Protesters rallied over the weekend in front of the secretive CIA-style “black site” operated for years by the Chicago Police Department, urging the department to permanently shut it down and end the practice of “disappearing” suspects for hours at a time so they could be interrogated without legal representation and sometimes even beaten.
The existence of the site, known as Homan Square, was unveiled in a story by The Guardian.
One Black man, 44-year-old John Hubbard, died at the site—he was reportedly found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
The crowd that rallied outside Homan Square on Saturday even heard from a man who had been detained there, activist Brian Jacob Church.
“For too long, we as Americans have been subject to brutality at the hands of the police… Specifically Black people, poor people and Latino people,” Church said, according to The Guardian. “This building needs to be shut down.”
More than 70 percent of the people arrested in Chicago are Black, meaning Black people are predominantly the victims of the Homan Square abuse.
The Chicago police even detained suspects as young as 15 at Homan Square. Lawyer Julia Bartmes told the Guardian about a mother who couldn’t find her 15-year-old son after he had been picked up by police before dawn, only to later discover that the boy had been held at Homan Square for 12 or 13 hours, where he was allegedly being questioned in connection with a shooting.
When Bartmes went to the west side building to see if she could retrieve him, she was refused entry for nearly an hour.
An officer told her, “Well, you can’t just stand here taking notes, this is a secure facility, there are undercover officers, and you’re making people very nervous,” Bartmes told the Guardian.
“It’s sort of 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,” Bartmes said.
“They just disappear,” said Anthony Hill, a criminal defense attorney, “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”