CHICAGO — Activists have blocked off the entrance to the Chicago Police Department's Homan Square facility in North Lawndale, temporarily transforming the site into "Freedom Square."
Groups like Black Youth Project 100, Black Lives Matter and the Let Us Breathe collective joined in to chain themselves together in front of the facility, considered the police department's "black site" where suspects are allegedly interrogated and detained for hours without legal representation, media reports have said.
The group has temporarily dubbed the space "Freedom Square" and said the city should not be funding sites like Homan Square, 1011 S. Homan Ave., that they say violates the rights of suspects.
"The city spends hundreds of millions of dollars on police while schools and essential services that keep black communities safe are being cut and closed," Black Youth Project 100 spokeswoman Kirsten Brockenborough said. "This city should not be investing dollars into a police force that has committed racially-motivated violence and has had a hand in destabilizing black communities."
Beyond blocking the entrance, protesters made the site a defacto block party. One group set up a table with free food and drinks for the activists.
The protest was part of a nationwide effort called #FreedomNow Day, where young, black activists staged similar protests in cities throughout the country to call for more humane policing and investment into black communities. Similar actions were taking place in Detroit, New Orleans and elsewhere, the groups said.
At the Homan Square site, activists used chains and tubing to band themselves together in front of the facility, according to media reports and social media. In front of the protesters lay signs that say "fund black futures" rather than fund policing sites.
"Homan Square is one of CPD's many human rights violations against the black community," according to a news release from the Black Youth Project. "The CPD police state and Chicago City Council legislators have continuously harmed and destabilized North Lawndale, the black community in which Homan Square resides."
The crowd outside the police building was asked three times to disperse, according to activist social media accounts. Some activists said police were making arrests and using bolt cutters to remove those chained together.
Police could not immediately verify if arrests were made and did not have any further comment.
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