from the chitanamo dept
Unfortunately, the perception of how our police force cares to operate here is also largely incorrect: it's so much worse than you think. If you thought it was all corruption and laziness from some (and I stress some) of Chicago's finest, you don't know the half of it, because the other half is the pure denial of the basic rights we are supposed to have when dealing with our protectors. The recent work done by The Guardian in detailing how Chicago police operated a CIA-style black site ought to chill the bones of anyone planning on being anywhere near my beloved city.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights. At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.The practices undertaken at the Homan facility are alleged to include detaining people without documenting their arrest, beatings, keeping detainees shackled for hours at a time, refusing attorneys for detainees access to the facility, and detaining people while refusing them legal counsel for up to a full day. These practices, by the way, weren't reserved for the mature, but were happily visited upon minors, because when you're going to go evil there is no point in half-assing it. Do these types of practices sound familiar to you? Would it help if the detainees were in orange jumpsuits and had the tan of a Cuban sun upon their skin? You get the point.
So, what types of hardened criminals find themselves disappeared at the Homan Square Gitmo?
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.Church was held at the facility for just under 24 hours, most of that time spent cuffed to the furniture there. Though he had immediately asked to call legal counsel, this request was denied. Neither he nor the 11 other protestors that were taken there were allowed to see legal counsel until finally Church's, and only Church's, lawyer was allowed in after 20 or so hours. Prior to that, police had been questioning him illegaly. Because of the well-publicized nature of the protestor's detention, lawyers had been searching for him for hours. The reason Church couldn't be found wasn't a bug, though. It was a feature.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “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.”
Though the raid attracted major media attention, a team of attorneys could not find Church through 12 hours of “active searching”, Sarah Gelsomino, Church’s lawyer, recalled. No booking record existed. Only after she and others made a “major stink” with contacts in the offices of the corporation counsel and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did they even learn about Homan Square.And yet, as ridiculous as it sounds, Church and the other protestors got off lucky.
They sent another attorney to the facility, where he ultimately gained entry, and talked to Church through a floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage. Finally, hours later, police took Church and his two co-defendants to a nearby police station for booking. After serving two and a half years in prison, Church is currently on parole after he and his co-defendants were found not guilty in 2014 of terrorism-related offenses but guilty of lesser charges of possessing an incendiary device and the misdemeanor of “mob action”.
On February 2, 2013, John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square. Hubbard never walked out. The Chicago Tribune reported that the 44-year old was found “unresponsive inside an interview room”, and pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s office could not locate any record for the Guardian indicating a cause of Hubbard’s death. It remains unclear why Hubbard was ever in police custody.It's quite a shame that we can't ask Mr. Hubbard because he died within the facility where lawyers are refused entrance, where detainees are kept out of the record books, and where the police appear to operate with impunity. Now, it's roughly around here where you're thinking one of two things. Some of you are thinking that such a claim as this is so outlandish that there's very little chance that it's true. Others must be thinking that the accusations of abuse and the denial of rights are rare mistakes made by a tiny percentage of officers. Too bad this secret wasn't all that secret.
“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,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.Keep in mind the references to Gitmo and CIA black sites overseas and then juxtapose that to the ongoing militarization of domestic police within our borders, and the picture becomes a clear warning against allowing the practices of our military and spy organizations to trickle into our domestic police departments. Will the outside world pressure Chicago into giving up the abuse? Unlikely. The outside view of my city is often wrong, but there's no doubting the popular assertion that Chicago is a machine, and the police department represents a powerful cog in that machine, one with a great deal of torque and few placed within which to shove a brick that will keep it from turning.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.
“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”