Earlier this month, a video showing a white man aggressively using a hose on a homeless woman sitting on a public sidewalk went viral on social media. After the clip was shared, the man was identified as San Francisco art gallery owner Collier Gwin.
On Wednesday (Jan. 18), Gwin was arrested for misdemeanor battery, according to San Francisco District Attorney Brook Jenkins. “The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions,” the district attorney stated. Footage of the gallery owner being taken into police custody also circulated online. The original video was recorded on Jan. 9 and showed Gwin repeatedly demanding that the woman “move” from in front of his business. He casually crossed his legs as he leaned against a railing while aiming the pressurized stream of water at the woman’s upper body.
Last week, Gwin, owner of Foster Gwin Gallery in San Francisco’s Financial District, sat with CBS News and attempted to apologize and clear his name. “What they saw is very regrettable,” he shared during the interview. “I feel awful, not just because I want to get out of trouble, or something like that, but because I’d put a tremendous amount of effort into helping this woman,” he added. Since the viral video, many in the community called for punishment for the gallery owner. In a clip posted on Twitter, one upset citizen went to Gwin’s gallery daring the businessman to hose him down to see what actions would follow.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed compared Gwin’s use of the hose to what protesters faced in the 1960s. “When I saw it, all I [could] think about [was] what happened during the civil rights movement,” Breed said before reporters last week. “This is sadly, at a time when African Americans were fighting for our rights to be considered equal in this country. Even at that time, law enforcement and others used water hoses to stop protesters. And it just kind of takes us back, unfortunately, to that time. And no other human being should be able to do that to any other human being, period. As far as I’m concerned, it’s assault.”
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