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American Spring in Chicago?

homansquare

Let’s hope the upcoming Chicago mayoral election boots out the odious Rahm Emanuel and leads to special prosecutor investigation into the illegal detention center and torture chamber known as Homan Square. Maybe the election could even spur a genuine American Spring in Chicago, which sure needs one (as do many other US cities and the country as a whole.)

William Boardman does his usual, excellent advocacy journalism here, detailing the sewer that is Homan Square and Chicago politics in general, hoping for a political spring there.

In its essence, the story is simple and predictable: the Chicago police have a secure facility where they can take prisoners and hold them more or less indefinitely, keeping no official record of their whereabouts, while treating them with torture techniques made familiar by their application to prisoners at Guantanamo. The Guardian story by Spencer Ackerman, a reliable reporter who used to work for Wired, is based on public records and the personal accounts of both victims and attorneys, none of whom hide behind anonymity. The report provides ample detail that can be independently verified by any responsible public official or investigator or other news organization.

The Guardian report makes consistent allegations supported by testimony that can be independently verified:

  • that police take people into custody without arresting them;
  • that police hold prisoners incommunicado, sometimes for days;
  • that police deny prisoners their right to make a phone call;
  • that police deny prisoners any contact with their lawyers;
  • that police lie to lawyers about the whereabouts of their clients;
  • that police keep prisoners shackled hand and foot.

Additionally, there are allegations of further torture including threats and brutality. Most of this behavior is prohibited by the constitution.

Mayor Emanuel and Chicago PD are stonewalling. They know damn well allegations like this, if proven, means people (them) might be going to prison.

Remember the Chicago police riot of 1968: it was sanctioned by then Mayor Richard J. Daley who shouted anti-Semitic insults at the Connecticut Senator who spoke out against the violent rampage of city cops against unarmed anti-war protesters. Chicago policing was not good before that, and it hasn’t improved appreciably since. Government in Chicago, as in so many other places, remains tolerant of illegal, racist, brutal, and sometimes lethal police behavior.  That’s why it matters.

This is why Chicago needs a political Spring.

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