Corruption in Chicago

(From The Campus Lantern – March 5, 2015)

flickr / Bob Simpson

Last week the media revealed that the Chicago police department owns a special site for off-the-books interrogation of Americans.  The facility, which is located in a nondescript warehouse in Honan Square in Chicago’s west side, has supposedly been the site of secretive work by special police units (www.joemiller.us).

There are many questions as to where the moral lines are drawn in this situation.  For one, families and attorneys cannot find family members and clients who are held at the facility. There are supposed instances of Americans who were shackled in the warehouse for an entire day, all while being denied their basic constitutional rights.  Lawyers are labeling the interrogation site as the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site (www. joemiller.us).

Police who run the site are being accused of abusing Americans in more than one way.  Examples of this abuse include keeping arrestees out of official booking databases; beating by police, resulting in head wounds; shackling for prolonged periods; denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility; and holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.  There was also an instance of a man who was found dead in Honan Square (www.joemiller.us).

Although the media has just heard news of the corruption, it has been well known in the Chicago community.

According to the Guardian, Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes stated, “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.”

Flint Taylor, a civil-rights attorney in Chicago argued that the events taking place at Honan Square violate the fifth and sixth amendments of the constitution (www.theguardian.com).

“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.”

The presence of such corruption in the United States has been compared to a terrorist act.  By definition, terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”  The practices that take place at Honan Square surely are violent and intimidating.  It might not be clear what the purpose of the secret Chicago warehouse is, but the intent is clear: to drive fear into American citizens.

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