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Author and journalist Kari Lydersen says while the the details of The Guardian’s exposes are certainly disturbing, many communities of color who have been victims of police brutality are not surprised

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. In a major exposé, The Guardian of London is reporting that Chicago police detained Americans and abuse-laden black sites. The headline [streams (?)] “Exclusive: Secret interrogation facility reveals aspects of war on terror in US”. Quote, “‘They disappeared us’: protester details 17-hour shackling without basic rights”, goes on to say, “Accounts describe police brutality, missing 15-year-old and one man’s death”. accounts describe police brutality missing 15-year-old and one man’s death. Well, now joining us from Chicago to discuss this is Kari Lydersen. Kari is a longtime Chicago journalist, the author of Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago’s 99%. Thanks so much for joining us again, Kari. KARI LYDERSEN, AUTHOR OF MAYOR 1%: Thank you. NOOR: So this is an absolutely disturbing story about what’s been happening in Chicago, and it was–on an interesting note, it was broken by The Guardian of London. So talk about what some of the most troubling aspects are for people in Chicago, where this has been happening for years. LYDERSEN: Well, I think the maybe most interesting thing about this story is that you can see how shocking and disturbing it is by the kind of national and international attention it’s gotten. Like you said, the short version is people are being held at this site and allegedly beaten and really mistreated off the books without their family or lawyers being able to find them. So that’s pretty disturbing. And it’s been used both for sort of terrorism-related, that’s really what turned out to be a pretty trumped up sort of Keystone Cops-ish terrorism prosecution in the leadup to the NATO summit. One of the young men who was being charged with terrorism-related crime was held at this place, and then it’s also been a lot of people, apparently, who are more on the gangs and gun violence type charges that have been interrogated there. I think the big-picture significance is that people in Chicago, this story has made a lot of waves, but people are aren’t really surprised. And it’s not really that new compared to this is the city where we had John Burge running basically sort of a torture ring of black suspects, over 100 suspects, doing similar things, and then more recently this news about an officer, Richard Zuley, who went to Guantanamo and used tactics that he’d been using in Chicago. So I think even more than the shock at the fact that this place would exist, the more significant thing is it’s just same story continues in Chicago, even after John Burge has gone to prison and gotten out, and even after we’ve had Gary McCarthy, the superintendent who’s supposed to have this very clinical, data-focused, scientific technique. You know, these strong-arm off-the-books type things are still happening in Chicago. NOOR: And there’s been a series of exposés in the last few months about how police are committing acts of brutality with complete impunity. The city will pay off these civil lawsuits and the police officers will stay on the job. And so you’re saying this is just kind of more of the same and people aren’t that surprised in Chicago. LYDERSEN: Yeah. I mean, the same thing with the brutality in the settlements. That’s been going on for many years. You can go back a decade been find tallies of the millions, many millions of dollars that the city has spent on brutality settlements for wrongful killings and beatings. So I think the big story is that it continues, and especially in the post-Ferguson–the kind of movements that are sweeping the country against police misconduct. There’s definitely growing grassroots movements in Chicago. But it will be interesting to see what people in the city are able to make of this latest news and put it in the context with all our past misconduct and just let the increasing ignorant distrust in the communities most affected. And I think this story is getting a lot of attention because of the terrorism involved, because of the parallels to CIA black sites and the fact that at least one person on terrorism-related charges was held there. And those are very important angles. But I think it’s maybe even more important to just remember that people who weren’t held on terrorism charges, mostly black people, have for years been getting this kind of treatment in Chicago. NOOR: Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us. LYDERSEN: Thank you. NOOR: Thank you for joining us at The Real News Network.


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Kari Lydersen, a Chicago journalist and author, wrote "Mayor One Percent" to explore what Rahm Emanuel's leadership means for Chicago -- including the way he has galvanized the city's labor movement and fueled a debate about economic priorities. Lydersen specializes in covering labor, energy, environment and immigration stories. Until 2009 she worked for The Washington Post out of the Midwest Bureau; she's also written for The New York Times, People Magazine, WBEZ public radio and other outlets. She currently works for the Medill Watchdog Project at Northwestern University and is working on an ebook about the closing of Chicago's two coal-fired power plants.