Minneapolis resident Dave Bicking has taken part in demonstrations since the Vietnam War, and at 53 is not slowing down. Bicking will travel next week to Washington, D.C., to join thousands who will march against the Jan. 20 inauguration of George W. Bush.
PULSE: How did you react to the re-election of Bush?
I was not surprised, but I was certainly disappointed. Not primarily because
I thought Kerry would be much better as a president—especially in the
area of war and foreign policy—but because it is disappointing that so
many people believe the lies of the Bush administration, and so many still support
the war and the reactionary “moral” values of the fundamentalists.
But then, Kerry also ran a campaign of lies and war-mongering, so is support
for him much better? The difference, I suppose, is that most Democrats who supported
Kerry did not support his stand on most of the important issues.
PULSE: How will it affect activism? Does the presence of an obvious
right-winger make a better target than if Kerry had been elected, and thus galvanize
BICKING: In the short term, it is easier to oppose Bush because he is
so easy to make fun of. The danger is that it is too easy to “personalize”
our opponent as Bush, the cartoon character, rather than critique the whole
system that he is a front man for. Kerry would have had a honeymoon, but it
would not have taken long for him to show himself as the pro-war president that
he promised to be during the campaign.
Most of the government’s current agenda is truly bipartisan, especially
when it comes to issues of militarism, foreign policy, “free” trade
and civil liberties. In the presidency we can see this, because we still remember
that Clinton supported the murderous sanctions on Iraq, the bombing of both
Iraq and Yugoslavia, and NAFTA and other corporate-friendly trade agreements.
the bipartisan nature of these policies is evident in the Congress, where the
Democrats no longer even pretend to be an opposition party. Especially in the
Senate, votes on the issues I have mentioned are all nearly unanimous.
As anti-war activists, we have consistently opposed the wars of both parties,
and we will continue to do so. One of the main organizers of the counter-inaugural
protests, ANSWER, planned these demonstrations long before the election, and
pledged to demonstrate their opposition to war abroad and repression and racism
at home, no matter who was elected. Personally, I made my decision to go to
D.C. for this protest before I knew who would be elected.
PULSE: What was the first book you read or movement that you got involved
in that shaped your political development?
BICKING: I grew up in a Quaker family, so I have supported the cause
of peace for longer than I can remember. I worked in the Eugene McCarthy presidential
campaign in 1968, before I could even vote. I witnessed such corruption and
big money domination of the two party system that I became totally disillusioned
with electoral politics and any attempt to “work within the system.”
Just after high school, I went to work in an asbestos factory.
Watching workers dying from asbestosis led to my first awareness of issues of
poverty and exploitation within this country. So when I entered college at the
height of the anti-Vietnam war movement, I was immediately drawn to the radical
anti-imperialist stand of SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society.
PULSE: Who is the Anti-War Committee?
The Anti-War Committee is one of the main organizers of anti-war demonstrations
and educational events in the Twin Cities. We have worked closely with many
other excellent local peace groups to organize most of the large demonstrations
against the war in Iraq, both before and after the start of the war. We oppose
U.S. foreign intervention and stand in solidarity with those communities, here
and abroad, who are unjustly and cruelly affected by U.S. foreign policies.
We believe in self-determination and peace through justice. We currently focus
our work on the occupations of Iraq and Palestine, and U.S. military support
We encourage anyone interested in becoming active in anti-war work to contact
us at Info@AntiWarCommittee.org
or 612-379-3899 or to come to our weekly meetings. In addition to supporting
the mobilization of people to go to D.C. for the inaugural, we are also supporting
demonstrations in the Twin Cities on the same day, Jan. 20.
A student protest will take place at noon at Northrup Hall on the U of M East
Bank campus. As part of the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, we will be co-sponsoring
a demonstration in downtown Minneapolis at 4:30 p.m. at the Hennepin County
Government Center Plaza at Third Avenue and Fifth Street. We will also be having
a send-off party on Saturday night, Jan. 15, for those who are going to D.C.
That party will also celebrate our opposition to four more years of the Bush
administration. Contact us for details—all are welcome.
PULSE: How many people do you think are going to Washington from Minn.?
BICKING: It is always hard to say in advance, especially because so many
people have to decide at the last minute. I have myself been in contact with
about two dozen people who are intending to go. Another organizer knows of 15
to 20 who are going. I’m still receiving several inquiries per day. That
leads me to expect a turnout from Minnesota of over 50 people.
The turnout would be much larger if this were a weekend event like most large
national protests. Not nearly as many people have the flexibility to take three
or more days off work.
PULSE: What is the demographic profile of those who are going?
BICKING: I really don’t know. I haven’t met most of the people
that I have exchanged emails with. The very rough impression that I get is that
it is very mixed —a lot of young people are very fired up, as well as
many of the older protesters like myself.
PULSE: Is this your first trip to Washington for a demo?
BICKING: No, I attended one of the huge demonstrations during the Vietnam
War. I have also attended several national demonstrations more recently. But
this is the first time for many of the people I have been in contact with.
PULSE: What transportation are you using?
BICKING: The Anti-War Committee often organizes bus trips for events
like this, but we can not do that this time because the event is on a week day
and too many people just don’t have the freedom to take that much time
off work. So instead of that, we are trying to facilitate carpools or possibly
rented vans. We hope to connect up the people who are interested in going so
that they can make those arrangements with our help.
organizer that I have talked to is trying to take a full bus, but that may not
be possible. It may help to fill that bus if I can refer people to him who want
to leave at the time that that bus would leave. I am hopeful that nearly everyone
who really wants to go will be able to.
Some people are planning to fly to D.C. We would like to be in contact with
them also, so that we can connect with each other once we are there.
PULSE: Is there room for more people? How do they get in contact?
BICKING: Yes! The more the better. Contact me at Dave@AntiWarCommittee.org
or call 612-379-3899. ||