In February, the Guardian reported stories about the Homan Square, the Chicago Police Department's off-the-books black-site, where (mostly black and brown) suspects are denied counsel while being brutalized into forced confessions.
Now, Spencer Ackerman is back with news of the Guardian's spectacular lawsuit against the Chicago PD, in which they are seeking transparency about Homan Square. According to the initial tranche of documents, the total victim-count for the site totals over 7,000, spanning August 2004 to June 2015. They were overwhelmingly, disproportionately black and latinamerican.
The Guardian story includes biographies of some of the Homan inmates. They vary in their fine detail, but over and over again, they describe people arrested, denied counsel, subjected to harsh interrogation, and held in secrecy in a "police station" that doesn't even have a phone number.
The 7,000 figure is probably low, as it reflects the number of survivors who were held there and subsequently charged; the CPD has not released figures on those who were released without charge.
Chicago attorneys say they are not routinely turned away from police precinct houses, as they are at Homan Square. The warehouse is also unique in not generating public records of someone’s detention there, permitting police to effectively hide detainees from their attorneys.
“Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there. You can’t, ever,” said Gaeger. “If you’re laboring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”
The difficulty lawyers have in finding phone numbers for Homan Square mirrors the difficulties that arrestees at the warehouse have in making phone calls to the outside world. Futterman called the lack of phone access at Homan Square a critical problem.
Homan Square revealed: how Chicago police 'disappeared' 7,000 people
[Spencer Ackerman/The Guardian]