Sensational claims are emerging today that the Chicago Police are operating an illegal interrogation centre where suspects are subject to Guantanamo style treatment. The Guardian claims that the facility is the equivalent of a CIA style "black site," and is based on Chicago's west side.
Suspects taken to the site are allegedly kept out of official police records and are denied legal representation as well as being beaten and kept shackled for long periods of time. The Mail claims that suspects are effectively "disappeared" to the Chicago police facility housed in a nondescript warehouse and known as Homan Square.
According to the Guardian one man, Brian Jacob Church, says that he was taken to the Chicago police facility after being arrested for protesting at a NATO summit. Church claims that he was effectively "disappeared," was not given his rights, access to a lawyer and was shackled to a bench for 17 hours.
Church said "Homan Square is definitely an unusual place, 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."According to the Mail Churches lawyer Sarah Gelsomino spent over 12 hours searching for her client and found that he had not been booked into any official Chicago police system. Church was effectively "disappeared" for almost a full day before he was eventually transferred to a normal precinct.
According to The Atlantic they interviewed Tracy Siska, a criminologist and executive director of the Chicago Justice Project who said that those "disappeared" by the Chicago police department are usually "black and brown and poor kids who can't afford to hire private counsel while they're in custody. "
It is alleged that suspects who are "disappeared" are shackled, locked in windowless rooms, denied food and contact with the outside world and are denied their constitutional rights.
The Guardian says that the Chicago police facility is an "open secret" amongst lawyers who regularly make police precinct visits to clients. They quote Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes who said of Homan Square, "if you can't find a client in the system, odds are they're there."
Flint Taylor a Chicago civil rights lawyer told the Guardian that Chicago police practices that violate peoples constitutional rights are routine in Chicago and the practice of denying suspects their rights dates back over 40-years.
The Guardian reports that the Chicago police department refused to answer questions about the Homan Square facility but later released a statement denying any wrong doing and saying it was a "sensitive" location, home to undercover units.
The statement also said that the "Chicago police department abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other Chicago police department facility."
Tracy Siska said that the behaviour of Chicago police at Homan Square shows how allowing facilities like Guantanamo to exist eventually blurs the lines between military operations and law enforcement. She said practices "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."
[Image via the Guardian]