Police Abuse

More Than 3,500 Detained in Chicago. Only Three Got Lawyers. What the Hell?

New information released about Homan Square's secret operations.


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Credit: ADJR Photos (ChicagoFD1996) / photo on flickr

In February, The Guardian broke the story of Homan Square, a mysterious compound in Chicago where police stood accused of holding suspects for hours off-the-books, sometimes shackled, denying them access to attorneys and interrogating them before they were ever charged with any crime.

The discovery prompted national attention and even inspired a plotline in the most recent season of The Good Wife (which takes place in Chicago). Chicago police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have stood behind the facility and insist they're following all the rules.

The Guardian didn't let the story go and used freedom of information laws to get records on thousands of detainees who had been held in the facility between 2004 and 2015:

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.

Despite repeated denials from the Chicago police department that the warehouse is a secretive, off-the-books anomaly, the Homan Square files begin to show how the city's most vulnerable people get lost in its criminal justice system.

People held at Homan Square have been subsequently charged with everything from "drinking alcohol on the public way" to murder. But the scale of the detentions – and the racial disparity therein – raises the prospect of major civil-rights violations.

Documents indicate the detainees are a group of disproportionately minority citizens, many accused of low-level drug crimes, faced with incriminating themselves before their arrests appeared in a booking system by which their families and attorneys might find them.

The Guardian talked to a few more people who have been in Homan Square. Among the disturbing reasons police were dragging them into the facility and detaining them for hours for interrogations was an attempt to intimidate these low-level drug criminals into becoming police informers:

Several ex-Homan Square detainees … have told the Guardian that their detentions at the warehouse were out of proportion to their alleged crimes, if any – but calibrated to pressure them into becoming informants.

One of them is Rick Dresmann, a 50-year-old white man who fled Chicago after multiple stints at Homan Square. Dresmann said he feared that police would continue taking him to the facility until he became an informant, prompting him to move to California.

Dresmann, who lived in Chicago for 20 years, recalled that police told him "my life would be a lot easier if I gave them information – I'd be home with a nice long shower and all that bullshit".

Read more here. According to The Guardian, Chicago police are still using Homan Square as a detention facility, despite the bad press.

NEXT: DOJ Investigation Finds Due-Process Violations, Discrimination in St. Louis County Juvenile Courts

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  1. There weren’t prisoners, they were enemy combatants so it’s all good.

  2. Why on earth is this place not shut down, and why are every politician and police officer who knew about these atrocities or took part in them not in prison?

    (Rhetorical question.)

    1. Because drugs duh.

      (The only answer you will ever get.)

      1. “Because Chicago” works well in this case too.

          1. Oh, I am still alive, minus my left kidney…my buddy is doing well with it…thank God for my wife being with me and that pain control pump *click* ….ahhhh.

            1. I can’t imagine giving away half of… whatever my kidneys do. Survive!

              1. The remaining one will grow a bit and I will be at 70 percent function.
                I cling to life like STEVE SMITH clings to his next rape victim.

                1. The remaining one will grow a bit

                  That’s… disturbing. I fucking love science!

                2. Holy shit! You went through with it. I’m very proud of you, if that means anything.

                  My best friend from childhood had heart valve replacement surgery today, and the
                  most I did was buy him a laptop so he can watch decent TV in the coming weeks….

            2. Swiss Servator, rudert schwer!|8.6.15 @ 12:01AM|#
              “Oh, I am still alive, minus my left kidney…my buddy is doing well with it.”

              Standing O!

            3. Right on, Swiss! Feel better!

              1. The pain control pump sure helps!

                Drugs are good m’kay.

            4. “Oh, I am still alive, minus my left kidney…my buddy is doing well with it..”

              This is how one defines ‘hero’


  3. Well, at least all this helps keep Chicago’s crime rate low. It doesn’t?? Well, then what Chicago needs is to dump those evil Republican racists and elect some Democrats for a change!

    1. Rahm Emanuel approves of this message.

  4. I blame all the republicans who’ve been running Chicago for so long.

    1. Chicago can’t afford to process the suspects properly, thanks to Republican austerity.

      There, that wasn’t hard!

  5. Two darkly comedic things going on here:

    1. It takes a British news organization to follow up on this – probably because one of their top priorities is to demonstrate how horrible the US is (see #2)
    2. It is immediately a racial issue – the most horrible thing about this abuse is that it is not equitably spread amongst black/white/yellow/brown/etc.

    1. We had a problem with surfing locals here, and it went largely unreported here for decades. The Brits finally brought it to light. Hang on, I’ll see if I can find it.

