A day after the Guardian exposed the first in a series of allegations of incommunicado detention and abuse at the Chicago police facility known as Homan Square, Cook County commissioner Richard Boykin sent a letter to the US Department of Justice. Citing what he likened to “CIA or Gestapo tactics”, Boykin joined officials and human-rights groups from the nation’s capital to the west side of Chicago in calling for a federal investigation into the secretive site.

In the three weeks since, Boykin has taken an “eerily quiet” police-guided tour of the compound, as protesters well beyond Chicago call for formal inspections and a full-on shutdown, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department remain in denial ahead of a runoff election next month. Nor has there been a peep from the feds.

So on Wednesday, Boykin and US congressman Danny Davis found themselves walking into the justice department in Washington, acting under a new unofficial capacity: mailmen.

The duo hand-delivered pleas to the attorney general, Eric Holder, for “an immediate investigation” into Homan Square, and suggested that off-the-books interrogation may be a lever for long-sought justice on Chicago police abuse – and that questions over the secretive facility will not go unanswered.

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