Coalition of homeless advocates to stage sleep-in protest at Antioch City Hall once they obtain a permit

The original flyer distributed by organizers who say a new one will be created once they obtain a permit.

Tried to keep it secret from councilmembers; one organizer reconsidering participation in effort

By Allen Payton

A flyer being distributed via social media by a group labeling themselves Antioch Homeless Advocacy Coalition said they were going to be holding “One Homeless Night” at Antioch City Hall Tues., July 9 through Wed. morning, July 10.

The effort is to “protest the City of Antioch’s policies and their lack of a shelter or warming/cooling center for homeless residents.” It was to run from 10:00 AM Tuesday through 10:00 AM Wednesday.

The event flyer also includes a message “Please keep this event private. Do not post on social media. We want our city council members to be surprised.” However, city officials had already been made aware of the effort and received a copy of the flyer days before The Herald received it.

According to the flyer, the coalition includes three organizations listed on the flyer, Facing Homelessness in Antioch led by Nichole Gardner, Urban Upreach, which was formed in Antioch in March by Ashley Mahan, and Shower House Ministries, which is led by Ken Rickner and provides free showers to the homeless in Antioch. (See related article). (NOTE: An earlier version of this article had the incorrect organization of the same name based in Seattle for the Antioch based Facing Homelessness, Inc. The Seattle organization’s name and website is what appears first in an online search.)

9:30 PM UPDATE: However, the protest has been postponed because the group has chosen to obtain a city permit from to hold the event.

Instead of responding to questions emailed to them (see below) via email or phone call, Gardner and Mahan chose to create a video response and post it on YouTube by Gardner and Mahan, “We’re here to let everybody know in the community that we weren’t trying to be sneaky or not let everybody know what exactly we’re doing,” said Mahan. “We didn’t pull the permit for the protest so we were having it on a different day. That’s why it (the flyer) wasn’t released. Not that we were trying to do something to not let everybody know about it or to piss off the government.”

“We already know that the city had our protest flyer. It’s not new to us,” she continued. “So, to inform everybody we just changed the date. And when we have the protest, we’ll let everybody know what we are doing.”

“It was no news to the city council, what we were going to do, as we sit on the Homeless Task Force,” Mahan stated.

However, Rickner wasn’t aware they had changed the date or were going to pull a permit to hold the protest.

Gardner’s group, according to their Facebook page, “was created to bring awareness for those living in our city of Antioch that are without shelter and other basic needs. Want to get involved? We will let you know when we will be feeding the homeless in our city. We need all the help we can get. So if you are able to volunteer to cook, help pass out food, pick up donations, etc. please do so. We will also be taking donations such as clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, toiletries, head wear, shoes, and other basic necessities. Its [sic] time for us to face homelessness in our city and do something about it.”

The mission statement for Urban Upreach, published on their Facebook page reads, “By providing resources and support to people experiencing homelessness, we will empower them to feel worthy of dignity and become more self-sufficient. We believe treating all people with kindness and respect is paramount to eradicating homelessness once and for all.”

Each of the organizers were asked the following questions in an email at 1:54 PM:

What are you hoping the City Council will do in response to your effort?

Did anyone in your coalition attend any of their recent budget sessions and ask the Council for funds for a shelter or warming/cooling center for homeless residents to be included in the budget?

How many members are there in the Antioch Homeless Advocacy Council? When was it formed?

Also, is Facing Homelessness the same organization that is based in Seattle? This last question was answered by a search on Facebook.

In addition, a phone call was made to Mahan looking for comment and for answers to the questions.

6:00 PM UPDATE: So far, Rickner has been the only one to respond, saying he doesn’t think anyone spoke during the council budget hearings, asking for money. He also said he didn’t know his organization’s name was going to be used on the flyer.

“I’m a homeless advocate and just like going out there and doing it,” he said. “I’m part of the city’s Homeless Task Force and I want to work with the city, not against them, and I don’t think getting at odds with them is effective, at all.”

“I’m rethinking participating with this event, the way they’re doing it,” Rickner added.

While neither Gardner nor Mahan responded to the email, phone call, they did post comments on the Herald Facebook page below the posting of the original article. Additional requests to them to respond to the questions were made by this writer in comments on Facebook. As of the update those attempts have been unsuccessful.

In addition to the email to the organizers, a separate email was sent to Mayor Sean Wright, Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts and Councilman Lamar Thorpe who serve on the city’s Homelessness Task Force, and City Manager Ron Bernal at 2:00 P.M. with the following request and questions:

Looking for any comments you might have about the event mentioned in the attached flyer.

Are you aware of the Antioch Homeless Advocacy Coalition, Facing Homelessness or Urban Upreach?

Other than Ken Rickner of Shower House Ministries, do you know or have you spoken to any of the organizers?

Have any of their representatives spoken at the task force meetings or during the recent budget hearings, to ask for funds [for] a shelter or warming/cooling center?

An auto-response email message was received from Bernal that he will be out of the office until Tuesday, July 9.

Motts responded by phone call while the writer of this article was unavailable. When reached for comment later, Motts said she will respond tomorrow, as she is out for the evening.

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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One Homeless Night at City Hall 7-9&10-19


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