Chicago's Secret Homan Square Detention Facility Way Worse Than Anyone Thought

from the chitanimo-bay dept

Back in February, we brought you the delightful news that the Chicago police department was rather broadly known to be operating what was essentially a CIA-style black site within the neighborhood of Homan Square. This facility, located in a rough West Side neighborhood of the city, featured such practices as off-the-books detention, lawyer-less interrogations, and the occasional fatality. This place, where detainees would disappear for hours or days, seemed to be a vacuum of civil liberties and instead operated under the theory that Chicago police were rulers over all, and were owed whatever they demanded. The original Guardian link detailed a number of witness stories from those who had been detained at Homan Square, but very little information was available about exactly how widely the facility was being used.

Thanks to the Guardian’s FOIA efforts, however, we have some clarity on how much Homan Square is used and how the police detain people there, and, well, it’s extremely chilling to anyone with a modicum of interest in civil liberties.

At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal. Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.

Despite repeated denials from the Chicago police department that the warehouse is a secretive, off-the-books anomaly, the Homan Square files begin to show how the city’s most vulnerable people get lost in its criminal justice system.

I wasn’t a math major, but three out of thirty-five hundred detainees receiving visits from counsel is something like not-enough-percent. And before anyone goes off on the dangers of the West Side of Chicago or goes off prospecting for dirt on those detained, a review of the charges against many of those detained at Homan Square are laughably mundane. And that’s when charges were filed to begin with.

Documents indicate the detainees are a group of disproportionately minority citizens, many accused of low-level drug crimes, faced with incriminating themselves before their arrests appeared in a booking system by which their families and attorneys might find them.

The CPD response to this, even after the initial story broke months ago, has been that Homan Square isn’t a black site, it’s simply an undercover base for Chicago police, which, you know, you say tomato, I say black site. Either way, the city’s long-running denial maintains that all those arrested are indeed processed through the booking system and can be found by attorneys and families, except the detainees at Homan Square aren’t arrested until they’re booked at another station, so that doesn’t mean anything at all. The Guardian’s review of the records show that most of these detentions have occurred under the watchful gaze of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, most of those eventually charged with a crime were charged with anything from traffic violations to drug possession, and under ten-percent of detainees were white, despite whites making up a third of the city’s population. And these records only go back to 2004. Homan Square has been in operation since 1995.

After the facts are presented, the article includes the usual quotes from civil rights leaders who lament their own lack of surprise at all of this and who wonder blissfully if anyone will do anything about Homan Square this go around. To hell with that. If you have a brain cell to spare on civil rights for an entire city’s population, this ought to both shock you and make you very, very angry.

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Comments on “Chicago's Secret Homan Square Detention Facility Way Worse Than Anyone Thought”

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86 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Anger me? Yeah, definitely, though recently it’s all become a sort of melded chimeric outrage at this state of affairs. Shock me? No. I think I’ve reached a point where the stuff governments or cops get up to just doesn’t surprise me anymore. It could come out tomorrow that the NYPD practices blood sacrifices using poor and homeless people that they’ve kidnapped off the street, and I think my only reaction would be “well of course they are.” Though admittedly I would probably be at least a little surprised that I guessed right.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Shame there will be much lip service and nothing will change.
It didn’t happen to them, and “THOSE” people are dangerous (the police told me so) so convincing people that what happened here was illegal, immoral, unethical, and a violation of someones rights will be an uphill battle.

We are trained to fear anything different, do not question authority, look away when someone elses rights are violated because they must be bad. So there will not be much outrage until either they detain those who turned a blind eye or those who were targeted finally say enough and do the only thing that can to raise awareness, and as we have seen protests and often twisted into riots and rights free zones making things much worse and then the powder keg gets sparked…. and this just convinces those who looked away that maybe what the police did was justified to protect us from them.

They do this with our tacit approval, and until you do something beyond like something on facebook you are still allowing it to happen. Demand change, demand charges, demand that even those you are terrified of deserve the same rights you enjoy… or don’t be shocked when either side decides you aren’t worthy of rights anymore.

