SAN FRANCISCO — A video of a San Francisco art gallery owner spraying a homeless woman with a garden hose went viral Monday morning, sparking outrage.
On the TikTok account of San Francisco bakery Brioche SF, Collier Gwynn, owner and operator of the Foster Gwynn Gallery on Montgomery Street in Jackson Square, casually sprayed a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk near her home. I posted a video of it.
“What they saw was very disappointing,” Gwin said in an interview with KPIX. “I feel terrible. Not just because I want to get out of trouble, but because I’ve gone to great lengths to help this woman on the street.”
“I’m very, very sorry. I’m not going to defend you. I can’t defend you.”
Gwin has lived in San Francisco for 45 years. He said the conflict was the result of repeated attempts to help the woman after spending days cleaning up her mess and letting her sleep in the doorway. He added that repeatedly her behavior frightened his clients.
Gwin said he and other business owners in the area have called SFPD and social services more than 20 times in the past two weeks.
“I told her she needed psychiatric help,” Gwynn said. “You can see she’s pulling her hair, she’s screaming, she’s speaking in tongues, she can’t understand anything she says, she’s throwing food everywhere.”
Gwynn said on Monday that enough was enough.
“I have lived here for 40 years. I have seen a lot of homeless people. said. “But in this case, I am very upset that the city was not helped and that they too have their hands tied.”
He said police and city officials said the women could not be forcibly removed.
SFPD said in a statement to KPIX 5:
San Francisco police officers assigned to Central Station responded to the possible assault at 700 Montgomery Street. Officers arrived on the scene and met the male suspect and the female victim involved in the conflict. Officers interviewed both parties who at that point declined further police action. San Francisco Street Crisis Response her team responded to the scene, offering multiple services her options to the woman, and she was referred for follow-up. The officer prepared a police report documenting the incident.
“I’m cleaning up her mess again,” Gwynne said.
“When I saw myself in the movies, I couldn’t believe it was me. But I didn’t know what else to do. It was very frustrating.”
On Tuesday night, KPIX 5, a man confronted Gwynn over his actions and said, “You’ve dehumanized someone and I want you to shut up and go away.”
SFPD personnel dispatched to the scene quelled the situation. Gwin said he was repeatedly bombarded with death threats and targeted by vandals. He also said a man hit his windshield on Tuesday and threatened to kill him.
The Barbarossa Lounge next door, whose business can be seen in the background of the video, said it condemned Collier’s actions.
Here is the statement for KPIX 5:
The Barbarossa Lounge noticed a video that started circulating on social media. This video was shot outside of our small business. Barbarossa has absolutely nothing to do with the inhumane behavior depicted in the video. Upon investigation, the behavior was determined to be that of a nearby business owner. We are very disappointed with this individual’s behavior and will never support such behavior. I have been informed that further official and media investigations are ongoing. Barbarossa strives to support the local community and treat all passers-by and patrons with equal respect and dignity.
“It’s very disappointing that it happened in front of our small business. We’ve been through a lot with COVID hanging in the thread. It’s not affiliated with us.” said co-owner Trena Hamidi. “We don’t believe in inhumane treatment, homeless or not.”
Gwynn said that up until this moment, he acted like an “angel” because he tried to defend women.
He said he saw the woman in the video in a nearby ambulance on Tuesday and apologized directly to her.
San Francisco’s Department of Homeless and Assisted Housing told KPIX 5:
“This was a terrible act, especially for vulnerable people. There is no place for this kind of violence and hatred in our city.”