One man’s protest against demolition of historic high school - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

One man’s protest against demolition of historic high school

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Caster Brown claims his injury happened during his arrest (Source: Caster Brown) Caster Brown claims his injury happened during his arrest (Source: Caster Brown)
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB Source: WAFB
PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) -

One man sat alone on the steps at Cohn High school Tuesday morning in an attempt to save the historic school from being demolished. His effort, however, was unsuccessful and he's now marked with a battle scar.

"I got five stitches over my right eye," said Caster Brown, an alumnus of the historic Cohn High school. "It happened when the police officer slammed me into a wall."

WAFB News attempted to contact Port Allen Police Chief Esdrin Brown, but he has not yet returned our call.

"The police chief came out and talked to me about it," Brown noted. "He said he agreed with me, but there was nothing he could do. They ended up letting me go on my own accord. They charged me with refusing to remove and resisting arrest."

Brown attended Cohn High for 9 years. He was transferred to Port Allen High in 1969 after Cohn closed due to desegregation.

Cohn was the only school for blacks in West Baton Rouge Parish from 1949 to 1969.

"I've lived here my entire life," Brown noted. "I live one block from the school. This is extremely personal for me."

Over the years, the school has fallen into disrepair, so the school board voted to demolish the building.

"My question is, they spent the money to repair the other schools and kept them, why is this the only school they didn't spend money on?" Brown asked. "We felt it should have been repaired."

At one point the school board did give the building to another non-profit, and there was a restoration attempt. However, the plans were halted after Hurricane Katrina caused additional damage to the structure.

"All the contractors say it would have been easy to fix," said Brown, who is a member of the Cohn High Alumni Association, "It was an eye sore, but they should have gotten on the school board to fix it."

The Alumni Association did attempt to get the court involved to stop the demolition, but was unsuccessful. So that brought Brown to make his final stand.

"I took a seat on the steps in front of the bulldozer," Brown said with a tone of pride. "There were about 15 to 20 people on the other side of the fence, watching."

Although Brown was removed and the demolition continued, he feels he did the right thing.

The West Baton Rouge Museum removed some items from the school prior to the demolition for an exhibit.

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