Protesters gathered Saturday outside a Chicago Police Department facility on the West Side, calling for it to be shut down following reports in the British newspaper The Guardian that described it as a “black site” where officers violate suspects’ rights.
About 200 people stood outside the Homan Square building in frigid temperatures Saturday, as police officers guarded the road to the facility, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The Guardian stories published last week cited Brian Jacob Church, who was arrested during the NATO Summit in Chicago in May 2012 and convicted with two other men dubbed the NATO 3. All were convicted of felony charges of possessing an incendiary device and misdemeanor mob action but acquitted of more serious terrorism charges.
Church told the newspaper he was handcuffed for about 17 hours and denied access to an attorney while police interrogated him inside the massive building in the 1000 block of South Homan Avenue that formerly was a Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse.
The story — denied by the police department — described the site as an “off-the-books interrogation compound” where people have been questioned and beaten by the police while the arrests were kept out of booking databases.
Protest organizer Andy Thayer told the crowd the facility — which houses the police department’s Organized Crime Bureau, the Evidence and Recovered Property Section, its ballistics lab and SWAT unit — is “off-the-books” and demanded that Mayor Rahm Emanuel open an investigation into it.
“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,” Thayer said.
Police spokesman Marty Maloney told the Sun-Times last week that, contrary to the allegations outlined in the British news report, arrest reports are completed at Homan Square, and he denied allegations of physical violence against suspects.
The Guardian cited what was termed the unexplained death of John Hubbard, 44, who had been found unresponsive in an interview room and later died. It said the Cook County medical examiner’s office couldn’t locate records indicating his cause of death.
The office told the Sun-Times that Hubbard died of an accidental heroin overdose. He was taken into custody after buying drugs from an undercover officer, according to arrest records.
There have been no lawsuits filed alleging abuses at the facility.