Friday, March 6, 2015

Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square Torture Accusations Set a Dangerous Precedent

Homan Square, once a warehouse on Chicago’s west side, is a Chicago Police Special Operations detention and interrogation center. The center is accused of abusing prisoners, holding them for hours without any official record of their detention, and preventing them from their legal right to be represented by an attorney. The center has been likened to a CIA black site, according to The Guardian.

The allegations are not new. The Chicago Police Department’s mistreatment of prisoners over the years has been widely known and reported.

Jon Burge, a former Chicago Police Department commander, was convicted and sentenced on January 21, 2011 to four-and-one-half years in federal prison for torturing more than 200 prisoners in order to force confessions from them. Burge was accused of using electrical shock, suffocation with a plastic bag, and burning and beating of prisoners held at Homan Square.

The Chicago Police Department practice of denying detainees access to lawyers has been a systemic problem for decades. Representing indigent clients who want to speak to an attorney, First Defense Legal Aid Executive Director Eliza Solowiej said, “It's not just this facility. This is a citywide problem.”

There is much that needs to change in our country. America’s values are slumping at an alarming rate. Among them are the egregious, systemic constitutional violations embedded in our systems of justice and law enforcement. Americans sanction justifiable killings and brutal use of force by police. Most Americans passively accept the militarization of police. In many cities, the police are essentially paramilitary units.

In the ways America has passively sanctioned torture by the CIA, Chicago, considering the lack of the city to take any action so far, has sanctioned police actions under the guise of keeping its city safe.

If The Guardian’s accusations against the Chicago Police are true, without redress it may set the stage for Police Departments in other major cities to do the same thing. The United States will then have dumped another one of its fundamental principles and humanitarian values into the accumulative abyss of values that apparently have been long forgotten.

Copyright © 2015 Horatio Green


Spencer Ackerman, Zach Stafford, Mark Guarino, Oliver Laughland,  'Gestapo' tactics at US police 'black site' ring alarm from Chicago to Washington, The Guardian