Activists call for continuing protests and boycott of Pizza Milano after alleged assault | Pittsburgh City Paper

Activists call for continuing protests and boycott of Pizza Milano after alleged assault

click to enlarge Activists call for continuing protests and boycott of Pizza Milano after alleged assault
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Protesters outside Pizza Milano in Uptown on Jan. 15
On Jan. 12, an employee at the Uptown pizza restaurant, Pizza Milano, was caught on video apparently headbutting a woman and tackling her to the ground. The employee, Mahmut Yilmaz, has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and one charge of simple assault. The woman, Jade Martin, sustained injuries and was taken to the hospital following the incident.

The night of the incident, a video was posted on Facebook, and the video went viral. Activists, Pittsburgh residents and community leaders responded over the weekend by protesting in front of Pizza Milano. Those protests continued on Jan. 15, as a group of 50 protesters, gathered in front of Pizza Milano, calling for stronger actions against Yilmaz.

“We will not stand for any abuse of our women,” said Pittsburgh resident Nicky Jo Dawson to the crowd.

Dawson said groups protesting are calling for Allegheny County officials to avoid making a plea deal with Yilmaz, and are hoping to see him convicted and sentenced. Dawson was also calling for harsher charges against Yilmaz, including attempted murder.

“There was nothing simple about that assault,” said Dawson.

In addition to requesting additional charges against Yilmaz, Dawson is calling for ongoing protests of Pizza Milano and for groups and residents to boycott the pizza restaurant.

And some have already taken heed of that request. The labor-coalition group Pittsburgh United, a self-described frequent customer of Pizza Milano, announced it is boycotting the restaurant. It issued a  statement: “Pizza Milano does not deserve our business, we will encourage our partners to take the same stance. … We stand united with our neighbors, partners and allies in protesting race and gender based violence against Black women, femmes and girls.”

Three Duquesne University students attended the Jan 15. protest and also said they will no longer be patronizing Pizza Milano. Freshman Evan Neff said he was upset by the video and that he stands with the community of protesters. Andres Albornez, also a freshman, said of Pizza Milano, “If you offend the public, then you have to accept the consequences.”

Pittsburgh City Paper attempted to reach out to Pizza Milano for comment, but the line was busy on multiple occasions.

Update: A statement from Semsi Yilmaz, owner of Pizza Milano, was sent to CP that indicates Mahmut Yilmaz has been terminated from Pizza Milano. Semsi Yilmaz wrote: "Pizza Milano has a 20-year history of being part of Pittsburgh’s Uptown community. That’s why what happened this past Friday is so disturbing to me, to our customers and to our employees. After reviewing the videotape, I immediately terminated the manager’s employment and condemn his actions in the strongest way possible. Regardless of what led up to the exchange, what he did goes against our policies and my beliefs. It’s not the way we run our business, and our customers need to know that. We have cooperated fully with the police investigation from the beginning and will continue to do so.”