The Chicago man known as the “Dreadhead Cowboy” is facing charges after he rode his horse onto the Dan Ryan Expressway Monday, and his actions have inspired strong reactions on both sides in that ride’s aftermath.
Adam Hollingsworth, who has achieved notoriety for riding his horse at protests this year and as part of a campaign to improve census participation that was launched by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, rode his horse onto the highway in a slow-speed chase during rush hour Monday, drawing a crowd of motorcycles and other vehicles as he made his way down the highway.
Hollingsworth indicated that his ride was designed to draw attention to the children being hurt by violence in the city.
“Kids’ lives matter!” Hollingsworth, who broadcast part of his ride on social media, said.
Traffic was backed up as a result of the ride, with Illinois State Police ultimately convincing him to exit the interstate at 95th Street. He was taken into custody by authorities, and now faces several charges in connection with the incident.
Now, his friends are voicing their support for his actions.
“He felt like it was necessary to make a big scene,” Joshua Hatchett, a friend of Hollingsworth, said. “Sometimes you gotta create a little ruckus to get your voice across.”
Eugene Burnett, one of the motorcyclists who rode alongside Hollingsworth, also supported his actions.
“We don’t harm or bother anybody,” he said. “Don’t get in the way. Do something for the kids!”
The “cowboy’s" actions didn’t win universal acclaim by any stretch. A large number of social media comments quickly focused on the way Hollingsworth was cantering his horse for miles on the pavement of the interstate. Illinois State Police say the animal was bleeding from one of its front hooves when it was given to Chicago Animal Care and Control officers, and suffered an injury to another hoof during the ride.
Mayor Lightfoot, who dubbed Hollingsworth the “Census Cowboy” during an event earlier this year, was also critical of the ride, describing it as a “stunt” that endangered the horse and those on the highway.
“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.
Needless to say, the debate will continue to rage on after the incident, but the “Dreadhead Cowboy’s” supporters are still behind him.
“It was a peaceful protest. We weren’t breaking into stores,” Burnett said. “We’re trying to give back to the neighborhood and to change people’s minds.”