Looters turn Ferguson protests into nightly shopping sprees

FERGUSON, Mo. (CNN) -- Days of violent protests in Missouri are taking their toll on businesses in the Ferguson area.

Some angry demonstrators have resorted to vandalism and looting, and the violence is moving into neighboring towns.

Since Mike Brown was killed nine days ago, there have been far too many scenes like this one.

These images were shot Monday night on surveillance cameras at Mumtaz Lalani's store.

Lalani watched the video feed from home as a crowd, with no apparent remorse, looted his business.

Mumtaz Lalani, Dellwood, Mo., business owner: "They couldn't break in and then they started shooting."

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Muzzle flashes can be seen as shots are fired into the storefront, then looters ransack the liquor and cigarette cabinets.

Later, two women even attempt to set the business on fire.

"10 o'clock, they closed the store. 10:15, they did this," Lalani said.

Lalani says he cannot recover. He and his 33-year-old son are confused and angry and sad.

Jan Lalani: "It doesn't even make any sense anymore. It's not even about that."

Mumtaz Lalani: " The thing is, they say they want justice for Mike Brown. Is this justice? I don't understand. What justice is this?"

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For store owners in Ferguson, Missouri and the surrounding area, midnight curfews and a strong police presence have done little to protect them.

So, much of the focus of this scene is on what happened to Michael Brown and on the militaristic reaction of police against protesters.

But these storeowners, they have stories to tell as well.

Ibrahim, a shop owner in Ferguson says "there's no way to tell" how much he's lost, except that it's in the hundreds of thousands.

Ibrahim and his family left Kuwait as refugees during the first Gulf War, and they have been happy to make Ferguson their home.

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Ibrahim, who asked that we not use his last name, knew Mike Brown. He liked Mike Brown.

Ibrahim: "It's not how you're supposed to help a grieving family, you know?"

But looters and criminals have hijacked the protests at times.

And now, the livelihoods of the store owners who provide services to Ferguson are threatened.

Ibrahim: "I don't want mix up the protesters and the looters because all week long, the protesters have been out here peacefully."

Ibrahim warns that the media should not mischaracterize Ferguson either.

Ibrahim: "We got people coming out, just wanting to buy something, just to help out, and I am so thankful for these people. These are my heroes."

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So many of the stores along the main drag along west Florisant Avenue in Ferguson are boarded up like they're waiting for a hurricane, or one just passed. Of course, the disaster that took place here isn't natural. It's man-made. Across the street is Ferguson Market and Liquor. It was looted over the weekend. Coincidentally or not, it's the same place where Michael Brown was said to have stolen some cigars just moments before he was killed."

Despite waves of people rushing stores, carrying boxes of goods to waiting cars, or wig store mannequins left bald by thieves, it is important to note, locals say, that these are only the actions of a few.

Ibrahim: "I want the attention to go on the people outside sweeping the streets every morning.

Neighbors coming out of their homes in the backyard, just cleaning up their community. Everybody coming from all over Missouri just to help out."

But, for now, the threat of violence erupting again by those few has left many businesses boarded up and waiting for peace.


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