109-Year-Old Family Business Burned To Ashes By Protesters

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A family business started in 1911 is now left behind as a mountain of rubble and ashes. 

When riots started in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, business owners and families were hearing sirens going constantly with people racing up and down the street. Tom Gram and Paul Willette were worried about their store, Rode’s Camera Shop, which was in the area as some of the riots. 

“I walked up to the corner and looked down here, and could see there was a fire truck in the middle of the street pumping water into the business. But I couldn’t tell if it was ours, this one, that one. John Rode III called me. He was down here, and he called me and he said, ‘The building is completely engulfed in flames.’ And being that there was a curfew and I wasn’t about to come down here, I waited until the next morning,” Tom Gram said.

Gram goes on to explain what he saw the next morning. Three generations of business and a 41-year partnership left in a pile of ashes. The shop had been burned to the ground. All of the equipment was stored in that building at the time. Once a community cornerstone, now gone from one night of lawlessness.

Gram, luckily, had business insurance to cover the financial losses but others weren’t so lucky. 

Sam, the Indian-American immigrant who owns Car Source, had his dealership lot hit twice by rioters who torched his entire lot of cars. Insurance isn’t helping the family-owned business cover the losses. It started with a single truck set on fire that spread quickly. Videos on Twitter showed looters breaking into the dealership office, stomping on hoods, and smashing windows. Rioters continued, despite the emergency curfew, to run amuck throughout Kenosha, looting and burning businesses. 

“What did we do to deserve this? This is not the America I came in to. I’m a minority too. I’m a brown person. I have nothing to do with this,” said Sam.

The 17 people Sam employed all lost their jobs for nothing and Sam lost every dime he has in the last few days. 

Kenosha is getting battered and burned up. The city needs a mayor who will rise up and demand law and order. “We need to heal, and we need to work together as a community. No more divisions,” Gram said. 

It’s a shame that such violence had broken out in Kenosha, a place once perceived as safe. Other buildings confirmed to have been damaged include the public library, a dinosaur museum, a charter school, a law firm, a USPS building, and a courthouse. 

But hey, it’s all related to police reform right?