Pittsburgh activist heading to trial after surveillance video released showing reported arson at two pizza shops

All charges against a woman who police said tried to set fire to Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue in Uptown and Cafe Milano on 6th Street downtown have been held for trial. Nicole Jo Dawson, 36, is charged with multiple counts of arson. Dawson is a Pittsburgh activist who protested outside Pizza Milano after an incident in early 2018, but there were also protesters at Cafe Milano, another downtown restaurant that is not in any way related to Pizza Milano other than sharing a name. Video was played in court Thursday that shows Dawson walking into Cafe Milano, checking around and going into a bathroom for five minutes. Watch the surveillance video in the video player above. Dawson leaves the bathroom, checks around other parts of the restaurant, then opens the same bathroom door again, and smoke can be seen in the video. Workers eventually discovered the fire in the bathroom and tried to put it out while calling 911. Dawson was flanked by nearly 20 supporters Thursday, some of whom tried to block reporters’ ability to get video of her. Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with her attorneys after the hearing. “She takes it seriously, as we all do. There could have been some serious ramifications of this. We’re all fortunate that nothing else happened. It could have been worse. Miss Dawson is certainly someone who’s very concerned about this situation,” said Al Burke, Dawson’s attorney. The attorneys at times questioned whether or not it was Dawson in the video and emphasized how none of the fires ended up being serious. The also said the district attorney did not put forward evidence that an actual incendiary device was used. Dawson’s formal arraignment is set for February 2020.

All charges against a woman who police said tried to set fire to Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue in Uptown and Cafe Milano on 6th Street downtown have been held for trial.

Nicole Jo Dawson, 36, is charged with multiple counts of arson. Dawson is a Pittsburgh activist who protested outside Pizza Milano after an incident in early 2018, but there were also protesters at Cafe Milano, another downtown restaurant that is not in any way related to Pizza Milano other than sharing a name.

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Video was played in court Thursday that shows Dawson walking into Cafe Milano, checking around and going into a bathroom for five minutes.

Watch the surveillance video in the video player above.

Dawson leaves the bathroom, checks around other parts of the restaurant, then opens the same bathroom door again, and smoke can be seen in the video.

Workers eventually discovered the fire in the bathroom and tried to put it out while calling 911.

Dawson was flanked by nearly 20 supporters Thursday, some of whom tried to block reporters’ ability to get video of her.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with her attorneys after the hearing.

“She takes it seriously, as we all do. There could have been some serious ramifications of this. We’re all fortunate that nothing else happened. It could have been worse. Miss Dawson is certainly someone who’s very concerned about this situation,” said Al Burke, Dawson’s attorney.

The attorneys at times questioned whether or not it was Dawson in the video and emphasized how none of the fires ended up being serious. The also said the district attorney did not put forward evidence that an actual incendiary device was used.

Dawson’s formal arraignment is set for February 2020.