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Scream Town shut down over anti-Somali racism [UPDATE: Owner fighting back]

Matt Dunn's memo to his employees at Scream Town got the spooky attraction shuttered.

Matt Dunn's memo to his employees at Scream Town got the spooky attraction shuttered. Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Just days after sending an outrageously blunt memo to his employees describing a “zero tolerance” policy “with Somalis,” Scream Town owner Matt Dunn is, well, done.

The Carver County Sheriff’s office announced today that it would no longer do business with Dunn for “grounds patrol, general security, traffic control” and other safety measures at his Chaska, Minn. attraction. It states explicitly in their contract that nobody can be excluded from participating in all that scary fun on the basis of, among other things, their “national origin.”

Dunn’s memo violated the contract -- along with county, state, and federal laws, according to a statement from Carver County -- so the sheriff’s department called it quits.

And since Scream Town’s conditional use permit as a haunted attraction depends on having that contract with law enforcement in place, the county was obliged to reevaluate its permit. County administrators quickly determined Scream Town was in violation not only for lacking sheriff’s deputies to manage traffic, but also for flagrantly discriminating against its Somali customers. 

On Thursday, Carver County yanked the permit and issued an immediate stop work order. That’s it for Scream Town.

“There is no ambiguity to Mr. Dunn’s comments,” County Administrator David Hemze said in a statement. “Mr. Dunn encouraged his employees to racially profile a targeted group and his comments are completely unacceptable.”

Dunn declined to be interviewed for this story, saying it wasn’t a good time, and he had already said what there was to say. After word of the memo started getting around, Dunn posted an apology on Scream Town’s Facebook page, saying he was referring to a specific eight or 10 teens who had been causing trouble at the park.

“We apologize for any posts that were generalizing,” it read.

Whether or not Dunn was sorry then, he’s certainly sorry now.

UPDATE: Strike that; he's certainly not sorry, according to statements Dunn made to the Star Tribune later Thursday: "We are shocked at the fact that the county has taken this action. We believe their act to be illegal, and we are immediately reviewing our legal options.” Dunn also said in spite of the county's announcement, he plans to open Scream Town for regular operations Friday evening. This zombie of a story continues to lurch along.