Video showing a man with a hose spraying a person sitting on an SF sidewalk

A San Francisco art gallery owner has admitted he fired water from a garden hose at a homeless person on the sidewalk, an episode that sparked outrage after it was captured in a video that bounced around the Internet this week.

In an interview Tuesday with The Chronicle, Collier Gwen — owner of the Foster Gwen Gallery on Montgomery Street in the posh Jackson Square neighborhood — admitted to spraying a homeless woman with water after an encounter in which he said she had delivered trash cans outside his home. Gallery and refused to move.

A San Francisco resident admitted he fired water from a garden hose at a homeless person on the sidewalk, an episode that sparked outrage after it was captured in widely circulated video this week. Video: Rachel Swan

“I said you have to move; I can’t clean up the street,” Gowen said, describing a confrontation late Monday morning with a woman he later identified as Cora. ​​“She started shouting aggressive things, spitting, yelling at me…at that point She was so out of control… I hose her down and say move, move. I will help you. “

A chef from a nearby bakery documented the encounter and posted the footage online shortly thereafter. By mid-afternoon on Tuesday, the video had 10.7 million views on Twitter and had been shared thousands of times. It shocked and amazed many observers, some of whom called the filmed work “awful” and “disgusting”. The owners of Barbarossa Lounge, a business clearly identifiable in the video, issued a statement condemning Gwin’s behavior and deeming it “inhumane”.

“I don’t care how frustrated someone is, that’s not how human beings treat other human beings,” Aaron Peskin, chairman of the board of supervisors that includes the Jackson Square neighborhood, said Tuesday night. “It’s unreasonable, it’s abuse.”

Peskin said his office had tried to help the woman, whom he knew as “Q,” for several years. He said she was well known in the neighborhood.

Lawyers for the ACLU and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights issued a statement, asserting that San Francisco
Homelessness policies
Create conditions of abuse like those shown in the video.

“Violence like this one takes place in the context of government, society and the press participating in the scapegoating of the unhoused population, treating them as if they were objects to be swept away, imprisoned and harassed,” the statement read.

In the Chronicle interview, Gwen complained that the woman behaved erratically and had a tendency to leave her belongings on the sidewalk. He referred to himself as a “hero” who tried to help her by letting her sleep in his doorway for several days, calling social services and reaching out to police officials in an effort to get help for her. But he said the situation only got worse.

He said the women refused to leave the area, were often belligerent and often turned over rubbish bins which he then had to clean up.

“You know, spraying it isn’t the answer,” he said, “but spraying it was something that woke her up, and it calmed her.” “So am I sorry? I’m only sorry that… my way of helping her hasn’t done anything immeasurably.”

Department representatives said in a statement that police officers from Central Station arrived shortly after Monday afternoon, responding to news of a possible attack. The statement said the officers “met a male suspect and a victim who was involved in a dispute.” Police said they interviewed both individuals and they refused to “take further police action.” The officers filed a police report. Peskin said police are investigating the case.

In addition, workers from the San Francisco Crisis Response Team arrived and provided services to the woman, who was referred for follow-up assistance, according to the release.

Gwen walked with a Chronicle reporter on Tuesday to where the woman was — near his gallery, on Washington Street. There, someone was huddled in the doorway, covered in blankets. She looked like the same woman from the video.

Addressing her as “Corra,” Gwen clicks on the bundle of blankets.

He said, “Talk to me, please.” The person who showed up asked to be called “Sir”, then yelled at Gwen that she was planning on calling a lawyer. When the Chronicle reporter approached, she waved and said, “Have a good one, sir.”

Minutes later, when Gwen showed the viral video of Michael Imperial, co-owner of the nearby Tricolore Caffee & Pizzeria, Imperial winced and put his head in his hands. Although Imperial said he was aware of the woman in the video, and that she had caused disturbances in the street, he seemed repulsed by Gwen’s actions.

“Collier!” shouted Imperial. “This is not good!”

The viral footage was the latest in a series of local videos depicting controversial interactions between San Francisco residents and the homeless that have put the city in the spotlight.

Monday’s incident was not the first time a resident or an institution doused a homeless person with water. in 2015,
Sprinklers installed in wide doorways
From St Mary’s Cathedral people trying to camp there satiated, leaving piles of blankets, clothes and other rubbish behind.

Google reviews of the Foster Gwin show fell to an average of one star on Tuesday morning, with dozens of users online pointing to the video.

Edson Garcia, the chef at Brioche SF, posted the video and later told The Chronicle that he was doing deliveries through the bakery’s catering business when he witnessed the Khartoum incident. Recording started immediately.

He said, “I was shocked.” “It’s crazy how people can act. I know that lady.”

Shortly after filming the incident, Garcia posted the video to TikTok under BriocheSF, though the original TikTok video has since been deleted. However, the video was re-posted under the viral Twitter account called Clown World.

Garcia said he hoped the video would speak louder than it was capable of at the moment, since he was in the car during the recording and the light had already turned green.

Legal experts said the spray could amount to battery under California law, where spitting or throwing a drink at someone is illegal, for example. Prosecuting such a case without the victim’s assistance is possible but difficult.

State law defines battery as “the intentional and unlawful use of force or violence against another person.” It is often charged along with assault, which is defined as “an unlawful attempt, combined with present capacity, to commit violent injury to another person.”

Misdemeanor offenses carry a penalty of up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Attacks that cause serious injury can be charged as felonies punishable by two years or more in state prison.

Experts said that unless the spraying was accidental, the man could only defend himself by showing that he had an honest and reasonable belief that he was preventing harm to himself, his property, or anyone else, and that there was no reasonable possibility of escape or prevention. Harm only by using force.

Sally Vicciarelli, a Fresno attorney who handles assault and battery cases firmly, told The Chronicle that the video provided a clear case of battery.

“Any attempt at defense is futile, given that we have a recording of the event,” she said. We can hear her objections and mostly, his remarks after spraying the woman, ‘Hey, just move, move! He also points in another direction. His words and actions after spraying the woman show that he intended to make her move, and spraying him with water is like pushing her.”

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Bob Igleko contributed to this report.

Rachel Swan and Annie Feinstein are writers for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email:,, Twitter: @rachelswan, @annievain

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