East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome and LSU President F. King Alexander vowed Wednesday to work together again, if necessary, to defeat a possible second attempt to carve out a new city in the southeastern part of the parish.
Broome addressed some 30 people late Wednesday afternoon at the LSU Journalism Building as part of the 2017 John Breaux Symposium that focused on the intersection of race and public policy. The mayor-president spoke mostly about policing and her recent changes to the Baton Rouge Police Department's use-of-force policy and her recent request for $2.25 million to outfit every officer with a body camera.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced the reworking of the Baton Rouge Police Depar…
As Broome fielded questions, Alexander brought up the 2015 petition movement to create the City of St. George in the southeastern part of the parish. Thousands signed a petition to bring the city's creation to a vote, but the parish Registrar of Voters office said the number of signatures on the petition fell short.
"We worked together successfully about a year and a half ago to make sure the city wasn't split in half," Alexander said. Broome took an anti-St. George stance in the Louisiana Legislature, and former Mayor-President Kip Holden also fought to stave off the creation of the city.
Alexander referenced a PBS "Frontline" documentary that partially painted St. George as a racial issue, and he asked Broome how Baton Rouge could avoid the return of the St. George movement.
One year after the controversial campaign failed to create the city of St. George, the city’…
Broome asked for Alexander's help in continuing conversations about "the strength of having one Baton Rouge." She said she has tried to find common ground with St. George supporters and said she heard St. George leaders do not plan to immediately restart their petition drive.
"My message has been the same: I cannot and will not support any type of pull out that tears our community apart," Broome said.
State law required that St. George supporters take a two-year cooling off period before trying to revive their petition drive. They could potentially begin again this summer, and St. George supporters have indicated their desire to start up again.
A St. George spokesman did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. But the group's Facebook page continues to be active, and referenced Broome's speech in a post late Wednesday.
"We understand it's part of the Mayor's agenda to attempt to block a potential vote, but it's baffling to have the president of LSU inject himself into a local matter," the post reads. "A local matter supported by many LSU alumni, supporters and fans."
It goes on to pronounce that the St. George movement "will not be dictated to by the status quo and the elitist class."
The page has also recently questioned Broome's choice of a chief administrative officer and bashed Broome's transition report on race relations.
After more than four months in office and a long search process, Mayor-President Sharon West…
The page posted a "coming soon" picture in late December of 2016, and when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June of 2016, St. George supporters said they understood.
"Britain chooses sovereignty," reads a post on the St. George Facebook page from June 2016. "We completely understand. 50 weeks and counting."
A new, already divisive bill would require that if the incorporation of St. George should co…
One of the main themes from Broome's speech was the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by a BRPD officer in July 2016 during an altercation outside of a convenience store. Part of Sterling's death was captured on cellphone videos and the footage spurred protests in Baton Rouge during July before a gunman later that month shot and killed three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers: BRPD Officer Matthew Gerald, BRPD Corporal Montrell Jackson and Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola.
The gunman also injured three other law enforcement officers; injured Sheriff's Deputy Nick Tullier continues to go through rehabilitation in Texas.
All Baton Rouge police officers could be outfitted with body cameras in a matter of weeks if…
"I wholeheartedly believe there is a solid connection between the policies we make, adhere to, and race," Broome said. "Unfortunately, many of these policies are reactions to tragedy."
Asked by an audience member to weigh in on police militarization — one criticism that arose during the protests after Sterling's death — Broome said it should be "an extreme last resort."
Sterling's shooting is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Broome said she still does not know when they will make public the results of their inquiry into whether the shooting was justified, but she said she expects peaceful protests regardless of the decision.