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The Baton Rouge Secession Attempt That Could Defund the Police

An affluent corner of East Baton Rouge Parish is trying to incorporate as a new city called St. George. But leaders of the Louisiana capital warn of budget consequences.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome sued to stop a well-off slice of the parish from splitting away.

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome sued to stop a well-off slice of the parish from splitting away.

Photographer: Annie Flanagan for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Ten years ago, a group of residents in the southeast corner of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, began organizing around the idea of turning their unincorporated neighborhoods into a city. In 2019, the group succeeded in winning a ballot referendum, with 54% of the voters in those neighborhoods electing to form the City of St. George.

But less than two weeks after voters approved the measure, the mayor-president of Baton Rouge, Sharon Weston Broome, sued to stop the effort from proceeding. And on May 31, a judge rejected St. George’s cityhood, saying that its formation was “unreasonable” and that it would cause fiscal harm to the parish and the city of Baton Rouge, which have one combined government. (A parish is Louisiana’s equivalent to a county.)