Chicago Police Bring the War on Terror to the Citizens

Written By Ryan Stancil

Posted February 26, 2015

Nearly 100 years ago, the city of Chicago was a hotbed of crime thanks to prohibition. Even today, it’s a city that has a notorious reputation due to a perceived lack of safety.

Only now, it seems like the city’s residents can’t necessarily trust the police to keep them safe either.

According to a recent story that appeared in The Guardian, there sits a warehouse on the city’s west side, an area known as Homan Square, that reportedly operates much like a CIA black site.

If you don’t know what a black site is, it’s a term associated with secret prisons that are used to detain people who were once referred to as “enemy combatants” in the War on Terror. These are generally problematic because, first and foremost, detainees have no rights beyond what their captors grant because their legal status lacks clear definition.

The same principles apply to the nondescript warehouse recently uncovered in Chicago.

No Rights, No Recourse

People familiar with the Homan Square facility have described it as a place where detainees are shackled for extensive periods of time and denied access to legal counsel.

Particular incidents have seen detainees beaten to the point where injuries have been sustained and, in one instance, one man was found unresponsive in an interview room. He was later pronounced dead.

Whatever occurs within the walls of the warehouse is done in secret; arrestees are kept out of official booking databases and, thus, can’t be located by family members or the attorneys who represent them.

They effectively disappear for whatever length of time they are held and are at the mercy of the Chicago Police Department. And the type of suspects brought into Homan Square can vary. One, a teenager, was brought in (and later released) because of a supposed connection to a shooting, but others were detained while present at a protest against a NATO summit.

As if to solidify the feeling that this whole practice is like something out of a Tom Clancy novel, the Homan Square warehouse also reportedly houses several Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that are all the rage with local police departments these days.

The Slow Creep Continues

All of this speaks to the increased militarization of police that we have been seeing for the last few years. Beyond that, it could be said that it also speaks to the “us vs. them” mentality prominent among many modern-day law enforcement agencies.

Police militarization, the continued erosion of civil rights, and the increasing number of narratives that tie the two together are setting us on dangerous path. At the very least, the trend is creating a crisis regarding the confidence citizens have in law enforcement and the authorities in general.

But with each story like this seemingly more heinous than the last, it certainly appears as though the authorities don’t care.

One Final Note

Since the story broke a few days ago, there hasn’t been much coverage of it in major news outlets.

Two of Chicago’s largest newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, ran stories about the Homan Square warehouse, but mostly chose to focus on local police officials denying the accusations.

Make of that what you will.

Keep your eyes open,

–Ryan Stancil