Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Police Department is operating a CIA-style black site on the city’s West Side, according to an explosive new report from The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman. The facility, a warehouse known as Homan Square, also houses military-style vehicles, according to Ackerman.
The Guardian reports that the CPD detains mostly poor, black and brown people at Homan. Once at the site, detainees are allegedly beaten by police, shackled for hours and denied access to counsel. There is no booking at Homan Square, so details about who has been detained at the facility are scarce. “Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are,” Ackerman wrote. “Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts.”
One detainee, 44-year-old John Hubbard, died in an interview room at Homan. There are no official records — or a coroner’s report — concerning Hubbard’s official cause of death, or why he was detained in the first place.
Jacob Church, a member of the NATO Three, was also held at Homan. The NATO Three — three men charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism when the NATO summit convened in Chicago in 2012 — also included Jared Chase and Brent Betterly. It was the first terrorism case Chicago had seen. Church told The Guardian that he was chained to a bench for 17 hours and denied phone calls. His lawyer eventually tracked him down and was allowed to speak to him through a weird “floor-to-ceiling chain-link metal cage.”
The allegations of a Chicago black site follow a Guardian investigation into longtime Chicago police detective Richard Zuley. Zuley was known as a corrupt and brutal interrogator during his time with the department, especially when it came to black suspects. And he apparently took what he learned in Chicago with him to Guantánamo Bay, where he arrived in 2002. At Gitmo, Zuley reportedly threatened detainees with death, placed them in cold rooms, and orchestrated situations in which detainees were beaten and led to believe they were going to be killed.
Chicago police have a notorious record of human rights abuses. In 1968, police beat Vietnam War protestors at the Democratic National Convention. Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton was assassinated during a 1969 operation involving Chicago police and the FBI. And last October, former Chicago police detective Jon Burge was released from prison after serving time for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection to his alleged torture of more than 100 victims. Four of his victims were pardoned after claiming their confessions were false and coerced. Other torture victims are now seeking reparations, while Burge is enjoying his police pension.
Today is election day in Chicago, with incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel seeking a second term. He is running against four under-financed, and lesser known, opponents. When reached for comment, a City Hall spokesperson said, “The Mayor is getting the vote out,” while a spokesperson for Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy declined comment.
Editor’s Note: February 2, 2016
After uncovering misattributed quotes in stories written by Juan Thompson, a former staff reporter, The Intercept conducted a review of his work. Statements from the unnamed City Hall spokesperson and the spokesperson for then-Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy have not been confirmed.
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