Traced back to Rahm Emanuel's NATO security frenzy... Protesters Target Chicago Police Department 'Black Site' at Homan Square; Demand that City 'Shut it Down!'

About 200 protesters rallied on February 28, 2015, at the Chicago Police Department’s “black site” at Homan Square, 3379 W. Fillmore (next to Homan Avenue) on a cold, but sunny day. The racially mixed but predominantly white crowd demanded “No Gitmo in Chicago,” referring to the torture facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which is on US territory.

A “black site” is a facility with at least some activities that are not acknowledged by public officials, where people are detained without official recognition, where they cannot get phone calls and access to lawyers, and where sometimes, people are tortured. The term “black site” is one that has been used to refer to hidden CIA torture sites around the world.

The Homan Square site was revealed this past week in a series of articles written by Spencer Ackerman that appeared in the British newspaper, “The Guardian.” There has been no announcement to date of why the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times had not previously reported this site, and that why Chicagoans had to learn about city activities through a foreign newspaper.

However, reporters from both Chicago newspapers, as well as a number of other outlets, were on the scene Saturday. In fact, reports of the protests were on both papers’ web sites by that night.

Protesters were demanding that the City “shut it down.” They demanded that an independent review be launched to find out just what has been occurring in the Homan Square facility. It was pointed out the CPD was “routinely” denying lawyers access to clients at the facility. One speaker pointed out that in the last four years, there have been over 300 police shootings of people in Chicago, with 90 fatalities, but no cop has been indicted, no one has been fired. “These are crimes against humanity and must stop,” demanded one speaker. Another speaker pointed out that over $50 million in lawsuit settlements involving police officers were paid out last year alone. (The Jon Burge torture cases have cost the city somewhere around $97 million to date, with expectations that they will breach $100 million shortly.)

What was particularly interesting was that speakers tied in torture in Chicago with events around the world. One speaker noted that Jon Burge learned how to torture in Vietnam, and brought his experiences here, while another cop, Richard Zuley had spent 25 years as a Chicago detective, and took his experiences in torturing suspects in Chicago to Guantanamo, to be used on prisoners. Ackerman has written in his reporting, “The results of its investigation suggest a continuum between Guantánamo interrogation rooms and Chicago police precincts.”

The protesters noted that this was not a one-time event, that the US has established a world-wide torture system. Chants included “From Chicago to Gitmo, this torture system has got to go,” and “Indict, convict, and send to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

Ackerman’s reporting initially found one of the “NATO 3”—three white men who were set up by the cops and arrested (and later convicted) for trying to disrupt the NATO meetings in May 2012—who said he had been chained to a pipe for 18 hours at Homan Square before being allowed to call an attorney. Subsequent reporting has found at least three African American men who have reported similar mistreatment. More people are expected to emerge with details of police activities, as activists urged those with personal knowledge to step forward publicly.

Protesters stated that this was an issue that had to be confronted by both mayoral candidates—Rahm Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia—during their runoff, as well as by aldermanic candidates still facing runoffs. Emanuel, who has promised in the past to make “hard choices,” has been noticeably silent on these abuses that have taken place on his watch.

Controversy has been growing since the highly respected newspaper, the Guardian, broke the story in an exclusive that Chicago police had been maintaining a "dark site" that was used to keep prisoners away from relatives and friends, effectively denying bail and violating Constitutional protections, after arrests. Protests were held at the site after the Guardian's revelations, while some in Chicago's corporate media tried to cover up the facts.

Protesters at the police 'dark site.' Substance photo by Kim Scipes.The controversial site is at the old West Side Sears center on Homan Ave. Part of the Sears complex became a CPS charter school, while the rest was taken over by the city and according to recent revelations became a "dark site" for police activities. A February 28 protest drew public attention to the work of the site. A four-minute video of the February 28 protest is available at:

As the pressure grows on Chicago to admit what was done at the old Sears site, corporate media confusion is undermined by greater and greater detail about what had been done at the site.


Kim Scipes is the Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union.


March 2, 2015 at 9:44 AM

By: Jean Schwab

Dark Site

Best Kept Secret is what I call it. Driving past- Who would have known?

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