February 27, 2015
|Photograph: Philipp Batta/Guardian|
A Chicago man says he was confined for three days – shackled, interrogated and fed only twice, his whereabouts unknown – inside the police “black site” at the epicentre of public outcry over allegations of abuse said to focus on minority citizens.
Four black Chicagoans have now come forward to the Guardian detailing off-the-books ordeals at the facility, including another who describes being detained in “a big cage” with his wrists cuffed to a bench so he couldn’t move.
The Guardian has now interviewed six people about their detention at the Homan Square police warehouse. With striking consistency, all have described extensive detentions without benefit of legal counsel or public notice of where they were.
The first-hand accounts of two white protesters who “disappeared” at the police warehouse in 2012 set off political and civil-rights outrage this week, and multiple protests have now been scheduled by organizers including the Black Lives Matter movement.
Brock Terry, 31, says police took him to Homan Square in 2011, after finding him with five and a half pounds of marijuana, and describes being held for three entire days without public notice, booking or a lawyer.
“I sat in that place for three days, man – with no talking, no calls to nobody,” Terry told the Guardian on Friday. His friends and family could not find him: “They call police stations, I’m not there, I’m not there.”
“I was kept there. I didn’t speak to a lawyer or anything,” he continued. “I didn’t interact with nobody for three days. And then when I do see the light of day, I go straight to another police station, go straight there to county and be processed.”
Terry detailed being handcuffed in one room at Homan Square by one wrist to a “little circular thing behind the bench”, echoing the accounts of the two Nato protesters interviewed by the Guardian, though Terry said he did not have his ankles cuffed together.
Three other men, Kory Wright, Deandre Hutcherson and David Smith, have also told the Guardian they were held in 2006 inside Homan Square, where they say they were handcuffed by both wrists with their arms spread. Hutcherson says he was punched in the face while in this position, before an officer stepped on his groin “like he was putting a cigarette out”.
Another lawyer has told the Guardian that in early 2014, police told him that his client – another young black man – was not at Homan Square, even though he was.
“What they did that night, by denying my 19-year-old client access to his attorney was unconstitutional, clearly,” said Cliff Nellis, an attorney with the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, located near Homan Square on Chicago’s west side.
The Chicago police did not respond to questions for this story. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, currently facing a heated runoff for re-election, said on Thursday night it was “not true” that the police maintain a facility lawyers have compared to a CIA “black site”.
Activists are planning a “Shut Down Homan Square” protest on Saturday and a demonstration for reparations for longstanding victims of Chicago police tortureon Monday. Representatives from Black Lives Matter Chicago said they were helping to organize and promote the Monday action. Several Chicago local and national politicians are calling for investigations, including from the US justice department, into allegations of police misconduct at the warehouse.
While Terry said that he did not see anyone else while confined at Homan in 2011, he said he heard people yelling “no, no, no” and “stop”. He remembered seeing chain-link “cages”, of the sort previously described to the Guardian by attorneys and former police superintendent Richard Brzeczek. They reminded him of dog kennels, he said.
“They got kennels – like, for people,” Terry told the Guardian. “I didn’t really want to believe that, but it is the truth.”
He continued: “I never saw anyone, but I know something else is going on. You don’t want to be in that kind of situation, so you gotta be quiet about it, so you don’t go down that route.”
While shackled and interrogated over the next three days, police fed Terry only twice, he said, with baloney sandwiches and juice. He got to use the bathroom “hardly ever, but I did use it.”
“Every day they came to ask some questions. Am I in a gang? Who am I with? Who run this? Who run that? Give them a gun and they’ll let me go,” Terry said. “That was pretty much the main thing: give them a gun and they’ll let me go. But I didn’t produce a gun.”
Had Terry found them a gun, he said, his ordeal with police might never end: “The thing about it is, when they say give them a gun, they let you go, but it’s like long invisible string tied to your ass. They definitely gonna come back to interrogate you to get another gun, or ask you about this crime, give them some information about this crime.”
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Wright, Hutcherson and Smith were also taken to Homan Square. Their ordeal,first reported by Juan Thompson of the Intercept, took place five years earlier. Wright recalled agreeing to break a $50 bill for a woman in North Lawndale who said she wanted to buy drugs but turned out to be an undercover police officer.