On Tuesday morning, Scream Town, the 30-acre Halloween attraction near Chaska, sent an email informing employees of a “zero tolerance” policy “with Somalis.”
Here’s the full text of that portion of the message (emphasis ours):
"Important! The following sign has been added to the ticket booth. In addition, other signs are being added to encourage guests to call in and report any guest issues while waiting in line. Note that we are having a zero tolerance policy with Somalis. (Other guests, you make your best judgement call) But absolutely zero tolerance with Somalis. Your diligence in this matter is crucial. Call me directly if you feel that is the fastest way of communication. 612-518-0364 If they violate ANY of the following, they need to be followed, reported, and stayed with until Scream Town staff/ security arrives.”
It went on to quote the text of the aforementioned sign, which warned guests against pushing, cutting in line, foul language, and other misdeeds. It failed to mention how employees were supposed to tell whether or not customers were Somali.
It did say, “Scream Town reserves the right to refuse service to anyone.”
Scream Town’s Facebook page uses Pennywise the clown for its profile picture, so it looked like the demon shapeshifter was being uncharacteristically contrite when an official apology was posted:
“Scream Town welcomes ALL people to our event,” it read. It went on to say that the park had “an incident” involving a “select group” of eight or 10 “individuals” last Saturday night (teenagers, owner Matt Dunn told the Star Tribune), messing with the staff and ruining the other guests’ good, scary time. These same specific teens, the post said, had also been there earlier this year.
And yet, apparently, Dunn could find no other way to describe them other than as “Somali.”
“We love our Somali customers,” the Pennywise-adjacent apology post said. “They have been longtime fans of our show. All are welcome and we thank you for your business.” Scream Town didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment.
The comments on the apology post said that if the policy was “generalizing,” they’d hate to see what specific looked like.
“‘SEEMED’ to generalize?” one wrote. “IT WAS RACIST AF.”
The Star Tribune reports that the Council on American-Islamic Relations, calling the letter a "business policy targeting an ethnic and religious minority," is asking the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to investigate -- i.e. read the large text of the aforementioned email -- and determine if Scream Town’s business policy might be considered discriminatory.