Monday, October 19, 2015

CHICAGO: Twilight Zone? Constitution-Free Zone? (What's it look like to YOU?)

Images from October 19 on Twitter, as "Homan Square" became a trending topic.

People around the world reading the exposé in The Guardian today about the thousands of (mostly African-American) people denied their rights while being detained at a secret Chicago Police Deparment location at Homan Square might wonder if anyone in Chicago is doing anything in an attempt to get control of the police.

Judging by how little coverage there is in the local media, one might imagine that police abuse is some kind of secret in Chicago.

In fact, there are multiple initiatives aimed at getting control of the Chicago police, including:

* a long-standing campaign for community control of the police by means of a Civilian Police Accountability Council.

* numerous initiatives aimed at curtailing specific abuses (such as the Community Renewal Society “Chicago Police Accountability Reform Platform”; We Charge Genocide’s “Stops, Transparency, Oversight and Protection Act” (STOP Act); and an agreement between the ACLU and the city regarding "stop and frisk" type police methods.

* the state-level "Police and Community Relations Improvement Act” - SB1304, which was signed into law this past summer.

All of these efforts are being pursued through their own particular set of processes and channels, and each has mobilized a large base of supporters.

Eventually, one or more of these initiatives will come to fruition. Chicago will eventually some degree of get control over its police force.

But is there time to wait?

The latest details about Homan Square raise a painful question: is it enough for the public to patiently pursue "due process" and "political action" when the police department is charging ahead with its abuses without disregard for law or human rights?

Today on Twitter, someone called Chicago a "Constitution-free zone."

What's the path of recourse when you're living in a "Constitution-free zone"?

Update October 23: "Homan Square: federal officials pressed to investigate 'egregious' revelations" in The Guardian: "Less than one day after the Guardian revealed that 7,185 arrestees had been detained at Homan Square over nearly 11 years with only 68 documented lawyer visits, the Illinois politician who represents the district housing Homan Square wrote to the US attorney general, insisting that that “further extensive investigative reporting by the Guardian” had forced him to request an expedited federal inquiry by the Justice Department." (emphasis added)

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