Passers-by found the snack animal in Portland’s Waterfront Park late Saturday and covered it with an orange blanket to keep it warm while it slept, the Oregonian newspaper reports. The protesters called in Mary McDonald-Lewis, a local animal rights activist, and together they tried and failed to move the pig with a skateboard ramp.
McDonald-Lewis shared several photos from the effort on her Facebook page.
“These wonderful folks, who had been out protesting all evening, were taking care of the pig as she lay sleeping in a planter bed along the Willamette River,” McDonald-Lewis wrote.
“They had gently covered her with all of their jackets and a small orange blanket, hugging their own arms and willing to be cold, just to warm her.”
McDonald-Lewis says she called several authorities for help but didn’t get a response, so she and the protesters went to their cars and kept watch over the portly porker through the night.
Police in a patrol car spotted the swine stake-out early Sunday and offered their help to eventually take it away.
(NOTE: The video below features the pig being moved. Some readers may find its contents disturbing. Please watch at your own discretion. No animals are harmed in the video.)
The Portland Police Department tweeted photos of the operation on Sunday morning, in which officers can be seen watching over the sleepy pig. Authorities were hoping to find the pig’s owner, although no one has come forward yet. They say the pig appeared to have been abandoned overnight.
Police announced later on Sunday that the pig — whom protesters named “Betty” — had been re-homed with a local farmer thanks to Brian Pelster, another officer on the force.
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“Officer Pelster coordinated Betty’s ride to her new home this morning,” police tweeted, along with an image of Pelster and the pig.
The feel-good moment came at a time of tremendous tension between Portland police and those protesting the death of George Floyd. Protesters held two peaceful demonstrations over the weekend but a third march on Sunday night turned violent, with protesters occasionally throwing bottles at police and police firing tear gas, flash-bang grenades and bean bags into the crowds. Police also arrested 20 people.
Police Chief Jami Resch stepped down from her job the next day amid fierce criticism for cracking down on the protests.
Those tensions appeared to undercut the pig moment over the weekend, after Officer Pelster, who was photographed with the pig, claimed that police saved it from “nut job” protesters in a Facebook post.
“SAV’N LIVES .. ONE HOG AT A TIME !!!” he wrote on Facebook Sunday, according to the Oregonian.
“Last nights (sic) nut jobs decided they were going to sacrifice a pig at the protest and cut its head off. PPB said HELL NO and took custody of the little lady.”
The post appears to have been deleted from his Facebook page, but some people appear to have preserved screenshots of it.
Pelster did not respond to the Oregonian’s request for comment. Police have not released any evidence to support his claims.
McDonald-Lewis also suggested that the pig was meant as a “sacrifice.”
“Someone had brought the pig there to ‘sacrifice it to end all police brutality,'” McDonald-Lewis wrote. She also poked fun at the idea of “cops helping a pig,” and hailed the protesters who cared for the abandoned swine overnight.
“It’s a happy story during a sad time, with protesters, cops, a mom and me uniting to help an innocent pig to safety and sanctuary.”