[News] Homan Square is Chicago's new 'House of Screams'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 13 18:53:00 EDT 2016


  Homan Square is Chicago's new 'House of Screams' | Flint Taylor

Flint Taylor April 13, 2016

When your local police station is nicknamed the “House of Screams”, you 
know you’ve got a problem. That’s what a Chicago police station in the 
south side was known as several decades ago, when police detectives, 
working with the now notorious Jon Burge, routinely took young 
African-American men into custody there. Now, a new House of Screams 
exists in Chicago. It’s called Homan Square 

Back in the 1970s and 80s, men were often kept sequestered from their 
family and lawyers for hours and days while Burge and his colleagues 
interrogated them, using tactics that included electric shock 
suffocation, brutal beatings with batons and other instruments, “Russian 
with a handgun and death threats.

The station had numerous interrogation rooms on the second floor, with 
old-fashioned steam radiators that would burn the skin, a garage with 
dingy holding cells and a dark, foreboding basement. Men were tortured 
in all of these locations, as well as at a remote torture site. 
were obtained, false police reports were filed, perjured 
testimony was routinely offered, and scores of men, many of them 
innocent, were sent to prison – some to death row – as a result. At 
least one man, Jessie Winston, died under questionable circumstances.

Documents disclosed in Guardian lawsuit reveal for first time how 
Chicago police used punches, baton blows and Tasers at the off-the-books 
interrogation site

Prosecutors, judges 
<http://socialistworker.org/2011/06/30/racism-killed-his-family> and a 
politically powerful mayor joined in promoting a broad-based cover-up, 
repeatedly denying that there was anything untoward happening. The 
torturers were commended and promoted, while a complicit police 
disciplinary agency exonerated the torturers in each and every 

An investigative journalist wrote extensive exposés setting forth the 
mounting evidence uncovered by the torture victims’ lawyers, evidence 
which established that the torture was systemic. Activists demonstrated, 
but the local mainstream media, for the most part, ignored the scandal, 
and the cover-up continued for another 20 years.

Sound familiar? This past year, in the shadow of the Laquan McDonald 
police shooting scandal, investigative reporters from the Guardian and 
their lawyers have exposed, in numerous articles, that Chicago’s history 
of torture and cover-up is repeating itself, this time at Homan Square.

As the Guardian has documented, Homan Square, named after a notorious 
Chicago slumlord Samuel Homan 
<http://socialistworker.org/2011/06/30/racism-killed-his-family>, was, 
until recently, a secret site where thousands of people of color have 
been – and apparently still are – held and interrogated for hours, “off 
the books”, often without being under arrest.

Jaime Galvan is the second person known to have died at the secret 
interrogation site. Family and friends contend that the official autopsy 
and police report don’t add up

They are handcuffed to a wall in dark and foreboding rooms and cells, 
with inconsistent access to food, drink or access to bathroom 
facilities. The Guardian’s continuing investigation reveals that when 
this sensory deprivation does not yield sufficient cooperation, the 
police interrogators all too often employ physical brutality that meets 
the United Nations Convention Against Torture’s definition of torture.

Cases of tasering, which is a very real form of electric shock, 
suffocation, anal rape 
beatings with batons 
threats with a weapon 
and questionable deaths 
while in custody are now all on the public record. And, once again, we 
see police officers committing perjury and innocent victims being 
charged with crimes that they did not commit.

Most recently, the Guardian has obtained police reports that purport to 
document some of these cases, but they are laced with self-serving 
falsehoods. The latest shameful iteration of the CPD’s disciplinary 
agency – and the CPD’s supervising officers – have exonerated the 
alleged torturers in each and every case that they chose to report. This 
time the mayor is Rahm Emanuel, not Richie Daley, but the official 
denials of wrongdoing sound eerily familiar.

The local media – beaten on this story too many times to count – 
continues to studiously ignore both the facts that outline another 
police torture scandal in the making, and demonstrations by local 
activists who seek to draw the obvious connections between the history 
of Chicago <http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/chicago> police torture, 
the current Laquan McDonald police shooting scandal and Homan Square.

Activists, progressive politicians, Homan Square victims and their 
lawyers have urged the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to 
broaden its nascent investigation of the policies and practices of the 
Chicago police department to include Homan Square. Hopefully, with 
continued scrutiny, activist agitation and a proper reading of Chicago’s 
sordid police history, Homan Square will soon be shut down and justice 
will be delivered – and the screams will stop.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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