Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

torturing citizens

This. Is. Not. Good.  Not only has the US been torturing its enemies, we've been torturing our own citizens! Especially if you are a brown or black citizen, and anywhere close to Chicago. (And where else??)

Here we have yet another example of police overstepping their authority.  Looking back, this country has had quite the troubled past with its police forces.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, this story does not indict ALL police; it indicts a whole SYSTEM!  
We could sure use some BOLD politicians and civil servants these days.  

The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden 'black site'

The Guardian
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.
The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
  1. Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  2. Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  3. Shackling for prolonged periods.
  4. Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  5. Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.
“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”
The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black and brown.
Unlike a precinct, no one taken to Homan Square is said to be booked. Witnesses, suspects or other Chicagoans who end up inside do not appear to have a public, searchable record entered into a database indicating where they are, as happens when someone is booked at a precinct. Lawyers and relatives insist there is no way of finding their whereabouts. Those lawyers who have attempted to gain access to Homan Square are most often turned away, even as their clients remain in custody inside.
“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,” said Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes.
Chicago civil-rights attorney Flint Taylor said Homan Square represented a routinization of a notorious practice in local police work that violates the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution.
“This Homan Square revelation seems to me to be an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years,” Taylor said, “of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”
Much remains hidden about Homan Square...(continued)
Read the rest of this disturbing article here.

And Charles Pierce had a few choice words to say about this story:

Interesting that it was a political protester who wound up there, isn't it?

This, of course, continues to be a rough century for the Chicago P.D. It began with the revelations regarding Jon Burge, a rogue cop who routinely tortured suspects for 20 years on the city's South and West Sides. Then, more recently, it was revealed that another alleged CPD torturer named Richard Zuley had taken his act from Chicago's North Side to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And now this. I'm no expert, but I think it might behoove some ambitious assistant US Attorney in Cook County to get Mayor Rahm Emanuel under oath and find out what he knows about how Chicago became East Germany. (To be fair, the state's attorney for Cook County is on to the Zuley case, at least.) But this is what can happen if you normalize torture in the public mind the way that the Avignon Presidency and its acolytes did and then, when a new administration comes in, it declines to prosecute the people involved and, indeed, it fights to keep secret what was done in the name of the American people. Authoritarians wear all kinds of uniforms, and they can convince themselves that almost everyone is a threat of some kind or another. This is now a country that tortures, and torture does not stop at the water's edge. It is a decision that was made for us, but it is a decision that nobody, not even the president the country elected twice, has chosen fully to reverse. This is a country that tortures. And we live with it.

Pierce's original

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