New details on the War on Terror in the US reveal a secret, off-the-books interrogation facility run by the Chicago police department.
According to a former Chicago public defender and current dean of Valparaiso University Law School, Andrea Lyon, the facility is “analogous to the CIA’s black sites.” Lyon said, “And in that way the police prevent their family and lawyers from seeing them until they could coerce, through torture or other means, confessions from them.”
As one man, Brian Jacob Church, a former detainee recalled, “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
Officers held citizens, shackled, inside the facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, where they were unable to be found by their family or attorneys.
Among other paraphernalia, the facility used surveillance, military-style vehicles, and a metal cage. The brunt of the Chicago police terrorism is brutalization directed toward Blacks and Latinos.
Some accounts of this Chicago police abuse included:
• 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.
Reports also showed that at least one person detained in Homan Square, a man named John Hubbard, was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead.
Essentially, the facility gave police in Chicago unrestricted license to torture American citizens. Police withheld citizens’ whereabouts–not officially booking them in the system when they were picked up by police–tortured citizens, and denied detainees access to their attorneys.
Homan Square’s black sites are far from the first allegation the Chicago police department has faced with respect to its record of brutality.
Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, who was assigned to Chicago’s South Side in 1972, was convicted, along with men under his command, of torturing more than 100 African American men into giving false confessions.
Burge was believed to have inflicted upon African American men torture techniques he learned during his service in the Vietnam War.
Though even after his conviction for harming African American men for over a decade, for which he only served a 4.5-year prison sentence, Burge still draws a pension from the city of Chicago, calling into question the city’s tolerance of terrorism against African American citizens.
At present, this gestapo-style torture is treated lightly by the media with an “I don’t care” attitude. US media is mum on this story, an atrocity that should be running on the front page of every major news outlet.
Unfortunately, it takes a publication from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, a British newspaper in The Guardian to print more honest stories about American life.
The existence of a secret interrogation and torture facility like Homan Square run by the Chicago police department is a threat to the basic constitutional rights of American citizens.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said:
“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”
Since news of Homan Square became public, protests have been underway to officially shut down the secret facility.
Criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project, Tracy Siska, pointed out that a vital problem that leads to such gross inhumanities is the condoning of injustices committed by American government and law enforcement that happen outside of the United States. The crime is that Americans falsely believe that those unlawful practices will not somehow filter into national boundaries.
“The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects. They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices. That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”