Racial tensions have run high for decades in Ferguson, Missouri, a former railroad town that was once a mostly white St. Louis suburb until demographic changes sent many families packing for more distant communities.

Today the town is predominantly black. But the law here is still enforced by an overwhelmingly white police force. That fact helps engender widespread distrust of officers — never more so than last weekend, when a white officer shot and killed an unarmed young black man who was about to start college.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson says 50 of the city's 53 officers are white. He said he has made recruiting and promoting black officers a priority, but it's been an uphill battle.

The mayor and four of the city's five aldermen are also white.