News, Wrongful Convictions

Scene of Detention

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Chicago police held mostly blacks at a secret jail location

In the 1981 movie “Prince of the City,” an undercover narcotics detective asks a Mafia guy if one the criminal organization’s members is involved in a high-profile New York crime.

The “made” man is clearly offended by the question. “What’s the matter? Don’t you have enough niggers to lock up?” he snaps.

Chicago police held blacks at a secret location.
Chicago police held blacks at a secret location.

That scene and conversation come to mind after the Guardian, a British newspaper, reported on Wednesday that Chicago police detained 3,540 people, 82% of whom were African American, in a secret interrogation center known as Homan Square for over a decade. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, the newspaper reported.

The story is headlined “Chicago police detained thousands of black Americans at interrogation facility.”

After reviewing records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Guardian reported that between September 2004 and June 2015, around 3,500 people were eventually charged with drug possession — primarily heroin, as well as marijuana and cocaine — but also for minor traffic violations, public urination and driving without a seat

belt.

Some 2,974 of those arrested are black and 8.5% are white. Over two-thirds of the arrests at Homan Square, or about 2,522, have occurred under Mayor Rham Emanuel, the Guardian reported. Chicago’s population is 33% black and 32% white.

Chicago’s police department is notorious, known for torturing black men into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. In May, Chicago approved a $5.5 million fund for black men who were victims of police torture and who served long prison sentences for crimes they didn’t commit.

 

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