        1. Tragedy of the Commons…
          BTW, The Guardian’s coverage of the Greek fiasco a month or so back was the best I found.

        2. Dude, I’m a New Yorker. That might as well be Greek to me.

          1. Haven’t you seen Point Break????

          2. Or better yet, Point Break Live?

            1. Always buy the poncho.

              1. Cisco is not for sale.

          3. Certainly no provincialism in NYC:

            1. I have seen the Pacific Ocean with my own eyes – it exists!

              1. No joking here: Years ago, I dated a woman who was born in the East Bay (Hayward) had lived her entire life in the bay area, and was thrilled to first ride over the GG Bridge with me on the way to a dinner up north.
                Me: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!

                1. I can see that. The GG bridge doesn’t go anywhere. I lived in SF for one year and never rode it.

                  1. Well, you don’t really ride a bridge anywhere. That might be the problem.

                    1. Well, you don’t really ride a bridge anywhere.


                2. I hope you sealed the deal before you kicked her to the curb.

                  1. You, sir, your jib. The cut of it, I like.

                    1. SS,rs!
                      In threaded comments, it would help if you identify the object of your post (narrowed gaze).

            2. My favorite story about how New York is about a thousand miles from being the center of anything was an interview I heard with a Brazilian woman out of… Sao Paulo I believe. She was a jazz pianist, and her mentor had asked her to come out and study in New York. The interviewer asked her what she thought of New York when she got there, her answer:

              “It was so quiet, like a small town, it seemed so calm, peaceful and laid back.”

              Makes one realize that there are cities out there that take shits bigger than New York.

              1. Odd, since NYC has a higher population density than Sao Paulo. Maybe she was talking about the crime.

  6. Chicago’s very own Lubyanka. Does anybody still wonder how outfits like the Cheka or KGB get staffed and housed? When I was a kid the local John Bircher parish priest told us that this sort of thing would happen when the communists took over and we didn’t even wait for that to happen for this shit to show up.

    And if this is really following all the “rules” then we are doublepluss fucked.

  7. As is always the case, cutting corners fucks everyone, especially the innocent. But, if there are actual murderers who went through Homan Square, they’re gonna walk now too.

    Nice work, guys.

    1. It’s better to let the guilty go free than to follow the rules.

      Wait, that didn’t come out right… what was the question again?

  8. They were just following orders.

    1. At least the interrogations ran on time.

      1. Except that they probably didn’t. The suspects were most certainly kept waiting.

  9. “Raaaacist!!”

  10. Does anybody still wonder how outfits like the Cheka or KGB get staffed and housed?
    “It can’t happen here.”
    *laughs morosely, takes drink*

    1. “Does anybody still wonder how outfits like the Cheka or KGB get staffed and housed?”
      Pretty sure it was Snyder in “Bloodlands” who commented that the Germans had to train people to get up in the morning, go to work, kill people all day and come home. It is NOT a normal human occupation.
      I don’t doubt the fucking commies did too in Russia.

      1. Of course they needed training, but this is another example that shows we have our own stock of trainable people.

        Also, the majority of the population won’t even hear of this and most of those who do will shrug it off in a few days. It will continue.

  11. That’s not OK.

  12. OT: “Facehugger” found on Mars! Seriously, what the heck is that? It doesn’t look geological at all.

    1. Dunno, which I think is sufficient at this point.
      I once saw a UFO, and by that, I mean specifically a flying object I could not identify. It remains a UFO I saw.

      1. A somewhat strange one.

    2. Mars has crabs.

      1. Mars needs guitars!

        1. The Hoodoo Gurus are crab people!

      2. Mars has spiders – get David Bowie immediately!

        1. “Camel Spider Attacks Infantry Platoon in Afghanistan!”
          (No, I didn’t watch it. Just picked it for the headline. Prolly bullshit)

  13. Stoopid teathuglikkans

    1. I know, if they just got them out of Chicago completely and voted in more Democrats, then all of this racism would just go away…

      What do you mean only one out of 50 aldermen on Chicago’s city council is a Republican?!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_City_Council #Chicago_aldermen

      1. Oh, and that “Republican” was backed by the SEIU.


  14. I demand that the Republican party be held responsible!

  15. Never let a crisis go to waste.


  16. I’m checking the Jon Stewart thread now and then.
    The slimy commie kid was whinging about how he was amazed that some libertarians supported the use of the nukes, ’cause they are icky.
    I’ve asked for the alternatives, and have yet to see anything. Given that *no one* has yet done so, and commie kid ain’t noted for intellectual prowess, I’m pretty sure this is a typical lefty “I HATE REALITY” rant.

