MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An advocacy organization is calling for a human rights investigation after the owner of a Halloween attraction singled out Somalis.
The owner of Scream Town apologized for a note to staff, which said there should be a “zero tolerance policy with Somalis.” The memo that has been repeatedly shared on social media has sparked outrage.
Scream Town in Chaska has attracted people looking for a scare for more than a decade, but now its owner is at the center of controversy.
“He’s saying Somalis are going to be targeted differently than everybody else. That is the definition, textbook definition of discrimination,” CAIR Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said.
Owner Matt Dunn explains the note to staff was to update them on Scream Town’s safety and security policy. Part of it said, “Note that we are having a zero tolerance policy with Somalis. (Other guests you make your best judgement call.)”
“The post that was made was poorly written to say the least. It was a post regarding an incident that happened last Saturday regarding a specific group of individuals,” Dunn said.
He said he wrote the message overnight in response to a group that had violated Scream Town rules.
“Deeply apologize, anytime, I’m the first guy to apologize anytime. Most certainly didn’t want to offend people but obviously did. I can see how that was interpreted as an entire people,” Dunn said.
Hussein sees it differently.
“No matter how you write it, when you write it you’re responsible for those actions. Most importantly here, these are not ambiguous statements. These are clear statements that say we’re going to treat that group of people different than anybody else,” Hussein said.
A message has since been posted to Scream Town’s Facebook page apologizing.
Dunn said he had a productive conversation with a Somali community activist, and intends to have more discussions about this issue.