San Francisco, CA

Video shows San Francisco man spraying water on homeless woman

Robert J Hansen

“Perfect metaphor for city’s response to homelessness,” SF public defender says
San Francisco art gallery owner S. Collier Gwin spraying hose water onto a homeless woman January 9, 2023.Photo by@ClownWorld_

By Robert J Hansen

(Sacramento, Calif.) Video footage showing a San Francisco man spraying water with a hose onto an elderly homeless woman who was sitting on the sidewalk began circulating on social media a couple of days ago.

The man is Collier Gwin, owner of the Foster Gwin Gallery which is next to the business seen in the video.

Peter Calloway, San Francisco public defender, said Gwen’s actions are a metaphor for the city’s response to homelessness.

“Absolutely disgusting. And to be clear, this is a crime. I have clients who have spent weeks or months in a cage for less. I doubt this will be investigated,” Calloway said via Twitter.

Gwin could not be reached for comment.

“Mayor London Breed’s texts to the police chief to move individuals from her view and the opinions of many wealthy residents are a hose to the face of San Francisco’s unhoused people,” Calloway said.

Also, Calloway said the city’s violent sweeps during the storm violate a court order, the constitution and basic human decency.

San Francisco allegedly carried out homeless encampment sweeps on Jan. 4, the day of the bomb cyclone storm in Northern California.

Last month, the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction halting city agencies from "prohibiting involuntarily homeless individuals from sitting, lying, or sleeping on public property," until the city has an adequate number of shelter beds.

The Coalition on Homelessness advocacy group filed its lawsuit against Mayor Breed, the SFPD and the city and county of San Francisco last September.

Zal Shroff, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said all of the defendants are responsible for the city’s homelessness crisis in large part because they do not properly coordinate with one another about their sweeps and citations. Shroff and his team collected years’ worth of data from each city agency, and he said the findings have been alarming, according to reporting by the SF Gate.

The city of San Francisco "largely" has not disputed that it's continuing with sweeps since the preliminary injunction, according to a new court filing by the Coalition on Homelessness.

The City of Sacramento also towed at least five vehicles on January4 that were being used as shelter by homeless people, the Sacramento Bee reported.

That prompted the ACLU of Northern California and more than twelve other Sacramento nonprofit groups and organizations to send a letter to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and city Councilmembers, urging them to stop sweeping and towing vehicles used for shelter throughout the storm the area is currently experiencing.

“We respectfully request that you urge City Manager Howard Chan to direct code enforcement to immediately cease towing cars and RVs used for shelter throughout this storm and its immediate aftermath unless necessary for physical safety,” the letter said. “No matter how long citations have been outstanding.”

Advocates who work directly with Sacramento's unhoused community are reporting that code enforcement is currently towing away the cars and RVs that the unhoused community uses for shelter.

Typically, when cars and RVs are towed away, our unhoused community members sleep on the sidewalk and are directly exposed to the elements, according to Sacramento homeless advocates.

According to the Sacramento Bee, nearly 200 unhoused men, women, and children died in Sacramento County in 2021.

“The 2022 count is underway. We do not want the 2023 count to be higher than its predecessors. One obvious preventative measure that will help stem the loss of lives is to stop towing cars used as shelter in inclement weather,” the letter said.

Steinberg’s office was asked to comment about the letter but has yet to respond.

“San Francisco’s cruelty toward its unhoused population is limitless,” Calloway said. “The city continues to tear down encampments and remove people under threat of police violence despite a court order that they stop amid storms so severe housed people waited hours for sandbags to prevent flooding.”

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Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Focused on holding elected officials, police and the courts accountable to the people throughout the greater Sacramento area.

Sacramento County, CA

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