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Demonstrators Protest Homan Square CPD Site As Allegations Grow

By aaroncynic in News on Mar 1, 2015 5:00PM

Photo credit: Plussone/Twitter

Nearly 200 people protested outside the Chicago Police Department's facility in Homan Square Saturday, where allegations of torture have created national headlines. Allegations of holding arrestees off the books and the use of CIA style interrogation techniques were published by the Guardian last week.

Andy Thayer, who helped organize the demonstration, demanded Mayor Rahm Emanuel open an investigation. “We live in a city and, yes, a country that is swimming in a problem of police brutality, particularly against young black men, young Latino men and other people of color,” said Thayer. Mike Holmgren of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said this was an endemic problem within the police department. “This is a hemlock tree,” said Holmgren. “It’s poison. These are crimes against humanity and they must stop. As long as this system is in power, the world will be a horror.”

In an effort to quell the outrage over the site, CPD released a “fact sheet” about the facility. The three-page document takes umbrage with the stories reported and the accounts from more than a half dozen detainees who spent time at the site at different times under different circumstances. “It is not a secret facility,” according to the document. Later, a section titled “examples of false information recently published” leads with “the allegation that physical violence is a part of interviews with suspects is unequivocally false, it is offensive, and it is not supported by any facts whatsoever.” It then goes on to say that the autopsy report of man who died in an interview room at the site showed an accidental heroin overdose, and local media have been invited on tours regularly.

The second page, titled “What Experts Are Saying About Homan Square,” reads like the inside jacket of a book on the New York Times best-seller list. The page cherry picks quotes defending the department from three articles published by local press and then moves on to a page summarizing procedures related to arrests, detentions and interviews.

The protest and fact sheet came after the revelation of more tales of disappearances inside Homan Square, which mirror the earlier accounts about what it's like to be inside. Brock Terry, 31, told The Guardian police held him in Homan for three days without public notice, booking or a lawyer, after a marijuana bust. Terry was handcuffed in a room by the wrist. “I was kept there,” said Terry. “I didn’t speak to a lawyer or anything. I didn’t interact with nobody for three days. And then when I do see the light of day, I go straight to another police station, go straight there to county and be processed.”

Cliff Nellis, an attorney with the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, told the British newspaper that in February 2014, he was tipped off that a young black client of his had been taken to the site in connection with a drug investigation. When Nellis got to the site and started asking around, officers reportedly told him they were unaware of the purpose of the site and that they “don't hold people here.”

Reading from a statement written by Brian Jacob Church, the first Homan detainee to come forward to the Guardian, Travis McDermott said “Today you are standing here because basic humanity has been disregarded in the grossest fashion. We hear about things like this happening in other countries, but we never expect them to hit so close to home.”

A rally linking the allegations at the Homan site and the movement demanding reparations for the victims of Jon Burge is planned for tomorrow evening in Daley Plaza.