The police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and the riots that followed are likely a result of years of racial tensions simmering in and around St. Louis, Missouri.
Hundreds of people have protested in the streets of Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, and it appears racial tensions there have been boiling for years.
The Midwestern city is one of the most segregated in America.
This map shows the racial disparity in the city. The green colour indicates a higher population of African-Americans (Ferguson is near Castle Point):
Throughout the past decade, St. Louis has experienced “white flight” — white people progressively moving away from the city’s urban center and out into the suburbs.
As you can see in the maps above, as black residents move into certain neighborhoods, white residents tend to move farther out.
Part of the tension in Ferguson likely stems from the major racial disparity between the city’s police force and its citizens.
The Washington Post notes that while two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black, the city’s police department only has three black officers (out of 53), and most of the top city officials are white.
Protests erupted in Ferguson after a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, over last weekend.
There are conflicting accounts of what happened. Police say Brown lunged for an officer’s gun, but a friend of Brown who witnessed the incident said Brown had his hands up when he was shot.
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