‘A US domestic black site’: inside one protester’s secretive police detention

This old warehouse on Chicago’s west side
is not a typical police facility. It’s called Homan Square. Lawyers and criminologists
describe it as Chicago’s equivalent of a CIA black site. When you go in nobody knows what happened
to you, it’s almost like they throw a black bag over your head and then make you disappear
for… for a day or two. And just, they’re interrogation facilities. In May 2012, Brain Jacob Church travelled
to Chicago to protest the Nato summit. Police arrested him on suspicion of terrorism
charges but no one knew where he was taken. When they first arrested us, they took us
to this building, we were never booked, we were never processed. Erm, I was in… I was
in Homan Square for about 17 hours, you know, handcuffed to the bench before I was actually finally
allowed to see an attorney. The right to remain silent is fundamental
in criminal justice. So is access to a lawyer. At Homan Square, Church says, you get neither. With his lawyers unable to even find him,
no one could enforce his rights. I had essentially figured: “Alright, well
they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again.” Homan Square isn’t obviously a police facility
but there are cop vehicles parked outside. Anti-gang, anti-vice and other special units
operate inside, where the public is barred from seeing what goes on. So, essentially, the bench was about this
wide and at the back the had a bar that came across like this. They wouldn’t un-handcuff
us to sleep, erm, so when I slept, I slept with like my hand cuffed to the bar and I
was kind of slept like this. All of our ankles were handcuffed together
as well. I asked them to make a phonecall, I asked,
you know, to talk to my lawyers and again they… they pointed at the phone number and
were, like: “Oh, you’re not getting any phone calls from here.” And they were, like: “Just
tell us what we want to know and you can go home.” Lawyers eventually found Church through a
tip-off from Chicago politicos. After approximately 20 hours inside Homan Square he was taken
to an actual police precinct. Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,
erm, it brings to mind the, err, the interrogation facilities that they use in the Middle East.
That’s essentially what this place, Homan Square, is. It’s a… It’s a domestic black
site. It’s a domestic black

Author: Kevin Mason

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