Scream Town OK'd to continue after memo targeting Somalis

Scream Town, the Chaska-based Halloween attraction, will be open this weekend and through Nov. 3., Carver County said Friday. The decision comes a day after the county moved to shut down Scream Town after the businesses talked of discriminating against people of Somali descent.

County officials on Thursday voided Scream Town's security contract with the Carver County Sheriff's Office after a Facebook message from the business to its employees surfaced saying Scream Town would have a "zero tolerance policy" toward people of Somali descent.

Officials said in a Thursday statement that Matt Dunn, Scream Town's owner-operator "encouraged his employees to racially profile a targeted group and his comments are completely unacceptable."

On Friday, though, the county said the business could continue, although the sheriff's office contract remained void. The deal requires Scream Town to hire its own private onsite security. The sheriff's office will still provide routine 911 response and patrol.

"Carver County does not tolerate discrimination from its employees or any businesses we work with, but we also understand that citizens want their government to be reasonable in their enforcement actions and this agreement allows for that, Carver County Administrator David Hemze said in a statement.

In a Facebook post Friday afternoon, Dunn apologized again for the language targeting Somalis, saying, "I made a mistake ... and caused a lot of pain to a lot of people and it was not my intent to do so." The memo, he added, was a response to a group of eight to 10 people who'd been at Scream Town.

He thanked Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, for accepting his apology.

Scream Town, Dunn added, was working to "make sure this doesn't happen again, to make sure the Somali community knows they are welcome out here and to make sure that everyone knows they're welcome out here."

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.