly $32 million in response to a lawsuit brought by the owner of a nearby bakery alleging that university administrators disrupted by supporting student protests Their business, these protests are based on baseless allegations of shoplifting and the racism that followed the scuffle.

The 2016 arrest of three black students outside Gibson’s bakery led to racism allegations by Oberlin students who surrounded the bakery and urged people not to enter it days after former President Donald Trump was elected.

In support of student activists, the college suspended its relationship with the long-standing bakery. A month after the incident, it stopped buying from storefronts and backed student activists who told shoppers to take their money elsewhere. At least one administrator attended the protests, where they handed out flyers accusing the bakery of a history of racism. The college’s student council passed a resolution calling for a boycott of the store, and college leaders said in an email that they were “thankful” to the students for their determination.

The students who were arrested have pleaded guilty to not being jailed, provided they state in court that the actions of the Gibson family member who kicked one of the students out of the store were not racially motivated.

Shop owners say their business has suffered and they sued the college for defamation. “We want to send a message not just to this school, but to all schools, we want you to be the adult in the room,” said Lee Plankas, the Gibsons’ lead attorney, defending their case in 2017. Claims that Oberlin saw a business opportunity to attract left-wing students. The academy disputes the allegation, arguing that much of the speech at issue is protected by the First Amendment and that the academy is not a “publisher.”

In 2019, Lorain County Judge John Miraldi ruled against Oberlin and ordered the college to pay more than $40 million in damages. That figure was later reduced to $25 million, in addition to $6.2 million in attorney’s fees.

In Thursday’s ruling, the Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals agreed with the earlier ruling. Among other things, it cited evidence that an administrator helped distribute at least one flyer accusing the store of racism. It also cited “Oberlin’s active role in publishing the Senate resolution” calling for a boycott.

in a statement to the website legal uprisingan Oberlin spokesman said in part that the academy was “clearly disappointed that the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in its ruling earlier today. We are carefully reviewing our options as we assess our options and determine our next steps.” the opinion of the court.”