Collier Gwin, owner of Foster Gwin Gallery in San Francisco, California, was arrested yesterday, January 18, and is currently facing a misdemeanor battery charge. Gwin made headlines after spraying an unhoused woman with a hose in front of his business in the city’s Financial District as she screamed for help on January 9. The incident was filmed, posted to a local business’s TikTok account, and rapidly circulated across social media, allowing Gwin to be identified by the public.

During an interview with KPIX, Gwin, 71, claimed that the woman, known on the streets as “Q,” had been situated on the block of his business for about two weeks before the incident took place. He said he was frustrated with having to clean up the messes she would leave behind, her erratic behavior scaring away his clientele, and her positioning blocking the doorway to his business on multiple occasions. Gwin added that he tried to get the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and city workers involved multiple times during the time she began occupying the block, but they were unable to provide Gwin with any permanent resolutions as they “could not forcibly remove the woman.”

“I’m out there once again cleaning her mess,” Gwin told KPIX, recounting the moments that led up to the hosing incident. “Washing it down, trying to clean up stuff, and I just snapped … I pulled the hose up higher, and I sprayed her.”

Gwin had called the SFPD for assistance that morning after he found the woman blocking the doorway to his business. The SFPD confirmed that the woman complied with their orders to move from the doorway, but hours later, they were on the scene responding to the hosing incident. Neither Gwin nor the woman sought out further police intervention at that time.

Jenkins corrected herself further in the thread, confirming that the incident took place on January 9, 2o23, not 2022.

Since the video of the incident began circulating, Foster Gwin Gallery shut down its social media presence and has been subjected to vandalism and negative review spam, while Gwin claims that he has received a number of death threats and threats of violence. The incident made waves across the Bay Area and national news, sparking heated discussions about San Francisco’s mounting homelessness crisis and the lack of resources available for ethical resolutions. Artist Courtney Desiree Morris staged a 75-minute performance outside of Gwin’s gallery, spiritually and physically cleansing the site where the hosing took place while reciting an anti-capitalist monologue sampling Bible psalms.

Last Sunday, January 15, Gwin put out an apology video through ABC7News prior to his arrest stating that he was “deeply apologetic and abhorred when [he] watched the video.” He also asked the public to look at their own breaking points that have triggered sudden overreactions in their lives.

“I’m committed to making amends and helping others,” Gwin said. “That’s what I can do, and what I will do.”

In a statement to the public, SF District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said that “the alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable.”

“Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions,” Jenkins continued via Twitter after announcing his arrest warrant and charges. “Likewise, the vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop – two wrongs do not make a right.”

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Rhea Nayyar

Rhea Nayyar (she/her) is a New York-based teaching artist who is passionate about elevating minority perspectives within the academic and editorial spheres of the art world. Rhea received her BFA in Visual...

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