British newspaper The Guardian has uncovered an off-the-books interrogation facility, run by the Chicago Police Department, in which Americans are kept in secret, shackled and beaten and without access to family or attorneys.
The Guardian describes the facility as “a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square”, which has “long been the scene of secretive work by special police units”.
Local attorneys and one protester who was kept in shackles for about a day in Homan Square have told The Guardian that detainees are denied access to basic constitutional rights. (Scroll down for the video report.)
1. British newspaper The Guardian has uncovered an off-the books interrogation facility, run by the Chicago Police Department, in which Americans are kept in secret, shackled and beaten and without access to family or attorneys. (Photograph: Phil Batta/Guardian.)
Citing people “familiar with the facility” who spoke out after The Guardian’s investigation into Chicago’s police abuse at Homan Square, the newspaper lists the following alleged police practices:
- Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
- Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
- Shackling for prolonged periods.
- Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
- Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one person has been found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and was later pronounced dead, The Guardian reports.
2. The Guardian describes the facility as “a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square”, which has “long been the scene of secretive work by special police units”.
One person, Brian Jacob Church, known as one of the “NATO Three” protesters, was held and questioned at the Homan Square facility in 2012, after a police raid.
Police officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, while denying him access to an attorney. They then sent him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged. Church described the experience:
Homan Square is definitely an unusual place. It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.
Homan Square is reported to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage. Its focus is on Americans, most often poor, black and brown, according to The Guardian.
However, unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square has ever been booked. No one who’s ended up inside the facility, including witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans, seems to have a public, searchable record to indicate where they where, which is what happens when someone is booked at a precinct.
3. Local attorneys and one protester who was kept in shackles for about a day in Homan Square have told The Guardian that detainees are denied access to basic constitutional rights.
Attorneys and relatives insist that there is no way of finding the detainees’ whereabouts. Those lawyers who have tried to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even though their clients are kept in custody inside. Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes said:
It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place — if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there.
After The Guardian published its findings, the Chicago Police Department issued a statement insisting, without giving any specifics, that nothing illegal is taking place at what it referred to as a “sensitive” location, home to undercover units. The statement read:
CPD [Chicago police department] abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility. If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property. There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.
However, numerous attorneys and one Homan Square arrestee have denied these claims.
4. The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden “black site” — A Guardian report.
Read more: The Guardian.
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