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Scream Town, Carver County strike deal to keep Halloween attraction open

October 12, 2018

A popular west metro Halloween haunt will reopen this weekend after reaching an agreement Friday with Carver County officials who shut it down over a disparaging social media post the owner made about Somali-American customers.

Under the agreement, Scream Town operators will hire private onsite security guards since the county has voided its contract for security, traffic and crowd control.

County Administrator David Hemze said the owners disparaging comments about Somali-American customers breached a contract that prohibits discriminatory conduct.

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, Hemze said.

The Sheriffs Office will continue to provide the attraction with routine 911 response and patrol.

Scream Town owner Matt Dunn said Friday that he was glad we were able to resolve this.

County officials took action against Scream Town when Dunn wrote in a closed Facebook group for Scream Town actors: 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.

Dunn has since apologized on Scream Towns public Facebook page, saying that safety is a top priority and that his first post seemed to generalize.

The full apology reads: Scream Town welcomes ALL people to our event. We love our guests and we love our fans. Safety and security for our actors and guests is our top priority. We apologize for any posts that seemed to generalize. That was not our intent. All are welcome and we thank you for your business.

Scream Town, located on about 30 rented acres near Chaska, has been considered one of the countrys best haunted attractions. According to its website, it has hayride like experiences, but with haunted walking trails.

Dunn said his original post came after a group of eight to 10 teenagers had caused trouble at Scream Town. He said it was poorly worded.

It wasnt a message to all Somali folks, he said. This was a terrible misunderstanding.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) asked the state Department of Human Rights to investigate Dunns comments. But in a video posted to the Scream Town Facebook page Thursday evening, CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein publicly accepted Dunns apology and asked the community to move forward.

We found him to be very genuine about his apology to the community, Hussein said in the video. We recognize there are lots of people pained and frustrated with what they saw.

Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.

Karen Zamora 612-673-4647 Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora

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