A man dubbed Chicago’s “Dreadhead Cowboy” allegedly galloped into the waiting arms of police Monday after apparently deciding to ride his horse on the city’s Dan Ryan Expressway in the middle of rush hour.
Adam Hollingsworth, 33, faces charges of obstructing traffic, as well as “reckless conduct, disobeying a police officer, [and] criminal trespass to state supported property,” the Chicago Sun-Times Wire reported, citing Illinois State Police.
He is also being charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, according to The Associated Press. He has denied acting in a cruel manner toward his horse, but acknowledged this week that he may have ridden her for too long.
Over the past few months, Hollingsworth has been a common sight at protests and other events in Chicago, The New York Times reported.
CHICAGO COWBOY: Video shows a man on a horse snarling traffic this evening on the Dan Ryan Expressway on the South Side. https://t.co/Yi7iO6AFCO **Video: Vashon Jordan Jr./@vashon_photo pic.twitter.com/nbHOnSqvc7
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) September 21, 2020
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The owner of four horses, he has enjoyed a certain notoriety and standing.
“You could be the brokest guy in the world, but you pull up on a horse in a black community and everyone thinks you’re rich,” he told The Times for an article published in July.
A participant in multiple protests after the death of George Floyd, Hollingsworth had pitched a planned protest to state and local police involving the expressway, according to state police.
His idea was rejected as dangerous.
But the Sun-Times Wire reported that on Monday, he took his horse and rode down the expressway, streaming himself on Facebook Live as he yelled, “I shut down the Dan Ryan! Kids lives matter!”
Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has supported other protests in the city, said this one was different.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to call attention to issues of great importance and this stunt was decidedly the very wrong way,” she said in a statement.
Lightfoot’s disparaging comments were a far cry from her partnership with Hollingsworth, who she dubbed the “Census Cowboy,” to boost the city’s census count.
“I’m happy to report,” Lightfoot said at a July news conference, reaching under the lectern and pulling out a green cowboy hat, “I’m calling out the Census Cowboy.”
“So, if you see the Census Cowboy coming to your neighborhood, that’s not a good thing,” she said. “That means you got to step up and do your part and make sure that you fill out the census. He’s going to the 10 communities across Chicago that have the lowest census response rate. And it’s time to giddy-up. Let’s do this, Chicago.”
On Monday, Hollingsworth’s ride did not last very long. Police received a call at about 4:30 p.m. that someone was “riding a horse at 47th Street,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
State police said that when officers showed up, they “saw Hollingsworth riding down the interstate, surrounded by motorcycles and vehicles in local lanes,” according to the Tribune. He allegedly refused to get off the highway, and was later ordered off the horse and arrested.
The Setup vs. The Shot pic.twitter.com/enmvz7qGF9
— Vashon ✶ (@vashon_photo) September 21, 2020
Darron Luster, 55, of Chicago, a supporter of Hollingsworth, sought to “forcefully gain control of the horse” after Hollingsworth’s arrest, state police said.
“Luster refused to release the horse and was arrested for obstructing and resisting arrest,” the Tribune reported.
Was this protest a form of animal abuse?
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Police said the horse was bleeding from one hoof and had sustained an injury to another hoof. Authorities also said the horse had sores from the saddle, and temporarily gave the animal to Chicago Animal Care and Control, though it was later taken to a horse rescue in the area, according to WLS-TV.
Some said Hollingsworth was right to take drastic action to draw attention to the plight of children in Chicago.
“He felt like it was necessary to make a big scene,” Joshua Hatchett, a friend of Hollingsworth, told WMAQ-TV. “Sometimes you gotta create a little ruckus to get your voice across.”
Eugene Burnett, who was part of the rider’s motorcycle escort, also expressed support for Hollingsworth.
“We don’t harm or bother anybody,” he said. “Don’t get in the way. Do something for the kids!”
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