As black families moved into Ferguson, he whites fled
. In 1980, the town was 85 percent white and 14 percent black; by 2010, it was 29 percent white and 69 percent black. But blacks did not gain political power as their numbers grew.
The mayor and the police chief are white
, as are five of the six City Council members. The school board consists of six white members and one Hispanic. As Mr. Gordon explains, many black residents, lacking the wealth to buy property, move from apartment to apartment and have not put down political roots.
The disparity is most evident in the Ferguson Police Department, of which only three of 53 officers are black. The largely white force stops black residents far out of proportion to their population, according to statistics kept by the state attorney general
Blacks account for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city, and 93 percent of the arrests after those stops. Similar problems exist around St. Louis County, where earlier this year the state chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. filed a federal civil rights complaint
alleging widespread racial profiling by police departments.