District Attorney Brooke Jenkins may be sensing an opportunity to prove she can be tough not just on drug dealers and car burglars, but also on those who attack the city's unhoused in an aggressive manner.
Collier Gwin, the Jackson Square gallery owner who was seen in a viral video last week spraying a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk near his business with a hose, is now facing legal consequences for his actions. Jenkins announced Wednesday that an arrest warrant was issued for Gwin, and that he'll be charged with misdemeanor battery for the incident.
Jenkins made the announcement on Twitter, adding, "The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions. Likewise, the vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop — two wrongs do not make a right."
The alleged battery of an unhoused member of our community is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gwin will face appropriate consequences for his actions. Likewise, the vandalism at Foster Gwin gallery is also completely unacceptable and must stop - two wrongs do not make a right.— Brooke Jenkins 謝安宜 (@BrookeJenkinsSF) January 19, 2023
That statement leaves open the possibility that the homeless woman — who pretty clearly suffers from mental illness and was well known to other business owners in the neighborhood — could also face charges, but that seems unlikely.
Gwin told multiple news outlets last week that the hose incident was his inappropriate response to the woman, who goes by Cora or "Q," overturning his trash cans on the sidewalk for the umpteenth time.
Gwin said, "You know, spraying her’s not the solution, but spraying her was something that woke her up, and that calmed her down. So am I sorry? I’m only sorry that... my way of helping her countlessly has gotten nothing done."
Gwin claimed that he had called the city's social services apparatus multiple times to address the woman and her needs, but as of last week she was still primarily sleep in doorways.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, in whose district this occurred, last week said of the incident, "I don’t care how frustrated somebody is, this is not the way human beings treat other human beings. It’s unconscionable, it’s abuse."
There was a town-hall forum on Sunday at Third Baptist Church in the Western Addition to discuss the incident, as ABC 7 reports, in which Rev. Amos Brown said, "It took us back to the days that when in Birmingham Alabama that sheriff hosed down civil rights workers back in the 60s." Brown added that Gwin himself deserved less blame than our entire society. "We must not have simplistic, reductionist thinking and planning anymore on this issue of homelessness, of unhoused people in this town," Rev. Brown said.
Gwin subsequently issued an apology via ABC 7, saying, "I completely broke. I'm not equipped or trained to deal with a longterm citywide problem like this... There's a breaking point. I have the video to constantly remind me that this is a large cross to bear."
Per the Chronicle, if Gwin is convicted of the battery charge, he faces a $2,000 fine and up to six months in jail.