Chicago reporters failed to cover a police “black site” where suspects were held without access to legal representation because they sided with the authorities, a local activist and criminologist told The Atlantic on Tuesday.
“I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police,” Tracy Siska said. “They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police — a lot of urban police (not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them) embody racism.”
Siska is the head of the Chicago Justice Project, a non-profit group that works toward improving police transparency in hopes of improving community relations.
As The Guardian reported earlier in the day, local attorneys have called the police warehouse, known as Homan Square, as the equivalent to a CIA-style facility. Siska said that local police accountability activists believe it started operating during former police superintendent Phil Cline’s tenure “around 2006 or 2007.”
Most of the detainees at the facility, he said, were young men of color who could not afford to hire their own attorneys at the time of their arrest.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people from this site are involved in some form of street crime: gang activities, drugs—urban violent crime,” Siska told the Atlantic. “That’s what makes the site even worse. It takes Guantanamo-style tactics on urban street criminals and shreds the Bill of Rights.”
According to the Guardian, detainees inside Homan Square were beaten, denied counsel, shackled for hours and kept off of local arrest databases. But Siska said that his group won a rule change last year requiring police to log any arrestee into police records within an hour of reaching any facility. Arrestees must be logged in again if they are switched to another facility.
Siska’s organization posted a link to the piece on its Facebook page, stating, “This is a story CJP has been trying to get the Chicago press to cover for years now. For some reason the press in Chicago just refused to cover the story.”
“CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility,” police spokesperson Marty Maloney said in a statement. “If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them. There are always records of anyone who is arrested by CPD, and this is not any different at Homan Square.”
Neither newspaper has responded to Siska’s allegation regarding the local press as of Tuesday night.