Between one and two hundred people gathered this past Saturday in front of the Homan Square warehouse on the West Side to protest alleged inhumane treatment by the Chicago Police Department. The large building at 1011 South Homan Avenue was named last week by two Guardian investigations as a “black site,” where arrestees are tortured and detained without phone calls or access to legal counsel and without being booked. The newspaper pointed to a 2013 story from the Tribune that found one forty-four-year-old man had died while in police custody at the site.
At this weekend’s protest, organized by Chicago Anonymous and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, community organizer Otis Buckley told the crowd, ‘’If there are other individuals who have been victimized and brutalized in this building, we need you to come forth.”
Several activists also made demands Saturday of the CPD and Mayor Rahm Emanuel: to allow the community to inspect Homan Square within the next few days, to organize a public town hall meeting to be held within ten days, to immediately book all people arrested in Chicago, provide phone access to attorneys, and make public records of all arrests, and to open a public investigation into previous activities at the Homan Square facility.
Last Sunday the CPD issued a three-page statement, saying, “Homan Square is a facility owned and operated by the Chicago Police Department since 1999. It serves a number of functions, some of which are sensitive and some of which are not, however it is not a secret facility.”
Emanuel, under pressure from the upcoming runoff election, was campaigning Saturday and did not discuss Homan Square. The mayor did say last Thursday that the CPD does not operate a black site like the CIA.
More protests were planned for this past Monday and upcoming Thursday by We Charge Genocide and the Chicago Light Brigade and by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. On Monday, protestors called for reparations to the families of police torture victims in Daley Plaza, and on Thursday, protestors will call for a shutdown and investigation of Homan Square outside of the facility.
Correction March 3, 2015: An earlier version of this article mistakenly placed the protestors in the top photo in front of the Homan Square building. They are pictured marching down Roosevelt Road toward California Avenue.