St. George: Louisiana's newest city

The municipality will have nearly 100,000 people, many of whom have been fighting for years to make the new city a reality.

Louisiana has a new city: St. George. The municipality, whose creation was recently approved, will have nearly 100,000 people, many of whom have been fighting to make this new city a reality since 2013.

St. George was previously part of Baton Rouge and will include some of the township's wealthiest residents. At first, they were opposed by Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Broome, who ultimately accepted the decision by the citizens of what is now St. George to separate. With the support of the Louisiana Supreme Court, St. George will finally be made official, encompassing a 60-square-mile area in the southeastern East Baton Rouge Parish. The decision was celebrated by one of the main leaders of the movement, lawyer Andrew Murrell, as reported by Fox News:

This is the culmination of citizens exercising their constitutional rights. We voted and we won. Whether you are for or you are against St. George, now is your opportunity, a historic opportunity, to create a city from the beginning, from the ground up. It's your ideas, it's your policies, it's your way of life and now you can come together and put those out there and have someone accountable to you. Now we begin the process of delivering on our promises of a better city. We welcome both our friends and foes to the table to create St. George.

The city does not yet have its own school district. However, Murrell assured, solving this issue is one of the next issues that the new municipality of St. George will tackle:

No. 1, we created a city. We have not created a school district. They are two distinct separate animals. They have separate budgets, separate leadership structures. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you what’s next on the agenda would be the creation of the St. George school district, which is long overdue in a parish that is near dead last in a state that is near dead last in the country in education.

St. George, a racist city?

The creation of St. George is also surrounded by controversy. The fact that the inhabitants who will reside in the new city are mostly white and wealthy and sought to create the new city to reduce the crime rate in the area has put St. George in the spotlight. There are voices that claim that the new city is an excuse for racist people to congregate in the same place and prevent black citizens from being part of it. Many social media users echoed this opinion:

Supporters of St. George deny being a racist city. They say they are simply seeking to improve education and reduce crime in the area. For this, they consider that creating the new town could be a solution. This was stated by Murrell, in statements reported by The Post Millennial:

We are open for everyone. If you want more opportunity, you want a better life, you want a chance for lower crime: St. George. I don't care what you look like, no one does. No one ever did. That's a narrative that was created as a smokescreen to rally people into a cause. It's never been true. We're ready to move forward. We've had a goal the entire time, two goals: create a world class city that everyone can be proud of that's accountable to its citizens, and second, make a better East Baton Rouge Parish. A parish that’s on the decline with a high crime rate, a poor education system and people leaving in record numbers to go to other parishes who are benefitting from those citizens. We had two goals, better city, better parish, and now we move forward in that process.

Reactions from politicians

St. George hasn't had an easy path. One of its main opponents, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Broome opposed its creation at first. As recalled by The New York Post, at that time, she was against the creation of the city and went so far as to sue the group, alleging that the division would cause the diversion of more than $48 million in annual tax revenue from the local government.

However, she has now changed her opinion and, in statements reported by The New York Times, stated that she was only seeking "a united Baton Rouge": "My goal from the very beginning — and it will always be my goal — is to advocate for a united Baton Rouge. I am committed to serving the residents of St. George," Broome said.