The last significant secession in the United States occurred in the mid-1800s, when the Confederacy formed in the Southern States and caused the American Civil War. Since then, several attempts at secession by local cities and areas have been proposed, such as Staten Island’s attempt to separate from New York City or the San Fernando Valley’s vote to secede from Los Angeles. Most of these attempts, including those two mentioned, have failed. The proposals, however, have continued. Several counties in Colorado want to separate from the more liberal counties with which they share a state government. The state of Texas proposed a petition that would allow the state to secede from its governing nation. That petition, of course, ultimately failed, but as long as borders and nations exist, the idea that they should be something different will exist, as well.
A new push for secession has recently emerged in Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge. Residents of the area that had been pushing state legislators for a new school district are now refocusing their efforts, aiming to siphon off a section of the city and rename it St. George.
Those that support the separation claim that education is still the main priority. “First and foremost, people want better schools, but what they recognize is that we can have a great city as well,” Norman Browning, a St. George organizer, told The Advocate.
If St. George becomes a separate city, it will “carve off a quarter of the residents in areas covered by the city-parish government but take 40 percent of the sales tax revenue,” according to a study by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. That study argues that the secession of St. George would result in a massive hit to Baton Rouge’s economy, mostly because the area is primarily affluent and contains a large amount of the current city’s retail market. Even if the city is separated, Baton Rouge residents are likely to continue shopping there, and therefore contributing sales tax revenue to an entirely different city. The Mall of Louisiana would reside in St. George.
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The separation would also have racial implications. Raw Story indicates that the northern, urban areas of Baton Rouge consist of primarily black residents, while St. George would be a “wealthy, white and suburban” city. Because both areas currently constitute the larger, overarching city of Baton Rouge, specific statistics to back up these claims are difficult to pin down. Nevertheless, the issue of separation is certain to be a contentious one throughout the city as well as throughout the state of Louisiana.