Chicago Police Department maintains "black site" for illegal detention and torture

Homan Square is the Chicago Police Department's "secure site" where people as young as 15 are detained without charge and without access to counsel, subject to beatings that result in head wounds, and, in one case, death.

People detained in Homan Square are not listed in any database and can't be located by lawyers or family members. At least one notorious Gitmo torturer, Richard Zuley, formerly worked at Homan Square for the Chicago PD. The guards who stand at the doors to Homan Square refuse to identify themselves. Although most of those detained and abused at Homan Square are poor people, mostly of color, it has also been used for political detention of protesters.

Three attorneys interviewed by the Guardian report being personally turned away from Homan Square between 2009 and 2013 without being allowed access to their clients. Two more lawyers who hadn’t been physically denied described it as a place where police withheld information about their clients’ whereabouts. Church was the only person who had been detained at the facility who agreed to talk with the Guardian: their lawyers say others fear police retaliation.

One man in January 2013 had his name changed in the Chicago central bookings database and then taken to Homan Square without a record of his transfer being kept, according to Eliza Solowiej of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid. (The man, the Guardian understands, wishes to be anonymous; his current attorney declined to confirm Solowiej’s account.) She found out where he was after he was taken to the hospital with a head injury.

“He said that the officers caused his head injuries in an interrogation room at Homan Square. I had been looking for him for six to eight hours, and every department member I talked to said they had never heard of him,” Solowiej said. “He sent me a phone pic of his head injuries because I had seen him in a police station right before he was transferred to Homan Square without any.”

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site' [Spencer Ackerman/The Guardian]


Notable Replies

  1. I find that the most disturbing news stories about how the United States blatantly violates their own constitution usually come from news agencies based in a different country. That to me is equally as disturbing as this story.

  2. Shuck says:

    One of the consequences of the overall loss of investigative journalism in the US. It's downright terrifying.

  3. Yeah, I would have told you yesterday that I couldn't be surprised by anything a US police department would do, but a local police force with their own black site? It's hard to get your head around. Killing people, beating people, leaving people naked at the edge of town - none of that would surprise me because it's all actions taken by individuals who can be written off as "bad apples" if their actions come to light. But having a site sort of makes bureaucrat involvement hard to deny. I guess they figure they are just totally immune to any consequence.

  4. Well, I understand that most US news media are always worried that they'll lose "access" if they report things like this. I don't know why it's worth not reporting the truth in order to keep "access" to people who use you to spread their lies, but I assume it involves money.

    To whatever extent this report is true, lots of people need to be prosecuted, and even more people -- probably including some Chicago-based so-called-journalists and the relevant editorial staff -- need to lose their jobs. It's unlikely that any of that will happen, but it should.

  5. At this point, exactly what separates the reality of the modern-day United States from the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war?

    Is there anything that was used as propaganda back then to criticise the eastern block, that the west isn't doing now?

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