Target: Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago
Goal: Shut down alleged interrogation facility to end illegal police practices and the abuse of detainees.
Chicago police officers have allegedly denied detainees legal representation while hiding their whereabouts from family and lawyers at an off-the-books interrogation facility for mostly narcotic-related crimes. Claims have been reported of head injuries from police brutality, being shackled for prolonged periods, wrongful arrests, denying attorney access, holding juveniles with out legal counsel, and at least one death in an “interview room.” This police brutality must stop.
When a person is taken into this secret interrogation facility, known as Homan Square, no one can get in touch with them and they can’t get in touch with the outside world. Unlike in routine police procedures, those taken to Homan Square aren’t booked and therefore have no searchable record of their whereabouts. There is no phone number to the compound and phone calls aren’t granted to those inside. No prisoner-holding facility is legally exempted from record keeping and phone calls. Lawyers who attempt to enter Homan Square in hopes of finding and speaking with their clients are denied access. Media outlets and attorneys have been referring to those taken to Homan Square as the “disappeared.”
The alleged interrogation facility targets the poor who cannot afford legal counsel and are not aware of their rights. Those unfortunate enough to end up at the compound aren’t given a public defender. Most of those detained, over 80 percent, are black. Interrogations have taken place before a suspect is read their Miranda rights and some have allegedly been shackled for half a day. It is after prolonged interrogations, denial of phone calls, food, and water, and alleged physical abusive that detainees are either taken to a station for booking or released back onto the street.
Authorities holding people for long periods of time, denying their right to a lawyer, and concealing their whereabouts are practices used in oversea interrogations.While the nation has criticized detention abuses in the Middle East during the U.S. war on terrorism, domestic abuses of the same nature are occurring to America’s poor. Demand that Chicago shuts down their secretive interrogation compound and discontinue abusive police tactics.
Dear Mayor Daley,
Homan Square is plagued with scandal and abuse and should be shut down immediately. It has been deemed a domestic black site that violates the civil rights of Chicagoans. The claims of physical abuse, prolonged interrogations, and the off-the-books detentions, are cause for concern.
Denying a suspect or witness their right to a lawyer and coercing them into giving a statement violates the fifth and sixth amendments. The alleged practices used in Homan Square also violate Chicago’s own police guidelines, which guarantee phone calls to detainees and visitations by their attorneys. There are no exemptions that allow a police facility to not book arrests and make their clients unreachable.
The Chicago police force is implementing military interrogation techniques on its poor in a desperate and pitiful attempt at curbing its high level of crime. The police are regressing back to their historical community abuse and focusing on low-level narcotic charges when the war on drugs has proven to fail in producing any productive outcomes. Homan Square is allegedly targeting the poor and vulnerable who have been neglected by the city and whose communities are falling apart.
I am urging you to please shut down Homan Square. Ensure the police force is abiding by its guidelines and guaranteeing detainees their constitutional rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bob Simpson