Chicago Police Accused of Running Secret Interrogation Center

Thursday, February 26, 2015
Homan Square: Secret Chicago police "black site" (photo: Google Maps)

Chicago police have been accused of operating the equivalent of a “black site” interrogation center, reminiscent of those used by the Central Intelligence Agency.


A warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square has been in use for years by special police units conducting off-the-books interviews, according to The Guardian. Some of those taken to the facility reported being beaten and shackled by police who don’t log information about those questioned there. Many taken to the location are “poor, black and brown,” Spencer Ackerman reported for The Guardian.


Those questioned at Homan Square are denied their constitutional protections, such as the right to counsel, for 24 hours or more. Some of those taken to the site include children as young as 15. In 2013, a suspect named John Hubbard was taken to Homan Square and was later found “unresponsive inside an interview room” and pronounced dead. Authorities told The Guardian the cause of death was heroin intoxication.


Brian Jacob Church, who said he was held at Homan Square three years ago after protesting the NATO Summit in Chicago, told The Guardian: “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.”


Chicago attorney Julia Bartmes told the newspaper: “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.”


When police operate a site such as Homan Square, it blurs the line between law enforcement and military action, according to Tracy Siska, a criminologist and civil-rights activist with the Chicago Justice Project. “The real danger in allowing practices like Guantánamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects,” he said. “They 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.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Disappeared: Chicago Police Detain Americans At Abuse-Laden ‘Black Site’ (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)

Chicago Police Deny Report of Secret Interrogation Compound at Homan Square Site (by Frank Main, Chicago Sun Times)

The Chicago Police Used Appalling Military Interrogation Tactics For Decades (by Tracy Siska, The Guardian)

Chicago Woman Spent 675 Days in Jail for a Street Murder She Couldn’t have Committed…Because She was in Jail that Day (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Court Rules against Chicago Police Code of Silence (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


anonamouse 9 years ago
Seems like an efficient use of black space to me. Perhaps CPD maintains preparedness infrastructure under the Patriot Act; you never know when you might need to disappear a bunch of people. Have you seen the documentary "The House I Live In" yet? It's kinda like that.

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