Rochester Restaurant Offered BLM Protesters Water, Regrouping Space Hours Before Being Vandalized

Just hours before a Rochester, New York, restaurant was swarmed and vandalized by protestors demonstrating against the death of Daniel Prude, the owners invited them in for refreshments and offered them a place to "regroup."

Videos recorded during the Friday night Rochester protests show a few dozen people throwing chairs, destroying tables and chasing off patrons. Several thousand people took to the streets of downtown Rochester Friday in the latest protest over the asphyxiation death of Prude, 41, while in the custody of local police earlier this year. Chants of "Black Lives Matter" and calls to "shut down restaurants" are heard in several videos depicting glass shattering and tables being broken at Swan Dive on Alexander Street as well as the nearby Ox and Stone restaurant.

Organizers of the Friday protests were seen yelling at Swan Dive patrons who were sitting outside eating when the establishment was swarmed by protesters.

But just hours before Friday's destruction and videos showing scared diners fleeing Swan Dive, the restaurant's Instagram page offered the establishment up as a place for protesters to "hang" and "regroup."

"Pssst. The Back Bar is back in business TONIGHT and every Friday + Saturday. Seating is limited and spacious. Open til 1am P.S IF YOU ARE OUT TONIGHT TO RALLY AND NEED A SPOT TO HANG, NEED WATER OR JUST TO REGROUP WE ARE OPEN FOR WHATEVER YOU NEED," reads Swan Dive's Friday afternoon Instagram post.

i was at swan dive eating dinner outside when this happened.

lots of feelings but — ultimately, this wasn’t productive, and a local small business didn’t deserve destruction. especially not one that posted a few hours before offering water, etc. to protesters.

— Leah Stacy (@leahstacy) September 5, 2020

One woman who claimed to be a patron of Swan Dive Friday night when the protests turned destructive joined several supporters of the demonstrations in condemning the violent acts. "Ultimately, this wasn't productive, and a local small business didn't deserve destruction. Especially not one that posted a few hours before offering water, etc. to protesters," tweeted Leah Stacy, who shared a video of people destroying the outdoor seating area of the restaurant.

"Looks like they took full advantage of your offer!" remarked one commenter on the restaurant's Instagram post.

Newsweek reached out to Swan Dive Saturday afternoon for additional remarks about the events of Friday night and their reaction to the destruction shown in the videos.

Protests in Rochester were ignited after video of Prude's interaction with police was released September 2 showing officers pinning him to the ground and using a controversial head cover to prevent him from spitting. His death has since been ruled a homicide and is under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office.

One individual who took part in the protests Friday evening, Narada Riley, told the local Democrat and Chronicle that several fellow demonstrators attempted to stop people from destroying property and chasing off diners at Swan Dive.

"I don't agree with seeing white families sitting out and eating and people running up on them and giving them a hard time," Riley told the newspaper. "That's not going to help the situation at all. But I can't control the crowd."

swan dive rochester protests destroyed
Just hours before a Rochester, New York restaurant was swarmed and vandalized by protesters, the owners invited the demonstrators in for refreshments and offered them a place to "regroup." Screenshot: @swandiveroc | Instagram