Kenosha Business Owner Says Trump Replaced Him With Former Owner For Photo Op

Tom Gram says he didn’t want to be a part of the “circus” around Trump after his store burned to the ground, so he declined to participate

Last Updated: September 2, 2020 @ 9:43 AM

A Kenosha business owner says he declined the White House’s request to be a part of President Donald Trump’s tour of damaged businesses Tuesday — so the president replaced him with his shop’s former owner for a photo op.

Tom Gram is the owner of Rode’s Camera Shop, which burned to the ground last week amid demonstrations after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Gram told local NBC news station WTMJ that the White House invited him to be part of Trump’s tour, but he wanted no part of it.

Trump still held a photo op in front of the burned down business, where he presented John Rode III as the “owner of Rode’s Camera Shop.” Rode then praised Trump and the deployment of federal troops in front of news crews while holding a photo of the former building.

Gram is unhappy the president and Rode for misrepresenting the store’s ownership. Rode owns the property on which the shop stood, but Gram has owned the shop for eight years.

“I think everything he does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it,” Gram told WTMJ.

He went on to say he’d prefer to see Trump “bring the country together” rather than “divide” it, adding, “I think there’s a lot of good people in this community and to say that only law enforcement is correct is not the message we need to hear right now.”

A representative for the White House did not comment.

Watch the news segment above.