Man Protests Rodeo's Treatment Of Animals

January 12, 2001

The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)


Steve Hindi doesn't go halfway when he tries to make a point; the animal-rights activist once zapped himself with a cattle prod to demonstrate how painful the instrument is.

Seeking to undermine local support for the National High School Finals Rodeo, which took place at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last summer and is returning this year, Hindi put on a video display outside the state Capitol Thursday evening to illustrate his contention that cattle are mistreated in rodeo competitions.

It was no ordinary video, though. Hindi parked a truck with four large TV screens on each side along Monroe Street next to the Statehouse. Shown were scenes of a steer roping competition.

"The technical term is steer roping. The aficionados call it steer busting, and I think it's obvious why," Hindi said as the video showed a calf being dragged by its neck across the dirt, tongue hanging out and eyes bulging.

As the video played, signs above each screen displayed the words, "Gov. Ryan, rodeos are cruel. Gov. Ryan, cruelty is illegal."

About a third of the footage was shot at the high school rodeo in Springfield last summer, though not by Hindi, he said.

"They know me," Hindi said, adding that he simply wants to see Illinois' law enforced.

"The same law that protects your dog or your cat applies to rodeo animals. There is no distinction," Hindi said. "Now if you did this to somebody's dog, what would be the ramifications of that? Do you think you'd be arrested? I think you'd be arrested."

Local rodeo fans may remember Hindi from anti-rodeo press conferences he held last summer. Advocates of the sport counter that his videos show only what he wants them to show.

"I don't think he has any right condemning what these children do. They're not hurting animals," said Betty McCarrel of Rochester, who with her husband, Gary, volunteered at last summer's youth rodeo.

"There's a veterinarian there 24 hours a day, a vet for horses and a vet for all the livestock," she said. "All the livestock gets checked three to four times a day by the vet. We did not lose a single animal last year."

Hindi, 46, a suburban Chicago resident who founded the organization Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), has protested rodeos in Illinois since the early 1990s. SHARK is only a few years old and the truck, dubbed the Tiger Truck, is the group's latest addition.

Thursday, Hindi drove the truck from to Springfield from Detroit, where he had set up outside a Chrysler convention to protest the company's sponsorship of rodeos via its Dodge trucks line.

The owner of an industrial fastener manufacturing company, Hindi has taken the video truck to rodeos in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs and Kansas City. And he plans to be on hand for next summer's high school rodeo finals in Springfield.

SHARK's Web site is