    1. Duuude, I mean like woww, uhhhh, like nukes are bombs and you know, like bombs kill people, and uhhhh killing people is like, wrong, you know?

      I mean, like, if we got rid of all the bombs, and you know, guns, and like knives and stuff, everyone could be like, happy, and get along, right?

  17. Mobs gonna mob.


    1. Wait, Zimbabwe wants the Dr. *extradited*?

      OK, you extradite Mugabe to the International Criminal Court, then we’ll talk about lions, you pathetic gits.

      1. “..you extradite Mugabe to the International Criminal Court, then we’ll talk..”

        But.. but.. Booooooshh!!!

  18. Libertarians are shocked that poor defendants don’t have lawyers, a dentist kills a lion, Planned Parenthood sells bags of dead babies to the highest bidder, Contesha Tate of Norwalk will be the first girl on the high school wresting team. News at 11.

    1. Libertarians are shocked disgusted, yet largely unsurprised that poor defendants don’t have lawyers, a dentist kills a lion, Planned Parenthood sells bags of dead babies to the highest bidder, Contesha Tate of Norwalk will be the first girl on the high school wresting team. and generally ambivalent and/or disinterested about fluff, ginned-up outrage, and human interest stories. News at 11.

      1. So Pathogen has taken it upon himself to fix my posts. We’re like a team now!

        1. The Fix is IN! LOL

    2. Is that sarcasm?

      I can hardly tell.

      Anyway, if libertarians are shocked about anything, it’s that the left is busy jumping up and down about symbolic issues when there are real honest to God injustices being perpetrated–especially against black people–that need to be addressed.

      Never mind the racist drug war or Chicago’s own Guantanamo–they’re got important things to do!

      …like denounce the Confederate flag and make Christians bake cakes for gay weddings.

      1. And towing dead lions…

      2. there are real honest to God injustices being perpetrated–especially against black people–that need to be addressed.

        Stop drinking the cool-aid. We live in world of self-fulfillment at best, or self-gratification at worst. No one, off a University campus, gives a shit about black people or white people.

        1. No, I should correct that. There is some reason to think that some people, based on their race (the people to whom they are related), are distinguishable from others. It’s subtle, but may accumulate. Are you a W.I.E.R.D.O.?

          Read Jayman for that.

          1. WTF are you talking about?

            1. You are a smart guy with a blind spot.

              1. You’re a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.

                What are you talking about?

          2. I’m quite familiar with WEIRD (and Jayman). I suspect you and Ken are missing the E.

        2. I’m not drinking any kool-aid. Disabusing people of silly notions is not drinking kool-aid. Quite the opposite. Are you related to Mikey Hihn?

          If the Democrat politicians in Chicago don’t give a shit about black people, then the people in the streets holding ‘black lives matter’ signs need to be made aware of that.

          In fact, I have little doubt but that many of them are already painfully aware that their politicians don’t give a shit about them. It’s probably the millennial-hipster/suburban soccer moms/swing vote people out there who equate Republicans with racism and Democrats with tolerance that need to be made aware that Democrat politicians don’t give a shit about black people…

          Certainly they care less about black people than they care about protecting their masters in the Democrat machine–much of which is made up of the police and public employee union(s).

  19. This seems like an important story on its face. You know, the police systematically violated the rights of thousands of people over the course of decades–with no repercussions or accountability…yadda, yadda, yadda…

    But it isn’t really that important, and we know it isn’t that important because if it were? Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, would be looking into prosecuting the people responsible for this “travesty” instead of going after jury nullification activists and commenters at Hit & Run for exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.

    1. That’s a different department.. Preet specializes in the intimidation racket, white washing these sorts of egregious shit stains on our nations soul like a clean-up on aisle 3, through stifling discourse on such issues. They hold no allegiance, and will eagerly serve their new rethuglikkkan masters in 2016 pending electoral outcome. These people are convinced that the American public have the memory and attention span of a goldfish. They might be right…

      1. I bet it’s just about Rahm Emanuel, who is old friends with Hillary, and friendly with the President, being the Mayor, and Chicago being heavily Democrat.

        If there were a riot over this, it would make it to the front page, but there isn’t anybody that’s going to push this too hard so long as Emmanuel has a friend in the White House.

        Rahm might even end up as Hillary’s running mate. Can’t bring attention to something like this happening on his watch.

