The owner of an art gallery, seen in a now-viral video spraying water from a hose onto an unhoused woman, refuses to apologize and instead defends his actions.
The cell phone video was captured by Edson Garcia, co-owner of Brioche Cafe, while he was on his way to deliver a catering order shortly after 6 a.m. on Monday.
“I turned to the side and saw the guy pouring water to the lady,” he exclaimed, astonished.
Garcia, who has seen the homeless woman in the North Beach neighborhood before, occasionally asks her not to block the doorway to his café and has never found her to be aggressive.
He goes on to say that, given the weather, the man’s actions appeared especially cruel.
“It was cold and raining outside. ‘OK, I’ll move, I’ll move!’ she screamed. It’s not fair to see people acting in such a way.”
Dion Lim of ABC7 found the man with the hose, art gallery owner Collier Gwin, who admitted to his actions.
“I totally understand what an awful thing that is to do, but I also understand what an awful thing it is to leave her on the streets,” Gwin said.
Gwin claims that numerous attempts to assist the woman have been made in recent weeks, and that other nearby business owners have complained about her presence blocking the sidewalk and entryways. He claims that the police reports are useless.
“We called the cops. There must be at least 25 police calls. They spend two days in a homeless shelter, two days in jail, and then they are released back onto the streets.”
Gwin claims she refused to move and resisted his assistance in moving her belongings down the street on Monday, so he sprayed her down as a last resort.
“This woman is in a terrible situation. She’s completely insane.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen methods to discourage crowding.
Sprinklers were installed in St Mary’s Cathedral in 2015 to prevent sleeping in doorways. Residents of Clinton Park installed boulders to keep the homeless community at bay in 2019.
While others in the area describe the woman in this video as a bother, homeless community advocates say that while service can be slow at times, there are better ways to handle these situations.
Laketha Pierce works for the Coalition to End Homelessness. She says the nonprofit is working on a program that will send specialists to help those in crisis when they are requested. In the meantime, she has these suggestions.
“Consistently dialing 311 and researching various mental health services in San Francisco. Some locations offer emergency services to help people in crisis.”
Pierce condemned Gwin’s actions, saying that no matter how frustrated he was, the behavior was unacceptable.
“What if that had been my mother or aunt? It’s heartbreaking to see it happen to anyone.”
Despite the threats and constant phone calls for interviews, Gwin refuses to apologize.
“I find it hard to apologize when we’ve had no help with the situation.”
Edson, on the other hand, makes this appeal to the community.
“You want people to respect you, you have to respect them.”
The incident occurred outside of Barbarossa Lounge, which is located adjacent to the art gallery. Arash Ghanadan, the lounge’s co-partner, claims they are not affiliated with Gwin and issued this statement in response to threats and negative public reaction.
“Barbarossa Lounge has been made aware of a video that has started to circulate on social media and was shot outside our small business. Barbarossa has nothing to do with the inhumane actions depicted in the video. Following an investigation, it appears that the actions are those of a nearby business owner. We are extremely disappointed in this individual’s actions and do not condone them. We have been informed that a formal and media investigation is being conducted. Barbarossa strives to support our local community and to treat all passersby and patrons with dignity and respect.”