A map of the proposed city of St George
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Rich white suburbs wants to split from Baton Rouge

More than 18,000 residents in the suburbs south of Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana, have signed a petition calling for the creation of a new city called St George.

The community is currently part of East Baton Rouge Parish, which also includes the city of Baton Rouge itself.

The campaigners claim they simply want to improve the quality of local schools and to ensure that taxpayers - who currently contribute roughly two thirds of funds to the parish - have more control over the money they contribute to fund services.

Opponents insist that the proposal is also motivated by race and class. They point out that the new city of St George would be 70% white - and that the mainly poor and black community in the rest of Baton Rouge would face crippling cuts to education if it lost the taxpayers who provide most of its revenue.

The St George campaign says it needs less than 2,000 signatures to hit its goal of 20,000 signatures which would enable it to put the independence vote on the ballot. But some major business interests in the community including a casino have said they would rather stay part of the parish.

The BBC's Anna Bressanin spoke to passionate supporters on both sides of the debate.

  • 20 Oct 2014
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