Witnesses testify at Homan Square hearing

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A Chicago Police facility under fire for the alleged abuse of detainees is back in the spotlight. Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin held a hearing Tuesday to shed light on the situation and to call for change.

Among those testifying, two men who claimed they were illegally held at the facility and denied basic rights by the arresting officer.

“I repeated my request for a phone call so I could call a lawyer. I also repeated my request to use the bathroom. He once again got up and walked towards the door and with a smile he said, you can ask for a lawyer all you want, you're not getting one till tomorrow, you're going to jail,” said Marc Freeman.

Another man said police arrested him and tried to pressure him into becoming a police informant.

“There they interrogated me, asking me things that I had no idea about, for murder and you know, if I know where any guns are and things of that nature. And I sat in that room, and they turned the temperature up and I was zip-tied to a bench,” said Kory Wright.

A Guardian Newspaper investigation found that, using police department records, more than 7000 people, most minorities, have been detained at Homan Square during the past decade.

“There exists a double standard in Chicago where the citizens are held accountable if they break laws, but the police are not,” Freeman said.

County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who chairs the Human Rights Committee and called the hearing, took a shot at the Mayor's office for what he called failures to act on problems of race and policing.

“It has fallen to us on the county side of the building to shine a light in dark place. One of those dark places is Homan Square,” Boykin said.

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement:

"We have been clear about this for many months. The allegations regarding Homan square and CPD's operations there are completely false, and even a number of independent experts and lawyers have discounted the claims,” said spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Boykin said the murder of Laquan McDonald, and what he called the subsequent cover-up, casts doubts on the police departments' repeated denials about wrongdoing at Homan Square.

Others called for the Justice Department investigation of the Police to include that facility.

“You can't really look at comprehsively patterns and practices of police brutality and police accountability without looking at Homan Square,” said civil rights attorney Flint Taylor.

Earlier this month, the mayor’s office appointed a task force to look into police department practices and police-community relations. The Justice Department has also launched a probe into the patterns and practices within the department, but did not intend to include Homan Square as part of that investigation.