Tom Gram got a big surprise when he watched President Trump's visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday.
Gram's century-old camera store burned down last week amid protests and unrest in Kenosha, and when Trump planned a visit, the White House asked Gram for a meeting. Gram refused, but that didn't stop the shop from becoming a stop on Trump's tour, Milwaukee NBC News affiliate TMJ4 reports.
When the White House called Gram on Monday and asked him to be part of a tour of destroyed businesses in Kenosha, he said no. "I think everything he does turns into a circus and I just didn't want to be involved in it," Gram said of Trump. But Rode's Camera Shop, which Gram bought from the Rode family eight years ago, still showed up on TV with the president. Instead of meeting with Gram, Trump met with former owner John Rode III and even introduced him as the "owner of Rode's Camera Shop." Rode reportedly still owns the building, but not the business.
:: Tonight on @tmj4 News at 10...
The owner of a damaged business refused to appear with @POTUS.
— Steve Chamraz (@TMJ4Steve) September 2, 2020
Kenosha has seen constant protests after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, eight times in the back while he was getting into his car. He is still hospitalized and paralyzed from the waist down. The protests have turned violent and destructive at night as armed vigilantes have come to downtown Kenosha purporting to defend the city. A 17-year-old seemingly affiliated with these militia groups was charged with allegedly shooting and killing two protesters and injuring a third.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian (D) both asked Trump not to come on Tuesday, but he showed up anyway.
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