- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - A closer look at the community of Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed:

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HISTORY: Incorporated in 1894 by founder William B. Ferguson as a railroad depot, the town quickly grew into a hub for freight and passenger traffic and a bedroom community for city workers. It also attracted many freed slaves looking for a home after the Civil War.

Before school desegregation, Ferguson and other parts of north St. Louis County were predominantly white. The racial makeup changed as many white suburban families moved to outlying areas such as St. Charles County, parts of which are more than 40 miles from St. Louis. Today, Ferguson is nearly 70 percent black.

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POPULATION AND POVERTY: By 2010, the census counted about 21,000 people in Ferguson, which is about 10 miles north of downtown St. Louis in the broader area known to locals as North County. Fewer than half of the approximately 9,100 homes are owner-occupied, and about a quarter of residents live below the federal poverty level.

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COMMERCE: Ferguson is home of the global headquarters of Emerson Electric Co., a Fortune 500 company that employs more than 130,000 workers worldwide. Just outside the city limits is Express Scripts, the nation’s largest company that manages pharmacy benefits. Earlier this year, the corporation announced a $56 million expansion that will add 1,500 jobs. Ferguson’s former rail depot is home to a redevelopment effort aimed at promoting small businesses in a pedestrian-friendly corridor, with a weekly farmers market and outdoor concerts in the summer.

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SCHOOLS: Several North County school districts - including the Normandy system from which Brown graduated - lost state accreditation because of declining test scores and other academic shortcomings. Some students from the failing districts were bused to better-performing schools in other districts.

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RACIAL CONCERNS: A Justice Department report issued Wednesday outlined sweeping patterns of discrimination within the Ferguson Police Department. The report said blacks in Ferguson are disproportionately subject to excessive police force, baseless traffic stops and citations for infractions as petty as walking down the middle of the street. It appeared to bolster allegations from some Ferguson protesters who complained about the predominantly white police force disproportionately targeting blacks.

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