|1968 candidate for President of the United States|
|Political party||Youth International Party|
Pigasus, also known as Pigasus the Immortal and Pigasus J. Pig, was a 145-pound (66 kg) domestic pig that was nominated for President of the United States as a theatrical gesture by the Youth International Party on August 23, 1968, just before the opening of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The youth-oriented party (whose members were commonly called "Yippies") was an anti-establishment and countercultural revolutionary group whose views were inspired by the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s, mainly the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
Yippies were known for using dramatic theatrics in their demonstrations, and they used Pigasus as a way to mock the social status quo. At a rally announcing his candidacy, Pigasus was confiscated by Chicago policemen and several of his Yippie backers were arrested for disorderly conduct. It was acknowledged that activist singer Phil Ochs purchased the Pigasus pig for the campaign, in the Illinois countryside.
Campaign for U.S. President
Selected for the campaign by group members Dennis Dalrymple, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, candidate Pigasus was purchased from a farmer by folk-singer and fellow Yippie Phil Ochs. His candidacy was announced during the massive protests leading up to and during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The Yippies demanded that Pigasus be treated as a legitimate candidate, with U.S. Secret Service protection and White House foreign policy briefings.
One reason why the Yippies preferred Pigasus was that "if we can't have him in the White House, we can have him for breakfast."
Press conference and arrests
The nomination of Pigasus for president occurred on the morning of August 23, 1968, at the Chicago Civic Center (subsequently renamed as the Richard J. Daley Center) in front of the Picasso sculpture.
Pigasus was transported to the rally in a station wagon, escorted by seven Yippies. There were 50 Yippies carrying campaign signs and handing out literature. There were about 200 spectators on hand, along with ten uniformed Chicago policemen and several detectives, under the personal supervision of 1st District Commander James Riordan. The pig was placed in a police wagon and taken to the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society.
Jerry Rubin was in the process of reading the "acceptance speech" for him when Pigasus was "arrested" by the police. Seven Yippies, including Jerry Rubin and Phil Ochs, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The driver of the station wagon was also charged with obstructing traffic. Rubin later said that a policeman came to the jail cell and said "You guys are all going to jail for the rest of your lives—the pig squealed on you!" However, the Yippies were released after each posted a $25 bond.
Pigasus and the Yippies were charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and bringing a pig to Chicago. At the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial, defense counsel William Kunstler accused the Democratic Party of doing exactly the same thing.
In addition to singer/songwriter and Youth International Party activist Phil Ochs, numerous members of the Youth International Party testified to the seriousness with which Pigasus had been vetted and briefed, in preparation for his campaign.
Phil Ochs' testimony:
MR. KUNSTLER: After you arrived in Chicago did you have any discussion with Jerry [Rubin]?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I did. We discussed the nomination of a pig for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what you said and what Jerry said.
THE WITNESS: We discussed the details. We discussed going out to the countryside around Chicago and buying a pig from a farmer and bringing him into the city for the purposes of his nominating speech.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have any role yourself in that?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I helped select the pig, and I paid for him.
MR. KUNSTLER: Now, did you find a pig at once when you went out?
THE WITNESS: No, it was very difficult. We stopped at several farms and asked where the pigs were.
MR. KUNSTLER: None of the farmers referred you to the police station, did they?
THE WITNESS: No.
MR. FORAN: Objection.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state what, if anything, happened to the pig?
THE WITNESS: The pig was arrested with seven people.
MR. KUNSTLER: When did that take place?
THE WITNESS: This took place on the morning of August 23, at the Civic Center underneath the Picasso sculpture.
MR. KUNSTLER: Who were those seven people?
THE WITNESS: Jerry Rubin. Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, myself is four; I am not sure of the names of the other three.
MR. KUNSTLER: What were you doing when you were arrested?
THE WITNESS: We were arrested announcing the pig's candidacy for President.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did Jerry Rubin speak?
THE WITNESS: Yes, Jerry Rubin was reading a prepared speech for the pig---the opening sentence was something like, "I, Pigasus, hereby announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States." He was interrupted in his talk by the police who arrested us. ...
MR. KUNSTLER: Do you remember what you were charged with?
THE WITNESS: I believe the original charge mentioned was something about an old Chicago law about bringing livestock into the city, or disturbing the peace, or disorderly conduct, and when it came time for the trial, I believe the charge was disorderly conduct.
MR. KUNSTLER: Were you informed by an officer that the pig had squealed on you?
MR. FORAN: Objection. I ask it be stricken.
THE WITNESS: Yes.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection. When an objection is made do not answer until the Court has ruled. . .
After the 1968 Democratic convention
Sources vary on the fate of Pigasus. There is some speculation that a police officer ate him.
The Chicago Tribune, on September 30, 1968, said that after Pigasus was taken into custody by Chicago police, they transported him to the Anti-Cruelty Society, along with a sow called "Mrs. Pigasus", and a piglet, all collected after being paraded by the Yippies as part of their demonstrations around the time of the convention. The swine were later transferred to a farm in Grayslake, Illinois.
Many years later, The New York Times obituaries for Dennis Dalrymple, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin all highlighted the nomination of Pigasus for President during the Democratic Convention of 1968 as an extraordinary moment in political theater.
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