It looks like just another warehouse, but the building, located on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, is actually a secret “black site” operated by the Chicago Police Department, according to a new report by the Guardian.
Local attorneys and a protester who spent nearly a day in the facility claimed Americans can be detained at the secret location without access to legal counsel for 12 to 24 hours. Further, the sources said the facility operates like a CIA black site and violates Americans’ basic constitutional rights.
The Guardian’s investigation reportedly found that the following tactics are used at the site:
• Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
• Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
• Shackling for prolonged periods.
• Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
• Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
The report adds, “At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.”
Suspects are reportedly not booked when taken to the secret location, like they would be if they were arrested and taken to the local police station. Because of this, Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes told the Guardian that it’s “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.”
Jacob Church was detained by police and taken to Homan Square on May 16, 2012, after a police investigation uncovered his plans to violently protest the Nato summit. He was one of the infamous "Nato Three" who were accused of plotting to use Molotov cocktails on local buildings during the summit.
Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly were eventually acquitted on terrorism charges, but were each sentenced to prison time after being found guilty of "mob action" charges and a count of possessing an incendiary device to commit arson. Church is now on parole after serving two and a half years in prison.
Even though Church’s case garnered national media attention, a group of attorneys were reportedly unable to locate him. One of his attorneys said no booking record existed for her client. It wouldn’t be until after they made a “major stink” with the city, under the leadership of mayor Rahm Emanuel, that they learned where Church was being held.
Church told the publication of his experience:
“Essentially, I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody,” Church told the Guardian, in contradiction of a police guidance on permitting phone calls and legal counsel to arrestees.
Church’s left wrist was cuffed to a bar behind a bench in windowless cinderblock cell, with his ankles cuffed together. He remained in those restraints for about 17 hours.
“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again,’” Church said.
But there’s still a lot of secrecy surrounding the Homan Square warehouse. Officials refused to answer any questions when a reporter visited the warehouse on Friday.
Read the full report here.