Wealthy White Residents to Form New City After Splitting from Black Neighborhoods, Criticized as Racist

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 30, 2024

After ten years, wealthy white Baton Rouge residents have finally clinched victory in a contentious legal battle to form their own city, St George. 

They aimed to split from poorer, predominantly black neighborhoods, promising better schools and lower crime rates.

Louisiana Supreme Court Greenlights St George

The Louisiana Supreme Court has spoken: St George, encompassing a 60-square-mile area and 86,000 residents, can now officially separate from Baton Rouge. 

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The new city will have its own mayor and city council, a fresh start for its community.

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Why Form St George?

Proponents of St George argue the move was necessary due to Baton Rouge’s high crime and subpar schools.

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They believe a new city governance could turn the tide, improving local administration and educational outcomes.

A 'Racist' Move?

Critics, however, slam the split as racially motivated, fearing it will establish a ‘white enclave’ and deepen racial divides.

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They argue it cuts off a wealthy area from a majority-black city and school district, exacerbating existing inequalities.

The Roots of St George

It all started nearly 15 years ago with a wish for a local school district.

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As ambitions grew, residents drafted a city proposal in 2015, setting the stage for the prolonged battle that would follow.

Second Time's the Charm: St George Vote Passes

Despite initial setbacks, the second vote in 2019 saw 54% of residents backing the St George incorporation.

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This pivotal moment revived the stagnated movement and reignited the fiery legal debates.

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Baton Rouge Leaders Fight Back

Post-vote, Baton Rouge’s Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and Mayor Pro Tem Lamont Cole launched lawsuits against St. George organizers.

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They feared the split would siphon $48 million in tax revenue annually, crippling local services and workforce.

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Lower Courts Side with Baton Rouge

Lower courts initially agreed with the arguments presented by Baton Rouge.

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The proposal was shot down due to financial concerns and potential negative impacts on the remaining areas of Baton Rouge.

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Supreme Court Reverses Lower Court Decisions

However, the state’s Supreme Court eventually overruled these decisions. 

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The court affirmed that St George’s internal budget was balanced and sufficient to provide necessary public services, thereby allowing the incorporation to proceed.

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Community Divided: Residents React

The division has struck a chord among locals. Some, like Sarah Stelly, decry it as a new form of bigotry.

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Others, like Paul Brady, lament the loss of their Baton Rouge identity, feeling they’ve been cast into a “white enclave.”

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Opponents and Proponents Speak Out

M.E. Cormier, an anti-St George campaign leader, predicts logistical nightmares in detangling the cities.

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Meanwhile, St George leaders like Andrew Murrell celebrate what they see as a triumph of citizen rights and promise a brighter future.

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Economic Impacts Loom Large

The Daily Mail reports that a 2014 Baton Rouge Area Chamber study highlighted the severe financial repercussions for Baton Rouge, predicting a $53 million budget shortfall.

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Despite these dire forecasts, St George advocates remain optimistic about their economic and social future.

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