The FBI is investigating whether hate crimes were committed during two St. Louis-area attacks last month where suspects allegedly referenced Ferguson.

The St. Louis suburb has been at the center of racial strife and protests since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by a white Ferguson police officer in August.

The FBI confirmed Monday it was looking into a possible hate crime in the case of a white man accused of punching 54-year-old former Cardinals outfielder Curt Ford, who is black, at a convenience store in Fenton. The suspect allegedly told Ford, "Go back to Ferguson."

In the other attack, a black man is accused of asking a 45-year-old white man what he thought about the "Mike Brown situation" before attacking him on a train.