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Does Chicago Police Department Have A Secret West Side Interrogation Facility?

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 24, 2015 7:00PM

Stories about Chicago Police roughing up some of the people they arrest and detain are as old as the city itself. An article published by The Guardian Tuesday goes even further and alleges the Police Department of engaging in some “black ops” practices that, if true, should concern even those among us who feel scaling back some civil liberties is necessary for general safety.

The existence of the building on the 3300 block of West Fillmore Street is not exactly a secret, but what happens inside is and has been open to speculation and rumor for years by activists and attorneys. The Guardian story claims CPD is running “an off-the-books interrogation compound” where detainees as young as 15 are held without legal counsel for up to 24 hours; attorneys are refused access; arrestees are not added to official booking databases; and police have beaten arrestees. Most of the alleged arrestees who see the inside of the facility are poor and/or minorities. One man who claims to have been inside and subject to CPD’s hospitality is Brian Church, one of the so-called “NATO 3” who was sentenced to five years in prison last April after being convicted of mob action and possessing incendiary devices with the intent to commit arson during the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago.

Church told The Guardian:

“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.”

Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor said the existence of this facility is “an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

In February 2013, 44-year-old Bronzeville resident John Hubbard was taken to the site. Ambulances were called after Hubbard was found unresponsive in an interview room; he was later pronounced dead at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Chicagoist has requested comment from Chicago Police Department's News Affairs division specifically asking in what official capacities the site is used. If and when CPD replies, we will update this story.