Stray Dawg (user link) says:

Re: rights

We the people have no more rights.you must be aware by now that you reside in a militarized police state. Swat raids. Folks dragged out of their homes in the night with no due process. America is nazi Germany all over again but eventually much worse..unarmed citizens being gunned down
by cops without probable cause, then go unpunished for out right murder under a law or ruling called qualified immunity.Good luck everybody, we let it happen to ourselves.

Ninja (profile) says:

Guantanamo inside the US for US citizens. I’ll leave this here, replace some words with muslims, black, terrorists and you have a good, updated quote for nowadays.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

Rocco Maglio (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 IRS Targeting

If you look at the numbers you will see that it was conservative groups that received the harder scrutiny. NPR provided a table of the numbers http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2013/07/30/207080580/report-irs-scrutiny-worse-for-conservatives. If you look conservative groups that were target there were 104 groups, they were asked 1552 questions in total, and 46% of the groups were approved. The progressive groups target were 7 in total, they were asked 33 questions in total and 100% were approved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You might want to review the evidence.
The IRS was doing its job, you know – looking for tax cheats. During that time period, the IRS reviewed tax exempt applications from all parties and rejected only a few, none of which were from conservative organizations.

and to claim Obama was behind a manufactured scandal is more ridiculous

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

They weren’t targeting tax cheats. They were preventing exclusively republican organizations from becoming official and able to actually collect money. This is why Louis Lerner is deathly afraid of her emails coming out. She stated it in very plain words and whoever instructed her would also be implicated. But because it is the left that benefits, the left owned media ignores and belittles the importance away.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "Unmolested democratic results"

You say that as if their are acceptable candidates on the ballot.

You say unmolested as if Americans didn’t have to vote defensively, voting for the guy they think is most likely to win against their worst nightmare.

You speak as if an elected official could actually serve the people and retain power when it’s either play ball or get ostracized by the seniors.

Our popular vote results are so molested, they’re going to be in partial hospitalization for life.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Actually you have two ‘right wing’ parties at the moment. One is far right and the other is somewhere right after it. It’s quite amusing to see people call Obama “comrade”. Of course the concept of left/right is quite obsolete but you can use it with some reservation.

There is wall street, oil, defense, pharma, agriculture etc. Your politics was replaced with a an auction system long ago.

This is typical far right behavior. And we’ve seen that much like Communism didn’t work this system, whatever it is (I like the term crony capitalism) doesn’t work either. I think something in the middle and with balances for auditing and holding the powers accountable for misdeeds will be the real solution. And by middle I don’t mean between Socialism or Capitalism but rather a mix of various ideas from both, and outside them.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

… and where they are on an anarchy/totalitarian axis is more useful …

For the person on the street, one totalitarian dictatorship is like any other. What they choose for a label is irrelevant. Nazi, Soviet, Khmer Rouge, Shining Path, Inquisition, Inca/Aztec/Mayan; all over the map idiologically, left and right, all horrible if you’re just Jody Blow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

wow… wow… hold up a second. This sounds like you actually want real democracy. Like people having a say in whatever is going on in their country.

People fought and died for hundreds of years to make democracy a thing think of the past how dare you to request it now? Well… granted it might solve most of the problems but that is not what politics is about!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Substituting one ambiguous metaphor for another does not make content.

Try this to add content:

Whenever I suggest Obama is a centrist, a lot of people…

…[engage in this peculiar behavior]

…[make this spurious argument]

I’m pretty sure that very little literal panties twisting or mouth frothing is involved. And since you can’t specify what is going on twice in a row, I’m calling shenanigans.

