The Crusader Newspaper Group

Leaders urge officials to close Homan Square

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

Saying Chicago is the epicenter of the urban crisis because of crime, the police and the judicial system, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Monday, April 18, called for a White House summit on crime and urban development. He also called on U.S. officials to close the infamous Homan Square police detention center, where mostly Black men were allegedly tortured by police.

The facility is in the site of the old Sears warehouse on the West Side of Chicago. It is a place where civil rights attorney Flint Taylor called a CIA-like “black site” where police gather information about crimes.

Jackson made his remarks during a press conference held at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, 930 E. 50th St. where he responded to the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force report that revealed police bias towards people of color. Jackson demands that all of the police-involved videos be released. He also said the disciplinary code of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) should be rescinded because “it’s a source of cover-up. Police who file false reports should be a felony for they are as guilty as those engaged in direct acts of violence and break the code of law.”

The task force report found that Blacks and Hispanics were four times more likely than whites to be stopped by police while driving. It also said three-quarters of street stops targeted Blacks. According to the report, 72 percent of people who were tasered by police were Black.

The report also found there is a lack of trust between the community and Chicago police, whom residents say “have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”

The report, headed by Lori Lightfoot, came five months after the

release of a video showing the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by officer Jason Van Dyke. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

Rev. Jackson called for all video tapes of police-involved shootings to be released. “If a policeman falsifies a report, it should be a felony,” he said giving the example of Van Dyke’s shooting of McDonald 16 times in 15 seconds.

Rev. Ira Acree, Greater St. John Bible Church and co-chair of the LEADERS Network, also wants President Obama to come home and deal with the gun violence. “We are in a state of crisis and police misconduct has made us an international disgrace.” He called for the disbanding of the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) that seldom ruled against an accused policeman. Acree said, “You can’t have police policing the police” and expect fairness to prevail. Acree supports a jobs bill many say will reduce gun violence.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin joined Rev. Jackson’s call for the closure of the Homan Square police detention center where he said since 2004 more than 7,000 mostly Black and Hispanic detainees were allegedly denied legal counsel “and tortured.” “Trust in the Chicago Police Department cannot be restored unless the issue of Homan Square is immediately, directly and decisively confronted,” Boykin stated.

“The systemic racism and history of corruption cited in the Police Accountability Task Force Report require that the Department of Justice investigate the allegations of torture and denial of counsel at Homan Square,” said Boykin. He said any officer knowingly submitting or files a false police report should be immediately fired.

“Chicago is the epicenter of the urban crisis in American today both in terms of crime by the people, the police and the judicial system. It’s not just the crime. It’s the scene where the crime is taking place,” Jackson said.



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