03:43 GMT +308 December 2019
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    Chicago Police Torture Whistleblower Tells About Life After Jail

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    Brian Church, a protester who blew the whistle on secret interrogation sites run by the Chicago Police Department (CPD), could not find a place to live after he was released from prison last November, he told Sputnik.

    CHICAGO (Sputnik) – Church was arrested in 2012 as part of the so-called NATO Three activist group, who the CPD initially accused of planning terrorist and arson attacks in Chicago during the 2012 NATO summit that was held there.

    He spent over 700 days in police custody and was eventually convicted of the felony counts of possession of Molotov cocktails and misdemeanor mob action.

    "I couldn't find a place to stay," Church said. "I initially started off in a halfway home."

    At one point, Brian Church was held at the CPD's notorious interrogation site at Homan Square in Chicago's West Side. He told Sputnik he had been handcuffed to a bench for 17 hours straight while only being allowed to use the bathroom and eat food twice.

    Yet his release on November 1, 2014 was not the end of his ordeal. Church said that his transition back to life outside prison has been difficult since he did not have much money or know many people. An anonymous support committee raised $400 to help Church get back on his feet.

    Church told Sputnik he met a counselor while in prison who helped him get into the first halfway house. However, securing a place in a second halfway house turned out to be impossible, and the whistleblower ended up being left homeless.

    The 23-year-old now lives in Chicago. He has been unable to find a job due to his prison conviction and gets by on $60 a week, which he receives from his family in Florida.

    Church said he is glad of the financial and emotional support of his family and friends. "It's a safe space for me," the whistleblower said. "The neighborhood treats me like family, and it's really family oriented."

    The secretive interrogation facility, first uncovered by The Guardian in February, is just the latest example of questionable police practices in the CPD to come to light since a group of Chicago detectives led by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was found to have tortured prisoners throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s in order to coerce confessions from them.

    The CPD has refuted evidence that physical violence formed part of suspect interrogations; instead it emphasized the facility's role as a special unit headquarters.

    Related:

    Systematic Police Torture Reportedly Continues in Chicago
    Chicago Police ‘Often Threaten’ to Take Children From Detainees
    Chicago Police Torture in Decline After Decades of Hushed-Up Violence
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    whistleblower, Homan Square, arrest, United States, Chicago
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