"Peace activist Marv Davidov dies" Star Tribune -
by Randy Furst • 612-673-4224
He was nationally known for demonstrations against Honeywell, which
made cluster bombs used in
Marv Davidov, an iconic figure in the
founded and led the Honeywell Project in a decades-long campaign to
halt the production of anti-personnel weapons by the Honeywell Corp.,
died Saturday afternoon at
Davidov, who also was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s
and beyond, was 80, and had suffered from a number of health problems.
A chain smoker until recent years, he was an immediately recognizable
figure at protests, with his large mustache, blue skipper's cap,
almost always wearing a T-shirt with a protest slogan on it.
In 1983, nearly 600 protesters were arrested outside Honeywell's
Minneapolis headquarters in a civil disobedience action, the type of
demonstration that Davidov and his allies had organized so many times
that it was honed to a fine art.
For years during the Vietnam War era, Davidov carried around a
deactivated cluster bomb, the size of a softball, to show anyone who
would listen that Honeywell was creating weapons being used by the
Honeywell eventually spun off its defense contract work to Alliant Techsystems.
Davidov estimated that he was arrested 40 or 50 times, mainly in
antiwar and civil rights demonstrations.
He was one of the original Freedom Riders, young people who rode on
buses through the South in 1961 to desegregate bus transportation and
He and five other white youths from the Twin Cities were arrested at a
blacks-only lunch counter in a Greyhound bus station in
In a hospital room interview Thursday, Davidov, although sedated with
pain medication for a worsening circulatory problem, spoke with
animation about being locked up for 40 days with other civil rights
demonstrators at a
were incarcerated together, he said.
"We were the first group of integrated prisoners in
prison history," Davidov said with a smile.
'An inspiration to many'
In an autobiography he wrote with Carol Masters, he described himself
as a "nonviolent revolutionary."
One of Davidov's admirers was Daniel Ellsberg, the White House
consultant who leaked the Pentagon Papers about
peace activist, helped raise money for the Honeywell Project at Davidov's invitation.
"Thanks to people like him, we're still hanging on as a species,"
Ellsberg said. "His nonviolence and his indefatigability and energy
are an inspiration to many people.
"He's lived a good life, and I told him so" when he spoke to Davidov
by phone on Friday, Ellsberg said.
Last week, as Davidov's medical condition worsened, a number of peace
activist friends kept a hospital vigil. "It's one of those great
things that happens," Davidov said. "This kind of solidarity and love
and support that people give one another."
John LaForge, an antiwar activist friend, had brought a small
refrigerator to his room with a bumper sticker on it that read, "No
Bill Tilton, a St. Paul attorney, said he first met Davidov in 1969 at
a sit-in at the
American Action Committee, which was demanding more scholarships for
"Marv is one of my heroes," Tilton said. "He never took his eye off
the ball of advocating for the rights of the underprivileged and
accountability of government."
For years Davidov taught a class on "active nonviolence" at the
with him, said, "There was a warmth that came across when he related
to students, a deeply respectful interaction in which Marv would share
parts of his life story that awakened within students a possibility
that they too could impact society."
Barbara Mishler said she got to know Davidov when she took a class of
his at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in south
"When I first met him, I was so terrified of nuclear war," she
recalls. "He said, 'Settle down and read and inform yourself, before
you hit the streets.' "
Nothing to say? Hardly
Lying in bed, barely able to sit up on Thursday, Davidov welcomed a reporter.
Asked if he had any thoughts that he'd like to pass on to young
people, Davidov thought for a moment, smiled and said, "I've been
waiting for this interview my entire life, and now I've got nothing to
But as anyone who has ever known Davidov knows, he was never really at
a loss for words, including on Thursday.
On the current presidential election campaign: "It reminds me of one
of the books that Paul Goodman wrote in the 1950s -- 'Growing Up
Absurd.' Once again the needs of the people who have most everything
are satisfied first."
In this election year: "Find the people in your community who are
probing reality and talking about how to fundamentally change it and
work at a local level on these problems, creating peace, freedom and
On the Occupy protests against Wall Street: "I thought it was great.
The people were locating what their needs were and going out in the
streets without compromise."
On the kind of memorial gathering he'd like: "I want people to
remember and tell funny stories about me and the struggle, and try to
create a deeper, more profound movement and build the numbers."
He is survived by a brother, Jerry Davidov, a retired
firefighter. Services are pending with the Cremation Society of