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Montreal city councillor receives apology after being refused entry to police press conference

Abdelhaq Sari, at the far right, was denied entry to a press conference held by Montreal police.
Abdelhaq Sari, at the far right, was denied entry to a press conference held by Montreal police. Ensemble Montréal/Twitter

The vice-chair of Montreal’s public security commission says he received an apology from the city’s police chief after he was barred from a meeting earlier this week.

Abdelhaq Sari was denied access to a press conference on Monday by police officers. The force was reacting to a blistering report that showed visible minorities are more likely to be stopped by police than their white counterparts in Montreal.

READ MORE: Indigenous, black people more likely to be stopped by Montreal police — report

Sari, who is Arab, said at the time that police officers refused to allow him into the room but he was unsure why. The city councillor with the opposition party Ensemble Montréal demanded an apology from police.

On Friday, Sari issued a statement on his Facebook page, saying he had had a phone call with police Chief Sylvain Caron in wake of the incident.

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“The chief of the SPVM is sorry for what happened and says he totally disapproves of the gesture to prohibit an elected official from accessing a press conference,” he wrote.

READ MORE: After damning report, activists say much work is needed to change Montreal police culture

Sari went on to write that he has decided to turn the page on what he describes as an “unfortunate incident” and that he is focused on analyzing the findings found in the report on the police force.

“My team and I want more than anything to come up with concrete and viable recommendations while working with all stakeholders,” he added.

The independent report, which was authored by three university professors, looked at three years of data from 2014 to 2017.

Its findings showed there is “significant, widespread and persistent disproportions” of racialized people stopped by Montreal police officers. The report also points to the “presence of systemic biases” linked to race during police interventions but stops short of concluding it was racial profiling.

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