“Census Cowboy” horse may need to be euthanized following 7-mile protest run, prosecutors say

Adam Hollingsworth poses to promote the 2020 Census in July. | Facebook

A Chicago man who was cast by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as the “Census Cowboy” whipped and kicked his exhausted and injured horse to make it continue running down the Dan Ryan Expressway on Monday afternoon, prosecutors say. The horse, named NuNu, is in critical condition and may have to be destroyed, according to allegations made during a bond hearing today.

Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Deboni said Adam Hollingsworth’s horse was not equipped with shoes when he took it “trotting for miles” in a “Kids’ Lives Matter” protest, injuring the horse’s legs and feet.

NuNu collapsed at one point, but Hollingsworth whipped it to keep it moving, Deboni said. Two veterinarians who later examined the horse said it “suffered greatly, bled profusely,” collapsed repeatedly, and was not correctly saddled and cushioned, according to Deboni. NuNu collapsed repeatedly during treatment, the state said.

Hollingsworth posted a Facebook video on June 11 “saying he’s going to ride his horse til it dies,” Deboni said.

After the 7-plus mile run, the animal’s heart was racing at twice its normal rate, and its eyes were so dilated, they “looked like cartoon eyes,” he continued.

Both veterinarians concluded that NuNu would have died had medial attention not been given. Yet, the horse remains in critical condition. It “will never be deemed suitable to ride again, and euthanasia may be utilized for humane reasons due to the suffering the animal will likely endure for the rest of its life,” Deboni told Cook County Judge David Navarro.

One veterinarian reportedly told investigators that NuNu’s treatment was equivalent to “making an 80-year-old woman run a full marathon,” according to Deboni.

Prosecutors charged Hollingsworth with animal cruelty, reckless conduct, trespass to state land, and traffic violations.

Emily Bock, his public defender, disputed the extent of any injuries the animal may have received and said Hollingsworth is “known for” riding horses. NuNu was well-fed, and saddle sores are common, she countered.  Bock said experts disagree about whether horses need to be shod to walk on concrete.

Hollingsworth is married, a father of one, and “a pillar in the community,” Bock said as she asked Navarro to release the 33-year-old on a recognizance bond.

“Your attorney referred to a protest,” Navarro said after hearing from the attorneys. “The horse doesn’t know that it’s part of a protest.” Navarro said the treatment described by prosecutors “appears criminal” as he recounted allegations that NuNu collapsed and was beaten to get up.

“Reference is made to the census,” Navarro told Hollingsworth. “I don’t know what any of this has to do with the promotion of the census…[it appears] more related to the promotion of yourself.”

The judge then set bail at $25,000. Hollingsworth went home a few hours later after posting a $2,500 deposit bond.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com