Scream Town, Chaska, Minnesota’s most popular haunted attraction, has effectively been shuttered amid outrage over a racist Facebook post authored by the theme park’s owner telling employees there was “zero tolerance for Somalis.”
Carver County Administrator David Hemze announced Thursday that he ended the county’s contract with the attraction’s landowner, SSP Holdings of Eden Prairie, as a result of owner Matt Dunn’s disparaging remarks.
“There is a stop-work order posted on their driveway, which literally means they cannot continue with the event, and I’m hoping that they don’t,” Hemze told the Star Tribune. “If they do, it would be in violation of that stop order and we would take enforcement action.”
In a separate statement, Hemze condemned Dunn’s comments as discriminatory and accused the park owner of “encouraging employees to racially profile a target group.”
Dunn responded to the stop order on Thursday, writing in a statement, “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.”
In order for the park to legally operate in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb, Dunn would have to move the haunt to an entirely different site, away from Chaska. Hemze, along with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office determined Dunn’s comment violated both state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The Scream Town owner seemed undeterred by the stop order, however, and said he still has plans to open the attraction as scheduled Friday night, the Star Tribune reported.
Outrage ensued after Dunn sent an internal Facebook message to Scream Town actors that read, in part, “Note that we are having a zero-tolerance policy with Somalis. (Other guests, you can make your best judgment call.) But absolutely zero tolerance with Somalis.”
“Your diligence in this matter is crucial,” it continued.
Dunn has since issued an apology on Scream Town’s official Facebook page, saying ALL are welcomed at the Halloween attraction and that his first post “seemed to generalize.”
“We love our guests and we love our fans. Safety and security for our actors and guests is our top priority,” he wrote. “We apologize for any posts that seemed to generalize. That was not our intent. All are welcome and we thank you for your business.”
Dunn said his “poorly written” post came after two specific incidents involving eight to 10 teenagers who had caused trouble at the theme park, KARE 11 reported.
The park owner later posted a video statement alongside Minnesota chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations’ executive director Jaylani Hussein, who called on Minnesota’s Department of Human Rights to investigate Dunn’s remarks. Hussein publicly accepted Dunn’s apology, which he called “genuine,” and asked the community to move past the previous comments.
“What I said was wrong, it was without thought and caused a lot of pain to people,” Dunn says in the video. “I want to let the Somali community know that we love you … and you are welcome, as always.”
For Hemze, Dunn’s apology came too little too late.
“The statement wasn’t tough to interpret,” he told KARE 11. “It was so clear that it was discriminatory the way it was worded. Unfortunately, an apology — it wasn’t enough.”
Watch more in the clip below.