County shuts down Scream Town after racist post

Updated Oct. 15: Carver County and Scream Town have reached a deal to keep the attraction open.

Racism can put you out of business in a hurry, just ask the owner of Scream Town, which issued a “zero tolerance policy for Somalis” via Facebook after some sort of incident last weekend at the Halloween-themed venue in Chaska.

That’s the sort of racial profiling that people seem to notice and after significant pushback online, the owner backpedaled on the venue’s Facebook page.

Too late.

Today, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office canceled its contract to provide police at the venue.

Here’s the news release:

CHASKA, MINN.— Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson, County Attorney Mark Metz, and County Administrator David Hemze today announced the termination of the Sheriff’s Office contract with Scream Town and its owner, Matt Dunn.

Scream Town had contracted with the County Sheriff’s Office for grounds patrol, general security, traffic control, crowd control, and law enforcement. With no contract in place, the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) issued to SSP Holdings, LP is in substantial violation. Under the CUP, SSP Holdings’ Carver County property hosts Scream Town for six weeks annually.

The County today issued an immediate stop work order for the Scream Town operation on the SSPHoldings’ property.

Olson, Metz and Hemze investigated Dunn’s recent social media posts directed to Scream Town staff members. Dunn posted on a private Facebook social media account accessible by Scream Town staff.

[See above]

Among other things, the contract between Scream Town/Dunn and the Carver County Sheriff’s Office states:

“….the Parties agree to the following: no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, religion, age, sex, disability, marital status, public assistance status, criminal record, creed or national origin be excluded from full employment rights in, participation in, be denied the benefits of or
be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any and all applicable Federal and State laws against discrimination.”

Since Dunn’s comments violated the contract, as well as County, State, and Federal laws, the County voided the contract. Subsequently, the County reviewed Scream Town’s CUP. The CUP allows Scream Town to operate its business on the SSPHoldings’ property. It requires the CUP holder to conform to County ordinances and State and Federal regulations. Having discriminatory policies and practices does not conform to County ordinances and State and Federal regulations. The CUP also requires Carver County Sheriff’s deputies to manage U.S. Highway 212 traffic. With no traffic management in place, the
County issued the stop work order under CUP enforcement procedures. “The County is responsible for the public’s safety, and it is our duty to act decisively and swiftly when public safety is at risk,” Sheriff
Olson said.

“We hold equal treatment of all people among our highest principles,” County Administrator Hemze said. “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.”

“Carver County unequivocally does not allow anyone in its organization to discriminate based on national origin or race and we most certainly will not contract with any business that discriminates or has discriminatory policies,”County Board chair Gayle Degler said.

The county’s actions came after Dunn met with an official of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to apologize.

Thank you so much Jaylani Hussein for meeting with me today and accepting my apology. I appreciate our shared commitment to work as one, and bring the community together now and in the future. I’m sharing this video of our discussion today at 10:00 AM for everyone to see.

Posted by SCREAMTOWN on Thursday, October 11, 2018

In a later statement, Dunn suggested he might sue Carver County.