CHICAGO (CBS) — The rally continues to grow on Chicago’s West Side steps from a CPD detention facility.
The Homan Square complex has been at the center of controversy for years over the treatment of people in custody.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey has a look at the latest push for the closure of the Homan Square facility.
Chicago police started prepping early, blocking the street in front of the Homan Square building with city vehicles, installing pod cameras and conducting surveillance.
The group of about 15 different organizations assembled across the street at “Freedom Square” and recited a list of alleged injustices that have taken place in the building.
“Being hit with phone books, being electrocuted, being sexually violated,” said Damon Willimas from the #LetUsBreathe Collective. “Being held without access to legal counsel for hours sometimes days. Being held without a bathroom.”
The CBS 2 Investigators have been digging into claims of police abuse at the Homan Square building for years. Brian Jacob Church, who was arrested during the NATO Summit in Chicago in 2012, said he was denied accessed to a lawyer while he was held at the facility.
“I was handcuffed to a bench in a cinder block cell for 17 hours,” Church said.
A year later, three more people claimed in a federal lawsuit that they were abused by Chicago police officers at the facility and then illegally jailed for more than a year.
“They strip-searched them. They took them to dark rooms and handcuffed them to the walls. They did not permit them to go to the bathroom or eat or drink,” said attorney Flint Taylor.
On Thursday, 27-year-old Matthew Dixon, who is fighting to have his conviction overturned due to the involvement of two now federally-convicted cops, told CBS 2 he waited at Homan Square for seven to eight hours with no idea why he was being detained.
“You keep screaming for help. Can you get some water? Can you use the bathroom? They don’t come answer you,” Dixon said.
Now these protesters are calling for the facility to be shut down, concerned for future and former detainees.
“People who were negatively impacted by the violence that they encountered inside of Homan Square,” said Trina Reynolds-Tyler of the Black Abolitionist Network Collective.
CBS 2 asked the Chicago Police Department about the current status of the Homan Square facility. CPD said it is “fully functioning.” A spokesperson said they were aware and prepared for Friday’s rally.