A business owner in Kenosha has accused Trump of exploiting him for political gain.
Kenosha, in Wisconsin, has had ongoing protests and riots after the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers. Frustrations within the city have been connected to the wider movement around police brutality and racial injustice since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis at the end of May.
Rode’s Camera Shop has been run by Tom Gram for the last eight years. He’s worked there for over four decades. Last week, it burned down during the unrest. Trump came to visit the town – despite requests from the mayor and governor not to do so – and made several media appearances.
Gram declined a request by Trump’s team to take part in a photo op, saying to local news station TMJ4 that, “Everything he does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it.”
But then Trump did show up – where the store had burned down – with the former owner of the shop, John Rode III. Rode owns the property that the shop is located at, but he doesn’t own or run the shop itself anymore.
Trump introduced John Rode III as the “owner of Rode’s Camera Shop” and made it seem as though Rode was still in charge. Their exchange can be seen on camera here, and Rode III is holding a Rode’s print to the right of the president.
Rode also made several pro-Trump remarks, saying,
“I just appreciate President Trump coming today, everybody here does. We’re so thankful we got the federal troops here. Once they got here things did calm down quite a bit.”
“A day earlier would have saved his store,” Trump responded in front of cameras.
People pointed out that this was a new low, even for Trump and his administration.
Gram said that he was disappointed in both Rode and Trump, and that Trump needs to “bring this country together rather than divide it.”
Gram also added, “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.”