‘We are sorry’: Americans in Switzerland apologize for Trump prior to Davos visit
A group of Americans in Switzerland is staging a public event in Zurich on Saturday to apologize for the “damage that the current US administration is trying to cause around the world”.
Action Together: Zurich has joined forces with Swiss campaigning organization Campax to stage the event at the Werdmühlplatz from 11am-2pm on January 20th.
Americans in the two groups will apologize to passersby for and on behalf of President Trump, and offer information about ways to “resist the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine peace, human rights and environmental justice,” the groups said in a press release.
Though it comes just before Trump’s visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos next week – which has sparked protests around the country – Action Together: Zurich had already planned the event to coincide with the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration and the women’s march in Geneva, where the group was founded with the aim of preserving the American values they believe are "under threat" by Trump's administration.
Speaking to The Local, Alexandra Dufresne of Action Together: Zurich said Saturday's event aimed to be lighthearted and funny, but came from a very real desire to apologize felt by many Americans after Trump was elected.
“Almost all the Americans I’ve spoken to abroad, after the election, after Trump pulled out of the Paris [climate change] accord, we all felt an overwhelming desire to approach strangers and apologize,” she said.
“We were so ashamed and embarrassed, and had such a big impulse to say ‘we are so sorry’. Because he can hurt America but he can also hurt the rest of the world, and as we are a democracy we feel somewhat responsible for that.”
After Trump’s visit to Davos was announced the group teamed up with Campax, organizers of the ‘Trump not welcome’ petition, which already has more than 15,000 signatures online.
Despite the event's anti-Trump stance, Dufresne stressed that Action Together: Zurich is a non-partisan group that includes Republicans as well as Democrats, Swiss as well as Americans, and they would "welcome talking to anyone who comes".
“If people show up who support Trump we would really look forward to a respectful dialogue. It’s really important that everyone does their best to dismantle the barriers between Americans and get out of their own bubble,” she said.
The event comes as a wave of Trump protest demonstrations precedes the president's visit to Davos. Last Saturday several hundred anti-capitalists marched through Bern, with other protests planned in Geneva, Zurich and Davos.
Last week the US embassy warned American citizens to “keep a low profile” and “avoid the areas of the demonstrations”.
“I appreciate the US embassy is concerned about our safety. I have some concern about the wording of the announcement which could be interpreted as discouraging Americans from protesting,” Dufresne told The Local in response.
“I assume that was an unfortunate mistake in their wording and the US government would never intend in any way to discourage its citizens from the free speech that is so valued in America.”
Dufresne said she wasn’t concerned about safety during the event on Saturday.
“None of us has experienced any anti-Americanism. We are so lucky to live in a safe country and we have no concerns,” she said.