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Chicago police commander who ran Homan Square ‘black site’ quits amid new lawsuit threat

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Resignation of Nicholas Roti, a veteran police officer who operated over the controversial police warehouse, comes as attorneys announce civil rights lawsuit

A senior Chicago police commander in charge of a major unit operating out of the controversial Homan Square police warehouse has resigned, the Guardian has confirmed.

The news came as attorneys for three Homan Square victims announced that they would file the first civil rights lawsuit over the facility with the aim of shutting down the complex likened by attorneys and activists to the domestic law enforcement equivalent of a CIA “black site.”

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Nicholas Roti, the chief of the bureau of organized crime, resigned from the Chicago police department last week, Chicago police public affairs officer Mike Sullivan told the Guardian.

The organized crime unit, according to its website, is tasked with confronting illegal narcotics, gang activity and vice in Chicago, operations that numerous people formerly held at Homan Square believe led to their incommunicado detentions there.

Sullivan did not provide a reason for Roti’s resignation.

Roti took charge of the organized crime division in 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times reported; and led the bureau through a command reorganization in 2011.Published reports indicate Roti is a 27-year veteran police officer.

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The Guardian exposed a series of incommunicado detention and abuse at the Chicago police facility, including people being held for extensive periods of time without public notifications to their families or access to attorneys.

Sullivan said that Roti himself did not operate out of Homan Square, but out of police headquarters.

Yet the organized crime bureau was cited by the Chicago police “fact sheet” released on 1 March, attempting to refute the Guardian’s reporting about a complex where 11 people thus far have told the Guardian they were effectively disappeared.

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“[S]ensitive units housed at the [Homan Square] facility include the Bureau of Organized Crime (including the narcotics unit),” the fact sheet reads.

Eleven people, seven of them black and Hispanic Chicagoans, have thus far told the Guardian that they have been held at Homan Square. Their detentions most often concerned drug suspicions. On several occasions, while in custody, police interrogators attempted to get detained men and women to either inform on others or deliver guns to the police, sometimes using the prospect of freedom as an enticement. The Chicago police say there is nothing untoward about Homan Square.

According to Chicago city data, Roti’s annual salary was $176,532. A local website cited Roti in 2014 as the 16th highest-paid public official in Chicago. The superintendent of police, cited as the highest paid Chicago public servant, is listed as making $260,000 annually. Mayor Rahm Emanuel makes $216, 210.

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The Chicago police have yet to respond to a request for further information.

The civil rights lawsuit, expected to be filed on Thursday evening in the US district court for the northern district of Illinois, comes on behalf of two Homan Square victims the Guardian wrote about on 4 March: John Vergara and Jose Garcia. They are joined by another man held at Homan Square with them in the same September 2011 incident, Carlos Ruiz, whom the Guardian did not interview.

Vergara and Garcia told the Guardian that masked police police officers “kidnapped” them from a Humboldt Park deli; held them and three others in a Homan Square “cage” without booking or access to counsel for eight to nine hours; and released four of them that evening without charge after Vergara threatened to tell a civil rights attorney what the police had done.

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“The plaintiffs would like the facility to be shut down,” said attorney Blake Horwitz, who is representing Vergara, Garcia and Ruiz.

“They’ll be seeking compensation for their injuries, and they’ll be asking that the officers be held liable and responsible for their actions, and for the officers to be punished.”

The lawsuit comes a day after US congressman Danny Davis and Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin hand delivered a letter to US attorney general Eric Holder requesting a Justice Department investigation into Homan Square.

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‘Hard to overstate’ how badly Taylor’s testimony damaged Trump: Ex-federal prosecutor

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On Wednesday, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote for Politico Magazine that the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor was devastating for President Donald Trump — and that if he keeps trying to deny wrongdoing, it will only get worse and maybe even force Senate Republicans' hand against him.

"It’s hard to overstate how much damage the testimony of Ukraine envoy William Taylor inflicted on President Donald Trump’s defense in the ongoing impeachment inquiry," wrote Mariotti. "On its face, Taylor’s testimony Tuesday established the quid pro quo that Trump has denied for weeks. But more importantly, Taylor’s detailed notes of the 'highly irregular' policy-making that he witnessed over the summer provide a roadmap to future testimony that could be even more harmful. Republicans have already begun to retreat from their 'no quid pro quo' line, but they will have to keep retreating because Taylor has almost single-handedly decimated the few witnesses who have provided some testimony that is favorable to Trump."

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‘How much did you get for your soul?’ Internet dogpiles Lindsey Graham after he walks back criticism of SCIF raid

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On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared to have reached the limit of his capacity to defend his own party when a gang of House Republicans raided a sensitive, compartmented information facility where an impeachment hearing was taking place and illegally bringing in recording equipment. Initially Graham criticized the Republicans behind the stunt, calling it "nuts."

Later, however, he changed his mind and decided the demonstration was fine with him, offering this explanation:

CORRECTION:

I was initially told House GOP took the SCIF by force – basically like a GOP version of Occupy Wall Street.

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‘We lost New Mexico to Mexico’: Internet breaks into hysterics over Trump wanting to build border wall on Colorado

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The president of the United States indicated he accidentally forgot where the state of Colorado was during his speech to an energy conference of fracking companies Wednesday.

Trump told the audience he was building a "wall" in Colorado, which is the state just north of New Mexico. If Trump was referring to his U.S.-Mexico border wall, it's the southern New Mexico border on which he intends to build the wall.

It prompted many to wonder if the president whipped out his fact-changing Sharpie yet again.

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