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Pfleger, activist Ja’Mal Green call for dropping charges against Dread Head Cowboy

But Tuesday night, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office approved a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, state police said, and he remains in custody ahead of a bond hearing Wednesday.

Adam Hollingsworth, 33, otherwise known as “The Dread Head Cowboy,” greets a Chicago Police officer as he rides his horse Prince in the Loop
Adam Hollingsworth, 33, otherwise known as The Dreadhead Cowboy, greets a Chicago police officer as he rides his horse Prince in the Loop, Tuesday afternoon, June 16, 2020.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Father Michael Pfleger and activist Ja’Mal Green called for authorities to release Adam Hollingsworth — better known as the Dread Head Cowboy — from police custody and drop charges against him for riding a horse on the Dan Ryan Expressway during Monday’s evening rush as a form of protest against kids getting shot in Chicago.

“I’m with the Cowboy 100% and I think these charges need to be dropped” Pfleger, who led 5,000 people onto the Dan Ryan in 2018 to protest violence, told the Chicago Sun-Times in a phone call Tuesday.

“I think we need to do a whole lot more disruption of shopping and traffic and business as usual until we deal with this violence.”

But Tuesday night, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office approved a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, state police said. Hollingsworth remains in custody ahead of a bond hearing Wednesday.

He had already been charged with misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct, disobeying a police officer, obstructing traffic and criminal trespass to state supported property, according to Illinois State police.

Adam Hollingsworth
Adam Hollingsworth
Illinois State Police

Another man, 55-year-old Darron Luster, was arrested for obstructing and resisting arrest while allegedly trying to gain control of the horse, state police said. He was released after posting bond.

The horse Hollingsworth rode was injured, and will be taken to a temporary shelter by Chicago Animal Care and Control for treatment. State police said it was bleeding from one hoof, and another was injured. The right side of the horse’s body had sores from the saddle.

“I trusted that he knew what was best for the horse. If the horse was injured in any way, obviously, I don’t want that. I’m sorry about that,” Pfleger said.

Green also spoke out in support of Hollingsworth during a news conference early Tuesday outside the far South Side police station where he is being held.

Green pointed to Pfleger’s highway shutdown two years ago — and the fact that he was not charged for the action — and said state police are picking and choosing who they arrest and charge for the disruptive form of protest.

Pfleger has “a little bit more influence” and is better connected than Hollingsworth, Green said.

Pfleger disagreed.

“We had planned that for a couple of months and had about 5,000 people at that protest, which is a little different. I don’t think it’s necessarily about power and influence” he said, adding that negotiations with law enforcement came down to the last second when authorities agreed to let them march on half of the Dan Ryan’s northbound lanes.

Hollingsworth also met with authorities to try to get the OK to ride on the Dan Ryan.

Before the new charge Tuesday night, Green said he hoped Hollingsworth would face no additional charges for animal abuse.

“I understand the animal rights activists, who say what they say about the horse, Nunu, being injured...but what I want you to understand is that human rights matter as well,” Green said, referring to children who’ve been shot and a lack of opportunities for kids in parts of city where violence regularly occurs.

Hollingsworth posted video of his ride on Facebook Live, which was also captured by news helicopters. In his posts, Hollingsworth — who has ridden his horse to multiple civil rights protests this summer — said “I shut down the Dan Ryan! Kids lives matter!”

The horseman, wearing a shirt with a Batman logo, trotted onto the local lanes about 4:20 p.m. near 63rd Street.

Video posted by ABC7 shows the horse galloping in the right lanes of the highway, surrounded by motorcycles. Later, a Chicago police squad car can be seen driving slowly along side of the horse.

Later, the man can be seen riding the horse up an exit ramp, which police said was 95th Street. As he comes off the expressway, several police cars could be seen waiting for him.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said the incident was a “stunt” that endangered the horse and others on the expressway, and was the wrong way to protest.

Earlier this year, Lightfoot teamed up with Hollingsworth to promote the U.S. Census. Hollingsworth was brought in to ride through South and West Side wards where census responses were lowest in the city.

Green on Tuesday said Hollingsworth quit working with the mayor after a few days because he felt he was “treated unfairly” by the mayor.

“He wasn’t even allowed to take a picture with her...and so he felt that he was used for the census but he wasn’t used for his full potential in what he had to offer,” Green said.

Hollingsworth has become well known for regularly attending protests and other neighborhood gatherings on the South Side on his horse.

Contributing: David Struett