The Chicago police department has been operating a “black site” building for some time, using an indistinct warehouse on Chicago’s west side to house an illegal, off-the-books interrogation site. According to the Guardian, lawyers have compared the operation to a domestic version of a CIA black site.
The facility known as Homan square is used by secretive police forces to detain suspects against their will without access to attorneys or family members. Local attorneys and others familiar with Homan square, including protester Brian Jacob Church who was chained up inside for nearly a day, describe some of the practices that go on inside.
Allegedly, prisoners, some as young as 15, are shackled for prolonged periods, beaten by police, and denied access to their attorneys. Those arrested are often kept out of official booking databases. At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” said Church, who was detained in 2012. “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.”
The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked.
The Chicago Police Department initially refused to comment on this story, but later insisted that there is nothing illegal taking place at the facility, a “sensitive” location allegedly used to house undercover units.