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Long before the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown brought national attention to racial tensions in Ferguson , Missouri, zealous ticketing by a string of similar towns across the north side of St. Louis County had fed friction between the area’s largely white police departments and a growing black population. An analysis by NBC News indicates that in recent years, Ferguson and other nearby jurisdictions have issued citations for low-level traffic and other violations at a per capita rate as much as a dozen times higher than cities in other parts of suburban St. Louis.

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