The Chicago Police Department denied allegations of physical abuse at the Homan Square “black site” that was investigated by the Guardian. The police say the journalist’s claims of physical violence at the facility are “not supported by any facts whatsoever.” Nevertheless, people are coming forward to tell stories of what some are calling torture.
According to the Guardian, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) regularly violated detainees’ constitutional rights in the Homan Square facility, including beatings, shackling for long periods, and being denied access to counsel. The article dubbed the facility a “black site,” because interrogations were kept off the record — an analogy to the international CIA facilities. In one extreme example, the author said one person died shortly after being held.
Chicago Police spokesman Martin Maloney said the black site allegations were false in an official statement.
“There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square. The allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false. It is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever.”
Not true, according to one person’s account detailed in the Intercept.
Chicago resident Kory Wright said he and his friend, Deandre Hutcherson, were picked up on drug-dealing charges and brought to Homan Square. He said he was strapped to a bench in a hot room for six-hours while giving false information to the police to end the ordeal. He was never read his Miranda rights or officially entered into the database system while at the facility.
His friend, Deandre Hutcherson, reportedly had it even worse. He said that police officers starting punching him in the face and kicking his genitals. He eventually faked an asthma attack to get out of the black site.
Police and other critics say there are other issues with the Guardian’s story.
Maloney’s statement went on to say that it was not a black site, because it is well known to people in the Chicago area justice system.
According to local WBEZ radio, journalists frequent the facility, and there’s even limited public access for people to recover stolen property.
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Frank Main said he’s been there 20 or 30 times.
“The reasons I’ve been there is going for essentially ‘show and tells’ where the police will show huge amounts of drugs that they’ve seized in various cases. And in those situations you’ll have lots of media; television cameras, radio.”
Guardian reporter Spencer Ackerman answered the criticism explaining that he calls it a “black site” because of secret police activity, not because it’s unknown.
“You can find certain black sites in Romania and Poland that are out in the open. It’s not the visibility of the facility, it’s what goes on in the facility that makes it secretive.”
But the most frightening criticism of the Guardian article comes from Chicago law professor Craig Futterman. He said to WBEZ that calling Homan Square a black site is an exaggeration, because civil rights abuses are occurring all over the Chicago area.
“If there’s a risk, I think it’s elevating this facility. And making it look like there’s a problem in one particular station, as opposed to there’s a broader systemic problem to people who are very vulnerable who are denied their basic fundamental constitutional right.”
Does that mean that all of Chicago is a “black site?” The Chicago Police Department will likely be talking about Homan Square for some time to come.
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