Sacramento and swiss sister city Liestal need to talk about their history


After the attack on the now removed statue of the founder of Sacramento John Sutter, the Young Socialist Party of the swiss canton of Baselland launched an action in Sutters hometown to draw attention to the fact that John Sutter was a slave owner and child trader. Now, they want Sacramento and its sister city Liestal (Switzerland), capital city of the canton of Baselland, to use their partnership to remember Sutters victims and educate the citizens of both places.

About two weeks ago, the Young Socialist Party (JUSO) in the swiss canton of Baselland called for “General” Sutter monument in Rüneberg, the hometown of Sacramento founder John Sutter, to be rededicated in honour of his victims. Johann August Sutter was better known as John Sutter. He got rich through child trafficking and slavery. JUSO denounced his unreflected glorification. In doing so, it brought nationwide discussions about statues, monuments and the unresolved colonial history of Switzerland.

JUSO is also bringing the debate to both the capital city of Baselland Liestal and Sacramento. Anna Holm, President of JUSO Baselland, explains: “Our racist past must be discussed and dealt with, because racism is still deeply rooted in our society and influences our thinking and actions today”. JUSO member of Liestal’s residents council Joel Bühler demands that the partnership between Sacramento and Liestal be used to reappraise colonial history and to educate the population of both cities about slavery, racism and the genocide of California’s indigenous population.

He submitted a postulate to the Liestal’s residents council on Tuesday. “We must admit to our people that we have failed to critically assess our history so far.” explains Bühler. He said it was important to address Sutter’s racist past, but also the structural racism that has existed since Switzerland and the USA have been founded. In his postulate, he also makes some suggestions as to how this clarification could look like. He suggests joint exhibitions, film or art promotion projects.