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Minnesota Halloween attraction forced to close after owner makes anti-Somali remarks

CHASKA, Minn. -- Scream Town, a seasonal Halloween attraction in the Twin Cities suburb of Chaska, has been forced to close after its owner sent an anti-Somali message to employees.

Scream Town’s conditional use permit requires it to contract with the Carver County sheriff’s office for traffic control services, but the sheriff’s office on Thursday, Oct. 11, severed its agreement with Scream Town owner Matt Dunn over his comments, according to a news release issued by Carver County Administrator David Hemze. Without traffic control measures in place, the county has voided Scream Town’s permit and ordered Dunn to cease operations, the news release said.

“We hold equal treatment of all people among our highest principles,” Hemze said in the news release. “Mr. Dunn’s comments discriminated against one group based on their national origin. There is no ambiguity to Mr. Dunn’s comments. Mr. Dunn encouraged his employees to racially profile a targeted group and his comments are completely unacceptable. They do not comply with County policy, and they breached our contract with him.”

Dunn apologized earlier this week after his message to Scream Town employees, which outlined a new “zero tolerance policy with Somalis” at the attraction, circulated online.

In terminating its contract with Scream Town, the sheriff’s office cited a provision that prohibits racial discrimination, which Dunn violated with his message, according to Hemze.

Dunn said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon that he was shocked by the county’s decision.

“We believe their act to be illegal, we are immediately reviewing our legal options,” Dunn said in his statement.

Dunn’s comments drew a swift backlash online earlier this week, as people people voiced their disgust on the Scream Town Facebook page. His subsequent apology appeared to do little to tamp down the outrage.