Earlier this month, a video went viral on social media showing a white man aggressively using a hose on a homeless woman sitting on a public sidewalk. After the clip was shared, the man was identified as San Francisco art gallery owner Collier Gwin.
According to San Francisco District Attorney Brook Jenkins, Gwin was arrested on Wednesday (January 18) on a misdemeanor charge. “The alleged battery of an unaccommodated member of our community is totally unacceptable. Mr Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions,” the prosecutor said. Footage of the arrest of the gallery owner in police custody also circulated on the Internet. The original video was recorded on January 9 and showed Gwin repeatedly demanding that the woman “move around” in front of his shop. He casually crossed his legs while leaning against a railing while directing the pressurized jet of water at the woman’s torso.
Last week, Gwin, owner of the Foster Gwin Gallery in San Francisco’s Financial District, sat on CBS News trying to apologize and clear his name. “What they saw is very unfortunate,” he shared during the interview. “I feel terrible, not just because I want to get out of trouble or something, but because I tried so hard to help this woman,” he added. Since the video went viral, many in the community have been calling for the gallery owner to be punished. In a clip posted to Twitter, an angry citizen went to Gwin’s gallery and demanded that the businessman hose him down to see what action would follow.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed compared Gwin’s use of the hose to what protesters experienced in the 1960s. “When I saw it, all me [could] think about [was] what happened during the civil rights movement,” Breed told reporters last week. “Unfortunately, this comes at a time when African Americans were fighting for our rights to be seen as equal in this country. Even then, law enforcement and others used water hoses to stop protesters. And it kind of takes us back to that time. And no other human should be able to do that to another human, period. As far as I’m concerned, it’s assault.”
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