In what was described as a move "that will likely send shock waves through the local LGBT community", veteran Chicago-based LGBT activist Rick Garcia has been terminated from his job as public policy director at Equality Illinois.
Executive Director Bernard Cherkasov reportedly fired Garcia on Thursday but Garcia showed up for work on Friday and was removed from the offices by Chicago police officers, reports Windy City Times.
"Cherkasov confirmed the news during a conversation with Windy City Times. He said that during a Dec. 17 conference call with "key stakeholders to outline an agenda for Equality Illinois with our priorities for 2011 ... we all announced that Rick Garcia is no longer employed with Equality Illinois." Cherkasov added that "we will begin a new search process right after the holidays."
"Garcia's contribution to the advancement of gay rights in Illinois is undeniable. He was a key figure in the passages of both the amendment of the state's human-rights act that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as well as the civil-unions bill that recently passed through the Illinois General Assembly.
Garcia says he may pursue litigation to reclaim his position. He described the police incident that happened on Friday:
"Well, I went to the office. I walked in. He looked shocked that I was there. He did not think that I was going to come in. And then he said, Well, we all have to leave to go to the Christmas party. I said, 'Well, have fun.' 'Well, we can't leave you here, in an unlocked office.' He says, to the founder, the founder of that mother-fucking office. 'We can't leave you in here with an unlocked door.' I said, 'Well, call the police.' And he did, and four police officers came, and of course they all know me from the neighborhood. You know, it's all really nasty and it doesn't have to be nasty. And he's making it nasty."
In addition to his work on the statewide bills, Garcia lead the fight for the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance. Garcia has sometimes clashed with other activists and "is known for a sometimes brash style of delivering his message," adds ChicagoPride.com, which cites sources that say the "separation has been contemplated for a period of time and was not a surprise to board members."