        1. Well, Rahm fought for his political life not long ago, and uncomfortably close to loosing. Crime and violence are out of hand in Chicago, and I can’t see how he has enough political capital to keep candid discussion about it squelched. His city is piss broke, and his competence is seriously questionable at this point. The rest of Illinois is growing very tired of paying through the nose to prop that shithole up, sooo… yeah, if he has any higher political machinations, he would do well to avoid the potential wrath of this hypocritical shit-typhoon.. If I didn’t know better, I would of thought this story took place in a back-water hick town in depression era Mississippi, or Alabama.. Not a modern, enlightened progressive bastion such as Chicago..

        2. It’s the other way around, Rahmbo is besties with Obumbles and knows Cankles, he’s not one of the Cankle Cavalcade. He’s not getting anywhere near a VP slot, Chicago is going 90% for team blue, no need for Rahmbo on a Cankles ticket.

          Your point about riots is valid…the faithful in Chicago will never go that far when team blue is in charge.

          Sadly, Fox or Rush won’t bring this up because they suck cop.

          So a socialist rag in GB is the only one bringing it up. Goofy as the guardian is, they are pretty good about revealing this shit (even though there vision of government would double down), so you have to give them credit.

          1. You have a point about Hillary not needing help in Illinois, but now I”m trying to picture who she might need.

            Who do you picture running with Hillary? The Democrats usually need somebody from the South to win, and Hillary isn’t that anymore.

            Pennsylvania is a swing state that might help. Maybe Ohio. But who’s out there that’s going to make Hillary look competent and help where she needs it?

            1. The Democrat bench is amazingly thin these days. The midterms in 2010 and 2014 just slaughtered a lot of contenders. The ones remaining tend to be too new, too old, too bizarre, and/or too stupid. I have a hard time thinking of any state-level Dem who would help Hillary win a particular state.

              But I’m with Paglia on this: I think there’s a good chance Hillary will flame out even before the nomination.

              1. Sometimes, like when she announced she wasn’t going to stop accepting donations from foreign governments, it seems like she doesn’t even really want to be the President.

                It’s like it was too awkward to say no at first, and now she’s gotten in so deep, she doesn’t know how to get out of it.

                She could have a nice life with a lot of money, where she doesn’t have to deal with the country’s problems and half of the country hating her.

                They never really had money before. Now they’ve got money! Maybe she really did want to be President at some point, but now?

                She’s like the default candidate, and maybe nobody bothered to ask her if she still wants to run. If I were her, I’d kick Bill out of the house, sell it, and buy myself some nice property on Lake Tahoe or in Aspen somewhere. Tell all the whiners at Dem party headquarters to go screw themselves and drink mimosas everyday with brunch.

                1. She’s only a couple of years younger than Reagan was when he took office.

                  Does she have any grandchildren yet?

                  1. Yes, one grandkid.

                2. One theory is that she accepts a ton of donations, calls off the campaign, and just keeps the donations.

  20. Which I guess sadly means that actual journalism is dead in this country. I started reading newspapers in the mid 60’s when I was around ten years old (I was delivering said papers but peeked at the articles).

    I recall Mike Royko and Jack Anderson columns. IIRC Royko was a liberal and Anderson was a Mormon and leaned conservative. These dudes dug up shit on everybody (lots of targets for Royko in Daley’s Chicago and Anderson’s tenure in DC). Maybe I’m wrong but these guys went after wrongdoers without regard for which party they were in. And they snagged a lot of crooks.

    These guys don’t exist in this country anymore and we are worse off for it. It’s sad.

    1. I can’t believe a British paper is doing all of this work. The Sun Times and Tribune don’t seem to be interested in this story.

  21. Can we just start teaching German in the schools and be done with it?

    1. Haben Sie ein bierfahrtenlich?

  22. If a candidate came out for ending the War on Drugs they’d win.

  23. Homan Square has solved a single problem for Rahm: how to pack a fucktonnage of shit-eating pigs that rape the constitution up the ass every single second of every fucking day into a masonic arrangement of goddamn Chicago bricks. Nothing more. That crapfuck is a macabre hive of stinging nematodes that exists to create jobs and pensions and destroy American limbs and brains. Go Chicago coppers. And may Jesus continue jamming his pearly white cock deep into that vile crack on the front of your fucking hideous face, Rahm. You suck forever, fucker.

    1. Measured. Balanced. Fair.

      No woodchippers were involved in making this comment.

  24. In Chicago, it is beginning to seem like the only good cop is a dead one. It is a shame that the citizens of Chicago have more to fear from the cops than they do the criminals the cops are supposed to apprehend.

  25. But the scale of the detentions ? and the racial disparity therein ? raises the prospect of major civil-rights violations.

    Apparently Chicago isn’t maltreating enough Hispanics for the Guardian’s liking.

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