The Guardian:  Chicago police operate a black site

Combating the grip of inner-city violence presents challenges for law enforcement. Unfortunately, according to a Guardian investigation and lawsuit, the Chicago Police Department’s latest incarnation to fight crime allows cruelty to prevail over civil liberties.

Rivaling the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “black sites,” the secluded hubs the agency operated to thwart terrorism, the Chicago Police Department allegedly administered its own center to debrief suspects held in custody.

In sum, over 7,000 individuals have been detained in the Chicago Police black site since 2004 and no records are kept to verify a detainee’s presence in the facility.  Similarly, the building does not have a listed phone number.

“The reality is, no one knows where that person is at Homan Square.  They’re disappeared at that point,” said University of Chicago Law School professor Craig Futterman.         

The inconspicuous building, more closely resembling a warehouse, is located in the Homan Square neighborhood on Chicago’s far-west side and hosts suspects from all over the city.

Among the alleged violations:  Police are accused of denying counsel to suspects; the accused were strip searched, refused water, food, bathrooms and visits from family; coercive tactics, including a knife held to the throat of a suspect, were utilized to obtain confessions.

In response to the Guardian’s inquiry and lawsuit, the Chicago Police Department issued a statement in February stating the facility is operated within the guidelines of established police regulations.

The city of Chicago refused further comment.

A time of uneasiness, this is the last bit of news the city of Chicago needs.

Effective policing relies on a partnership with the public.  Although an uncharitable interpretation, it appears as if there is some truth to the dark rumors and macabre jokes about this compound the Chicago Police administers.

While there exists the possibility the begrudged are seizing an opportunity to besmirch Chicago’s police force with a variety of dubious claims, the evidence the compound has no operating phone number, no booking records to confirm the presence of suspects, and the city’s utterly unconvincing press release suggest this site was intended to hum along without interference.

It is very much the obligation of Mayor Emanuel to proceed with unrelenting vigilance and close this facility if these accusations are determined to be true.

Relationships between law enforcement and the public should not be fraught with mistrust and secrecy.


[The Guardian] [MSNBC] [Photo courtesy]