It turns out isolating an entire nationality and encouraging employees to kick them out of your establishment is bad for business.
Scream Town, a popular 30-acre Halloween-themed park nestled just outside of Chaska, Minn., has effectively been shut down, thanks to a Facebook post that told employees the park had a “zero tolerance policy with Somalis.”
Carver County officials issued a “stop-work order”on Scream Town on Thursday, reports KARE 11 TV. The order follows the Carver County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to end its contract with the theme park.
“There’s 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,” Carver County Administrator David Hemze told the Star Tribune. “If they do, it would be in violation of that stop order and we would take enforcement action.”
Scream Town came under fire earlier this week after Matt Dunn, the park’s owner, wrote an internal Facebook post to his employees asking them to cooperate with a no-Somalis policy.
“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,” the post read, according to City Pages. An earlier section of the post urged employees to report any “guest issues” while customers were in line.
“Your diligence in this matter is crucial,” Dunn added.
After the post leaked, Dunn apologized for the message, saying he was sorry that it “seemed to generalize.” He attempted to clarify that he had been referring about a specific group of teenagers.
According to a 2017 CNN article, as of 2015, of the approximately 150,000 Somalis who live in the United States, more live in Minnesota than in any other state. Experts cite the ready availability of jobs as a major pull factor, as well as the state’s history of welcoming refugees.
A spokesperson for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations publicly accepted Dunn’s apology on Thursday night, via a video posted to Scream Town’s Facebook page, the Star Tribune reports.
“We found him to be very genuine about his apology to the community,” Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in the video. “We recognize there are lots of people pained and frustrated with what they saw.”
Dunn, who appears alongside Hussein in the video, said, “I want to let the Somali community know that we love you … you are welcome, as always.”
The message wasn’t enough to move Carver County officials, however.
“We hold equal treatment of all people among our highest principles. Mr. Dunn’s comments discriminated against one group based on their national origin,” Hemze wrote in a news release sent to Kare 11. “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 said he was shocked the county’s decision.
“We believe their act to be illegal, and we are immediately reviewing our legal options,” he wrote in a statement.
Scream Town was closed yesterday, reports the Star Tribune, but Dunn told the paper he plans to open Friday night, as previously scheduled.
Updated, Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 12:40 p.m. EDT: Scream Town will remain open for the rest of the Halloween season because of a settlement reached between Matt Dunn and Carver County officials.
As CBS 4 Minnesota reports, Dunn announced news of the settlement Friday afternoon. The Carver County Sheriff’s Office contract with Scream Town is still voided, with the county maintaining that Dunn violated the terms of the contract when he asked his employees to practice “zero tolerance with Somalis” at his theme park.
But, with Dunn hiring his own private, onsite security for the park, the attraction can remain open, Carver County officials say.
The park opened Friday night, as previously scheduled.