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AFRICAN AMERICANS IN PITTSBURGH continue to stage protests outside Pizza Milano following a video showing an employee violently attacking a Black woman, Jan. 12. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)

Freezing cold on the outside, emotions boiling hot on the inside.

It’s been five days since a video reportedly showed Pittsburgh resident Jade Martin being beaten by 41-year-old Pizza Milano employee Mahmut Yilmaz. The video, which has been viewed over a million times, shows Yilmaz headbutting Martin, wrestling her to the ground, then banging her head against the restaurant floor repeatedly, before other Pizza Milano employees finally step in.

“If you cannot respect our Black lives in your business, then you can’t have one in our neighborhood. Period.”

NICKY JO DAWSON

African Americans in Pittsburgh, obviously disturbed by the video, have staged protest after protest outside the pizza shop’s doors on Fifth Avenue in Uptown. They’ve convinced regulars of the restaurant to no longer dine there. They’ve made national headlines, echoing a clear message, according to protest lead organizer Nicky Jo Dawson: “If you cannot respect our Black lives in your business, then you can’t have one in our neighborhood. Period.”

MAHMUT YILMAZ, 41, was fired from Pizza Milano after his violent encounter with customer Jade Martin, Jan. 12. (Photo provided by Allegheny County Communications Department)

Though the temperatures were in the single digits, the number of protesters were in the hundreds, making their presence felt.

“We as Black women are tired of being subjected to brutality by these White men in these neighborhoods that we built up,” Jo Dawson told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Jan. 13. “You’re taking our Black dollars to build your businesses and then turn around and brutalize us and nobody’s holding you accountable for it. We’re sick of this. This is our neighborhood, you’ve built up an establishment in a Black neighborhood and you expect to get our money, and in return you’re going to brutalize us, and arrest us, and hospitalize us, and then expect for us to patronize you.”

Video of the first protest, held Jan. 13, a day after the incident, has been viewed nearly 25,000 times on the New Pittsburgh Courier’s official Facebook page. Shares of the video are over 800.

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