Protest Against Chicago Police "Black Site" and Torture: "Shut It Down!"

March 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


A diverse crowd of 150-200 people demonstrated Saturday, February 28, at the recently exposed Homan Square police site in the heart of the overwhelmingly Black West Side of Chicago. The demonstration, using the hashtag #Gitmo2Chicago to rally support widely, was called by Chicago Anonymous, Stop Mass Incarceration Network-Chicago, and the Gay Liberation Network; endorsed by Chicago World Can’t Wait and the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantánamo, and was in response to recent exposures by the Guardian UK of Chicago Police Department (CPD) detective Richard Zuley and of the Homan Square “black site” for secretive torture. (Search for “Zuley” and “Homan Square” at

Among the Guardian exposures of Zuley:

“While ‘assigned’ to the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, longtime Chicago detective and US Naval reservist Richard Zuley led one of the most brutal interrogations ever conducted at the prison. ‘I’ve never seen anyone stoop to these levels’, a former Marine Corps prosecutor said.”

Lathierial Boyd, an innocent man convicted of murder in Chicago in 1990, and released in 2013 after serving 23 years in prison because of Zuley’s police work, told the Guardian that Zuley told him, “No nigger is supposed to live like this” after searching his expensive loft.

Among the Guardian exposures of Homan Square:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
  • At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

At the end of the rally, about half of the crowd seized major streets on the West Side of Chicago, shutting down significant amounts of traffic and marching for more than 1½ miles, chanting “Homan Square—Shut It Down! CPD—Shut It Down! The whole damn system—Shut It Down!” and “Indict, Convict, Send the Torturers to Jail! The Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell!” and other chants. This seemed to catch the CPD by surprise. In 18 degree weather, one demonstrator said that it was so good to see people out in the streets again after this long, cold winter.

This exposure of the CPD has become a flashpoint of anger, attracting media coverage in many cities and states across the U.S. This demonstration comes on the heels of last fall’s powerful, beautiful, and necessary demonstrations across the U.S. that demanded the end to police murders. Other demonstrations around the country against the black site are planned over the next week.

The speakers were from a wide spectrum of political views. Several speakers denounced the beatings and other violations of democratic principles they believe in. One poster said, “No Gitmo in Chicago.” Some demanded that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former chief-of-staff to President Obama, and who despite an in-person endorsement by Obama only days before the recent mayoral election, failed to get a majority of the votes (leading to a runoff in six weeks), say something other than “everything is OK.”

Chicago Anonymous denounced the misleading coverage by the mainstream media, which rather than address issues of torture and violation of basic rights, argue about minor details of the phrase “black sites.” They called for the Homan Square site to be shut down.

A spokesman for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network linked what happens in Guantánamo, in Chicago police stations, and the solitary confinement of 80,000 prisoners in the U.S., which is a violation of international standards against torture. He pointed out that these are not acts by “bad apples,” but are systemic crimes against humanity that the people must STOP. He called for this demonstration and other upcoming actions to be part of more massive waves of struggle leading towards April 14, when people Stop Business as Usual across the country.

A 19-year-old college student said that these are not isolated incidents, and called for more actions to “move the vectors of power.” An older Black man told the crowd about how people are disrespected when they have to go to this building, looking for property of theirs that was “lost” when they were booked or jailed.

Chicago World Can’t Wait denounced torture in Guantánamo, in Chicago, and elsewhere, and called for people to “Stop Thinking Like Americans! Start Thinking About Humanity!”

A representative from the Chicago Revolution Club told the crowd that while the rest of the world was now learning about this “black site,” it was well known for its crimes against the people to those in Chicago’s West Side. He said that this is not the only site where this happens in Chicago, but what happens throughout Chicago almost certainly happens in city after city across the country. He called for shutting down this and all torture sites, and for people to build our strength and make April 14 a day when people around the country Stop Business as Usual.

This was a good day for the people.

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