Sunday, March 1, 2015

On the Meaning of Homan Square and Places Like It

Yesterday there was a rally of a couple of hundred or maybe more protesters at the Chicago "black site" known as "Homan Square," a former Sears warehouse that has been turned into an off the books police interrogation and detention site.

Thanks to Spencer Ackerman's reporting for the Guardian, Homan Square has become a Big Deal in the civil liberties community. It wasn't back in the day. The anger and protest that has been elicited since Spencer and others at the Guardian have been reporting on the connections between domestic policing and corrections practices and the torture regimes in our various gulags, particularly Gitmo and Chicago, are due to the confluence of various factors, movements and protests.

In 2012, though Homan Square and what went on there was known of and reported on, it didn't cause the kind of outrage or the level of outrage and public pressure for change that it does today. In 2012, most people -- including the victims of the Homan Square practices -- pretty much took it for granted. They knew it was wrong and said so, but at the time, it seemed like nothing could be done about it.

Now it seems that something can be done about it, thanks to the various movements against police misconduct and violence that have arisen more or less spontaneously around the country. The people are sick of it. And they are not passively tolerating it anymore. They are pushing back, and they won't quit until and unless the police desist in their fantasy of "protecting and serving" -- by brutalizing and killing at will without consequence.

The Chicago-land media is falling all over itself trying to diminish the importance of Homan Square and what has been going on there for years. They're extremely defensive about the lack of local reporting over the years about the facility and its functions. They've been trolling lawyers to come forth and say that Homan Square is no worse than any other Chicago police precinct when it comes to legal representation and detainee abuse.

"It's a systemic problem!" they say. Well, yes, yes it is. "So stop focusing on Homan Square!" No, to stop now would not be wise.

The subtext, of course, is that because Homan Square has been primarily "processing" accused gang-bangers and the like, what goes on there is A Good Thing, because it's Keeping Us Safe. Yet so much of the testimony of those "processed" at Homan Square, whether accused of gang-perfidy or not, has involved innocent people who were detained and abused just... because. "They fit the profile."

This is -- or should be -- unacceptable on its face.

Unfortunately, for too long it wasn't.

It was thought to be proper.

And it is still going on.

Not just at Homan Square, but all across the land.

It's time to shut down the domestic Gitmos and the Gulags, and it's time to overhaul the whole idea of police, policing, and "corrections" in this country. It's past time.

That's the of this and other protest movements that have captured the imaginations of so much of the country. We can do better than this. We are better than this. And we don't need Homan Squares to be safe.
The story is being covered very well at the Guardian.

The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times however have basically been caught with their blinders on...

Much of the rest of American media has largely ignored this story, though some have re-printed some of the Guardian's coverage.

Amy Goodman interviewed Spencer Ackerman for Democracy Now!:

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