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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 26th, 2014
06:43 PM ET

Ferguson businesses destroyed after fires and looting

(CNN) – Ferguson store owners were promised they would be protected, assured their businesses would be safe.

"Together, we are all focused on making sure the necessary resources are at hand to protect lives, protect property, and protect free speech," Gov. Jay Nixon said ahead of the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday.

But that same night, those promises fell apart.

We first met Ibrahim Rammaha back in August as he was cleaning up Sam's Meat Market after looters hit it for the second time, taking the store's air conditioning unit and generator.

Just down the road, Jan Lalani and his father showed us surveillance footage of their store, the Dellwood Market, being looted the same August night.

Both stores closed early on Monday ahead of the grand jury decision announcement. The owners anxiously waited.

But the promised protection was nowhere to be seen.

Sam's Meat Market was looted and set ablaze, Dellwood Market was overrun again.

"We're talking 13, 14-year-old girls coming in here. We're talking guys that could be my dad, all age groups," said Lalani.

"When they definitely showed the helicopter, when it was above West Florissant, I seen the store smoking, and I was like, 'it's over,'" said Rammaha.

"Friday night we sat down at Sam's with a member of the Justice Department who assured us, a number of the businesses, that there was a plan and that they were not going to let happen what happened last time," said Jay Kanzler, an attorney for Sam's Meat Market and other stores on West Florissant Avenue.

Sam's Meat Market is being treated as a crime scene and is closed for now.

For Rammaha, nothing was salvageable. "It's done. Everything's gone,"  he said.

"It just hurts, I don't know why this was done to us. We've been with protesters since day one," said Rammaha. "I don't blame the protesters. I don't blame the community. It's just them opportunists, like we said in August. If I would have known this was going to happen, we would have protected our business, but we were told not to."

Lalani watched his security camera feed from his house. He watched as a big crowd gathered,

"They had their tools with them this time as well. They had crow bars and everything," he said.

So Lalani called 911, asking for police officers to be dispatched.

"But the response was they were just too busy," Lalani said.

Both Lalani and Rammaha immigrated to the U.S. to build a better life. Now they must rebuild, again.

Rammaha's family fled from Kuwait during the first Gulf War.

"We knew that America was the land of opportunity, so we grabbed what we had and left," he said.

Now Ferguson is all too familiar to the home he left.

"I left a war zone, and now I'm back in a war zone," Rammaha said.

 

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