OGquaker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Pres. Nixon’s crash pad friend Bebe Rubozo comes to mind.
Or Pepsi’s factory in Thailand that warehoused opium, not cola.
Or then-Democrat Frank Sinatra forced to sit in the audience at the inauguration of the Eisenhower Medical Center in the mafia’s Palm Springs with those at the dedication including Spiro T. Agnew, Gov. Reagan, Mamie Eisenhower, Henry Kissinger, Gen. Bradley et al.
answers yahoo com ;
‘American corporations and Industrialists hired the Mafia to bust Unions, break up union strikes, infiltrate the Unions, and generally disrupt the Union activity. That is how and why the Mafia became involved with some of the Unions. To try to manipulate and weaken them, NOT to support them’

sigalrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Or, maybe she’s just young enough not to have lived through Reagan and Nixon’s respective presidencies at an age where their actions were meaningful.

Because in history curriculum these days, recent US history is getting a pretty hardcore white-wash, with lots of focus on what the US did that was good, leaving little to no time left over to focus on shortcomings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Really sad to see the ‘divide and conquer’ tactics that allow Honan in the first place, and insure that it will not be closed nor ever prosecuted, on full display here in the comments section of this article.

_Americans_ should be outraged at this despicable practice by the Chicago Police Department.

Republicans and Democrats, on the other hand, keep fiddling while Rome burns. A pox on both your houses.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Maybe we should have more beating interrogations on TV.

In the pilot of Gotham, Pepper flees from Officers Gordon and Bullock. After a chase in which Pepper fires a gun wildly, a physical struggle ensues and Pepper gets shot.

Once they realize Pepper was framed for the Wayne murders, they fear for their jobs for shooting an innocent man.

At that point, I couldn’t help but mock the writers for their naivete. Granted, the Gotham pilot was produced before Ferguson and I was watching it well after.

But we still portray US law enforcement as honest servants of the people who, when corrupted, are on the take of rum-running mobsters.

Anonymous Coward says:

TV Show

First I heard about this was a TV show called “The Good Wife” and I couldn’t believe this can be real (season 6 final episode). While, yeah it is a soap opera but the great thing about it is that they take news from the past few months and turn it into current show themes. You know, you have the overall story and then the weekly story. This weekly story in the show focuses on actual events and like in this case uses shocking events and shows them to the public. Like someone getting not arrested but put in police “observation” and is not allowed to see a lawyer. They even used the same street cornor in the show.

Imho that is a great way to make news that might get lost otherwise known to the general public. One step ahead of shows like “The Daily Show” (RIP) or “Last Week Tonight with Jamie Oliver”).

GEMont (profile) says:

Ownership Rights Only

Civil Rights!

After the Hollywood 9/11 creation of the best ever bad guy – the Homemade, Unstoppable, Invisible Enemy – the once upon a time “Resistance”, “Rebel”, “Freedom Fighter”, repurposed as the Evil to end all Evils, the Black Clad, Black Masked Terrorista!!!

In the nation of Corporate Government and the Sleeping Public – during the Unwinnable, Eternal War on Drugs, where Inanimate Stuff can be Arrested and Charged with Committing a Crime, and face Re-Distribution or Re-Sale!!!!!

In the Era of the Secret “Five Eyes” Multi-National Coalition of English Speaking White Guys!!!!!!

Good one.
I needed a laugh. 🙂

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: No, the 9/11 attacks were merely a successful SPECTRE plot.

James was getting over a weekend binge and figured Felix was on it. Felix had been transferred to a listening station in Greenland after the Bushes took power.

Blofeld III (Rather his ageless, superintelligent cat, the power behind the throne) masterminded the 9/11 attacks to trigger a panic of identity within the United States and to funnel more power and money into the five-eyes program through which it could control nations through an extensive blackmail system. As proven by the extensive US subsidies going into SPECTRE controlled industries.

Laugh now, but all of SPECTRE’s other schemes were equally outlandish, only this one is actually working. And James is nowhere to be seen.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: No, the 9/11 attacks were merely a successful SPECTRE plot.

SPECTRE?

Methinks ye spelled the new USG/MAFIA organization “CIAF BINSA” incorrectly. 🙂

Oh – and James died. That wasn’t a binge. He was poisoned by the Israeli Super spy Mother Hari.

His clone was fully activated and then “officially” retired to an island near Italy, to keep the myth alive though.

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