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A bar owner has drawn a liquor-licence suspension after refusing a request from Quebec liquor regulators to stop playing the rap and hip-hop music they say attracts criminal gang members.

Mark Anthony Bentley, co-owner of Vision dance bar, said the suggestion and 30-day penalty discriminate against his bar, which caters to a clientele of black people in a working-class Montreal neighbourhood.

The judgment from the Régie des alcools cited the bar for failing to ensure peace and quiet in 2005 and 2006 in LaSalle.

The bar was blamed for a series of incidents, including cheap drink promotions, pot smoking by patrons, serving underage drinkers and minor disturbances that took place outside the bar. But the judgment also took aim at Mr. Bentley's unwillingness to "rethink the style of music played at Vision."

Mr. Bentley says the bar features a range of traditionally black music, including R&B and reggae.

"Obviously we feel our rights are being abused," said Mr. Bentley, 42, a father of three who also works as a real estate agent.

"We don't like to play the race card, but we're black owners and we're in an area where a certain percentage of our clientele are black. It seems we're being all treated as the same [as gang members]"

The adjudicators also suggested a new dress code to get rid of ball caps, sports jerseys, bandanas and gang colours, a gesture Mr. Bentley rejected as futile.

In a hearing earlier this year, several police officers testified that the bar was a known gang hangout. The officers reported nearly two dozen incidents over a 15-month span.

The judgment written by adjudicators André Chrétien and Aïda Karibian says it's up to Mr. Bentley and his co-owners to keep the neighbourhood peace and to make the bar less attractive to gang members.

While crediting Mr. Bentley for always co-operating with police, they wrote "it takes more than good co-operation to deal with street gang problems.

"Sometimes small gestures on ways of operating can make the difference."

Mr. Bentley said he could play country music, but it probably wouldn't please his law-abiding clients.

He said many of the dozens of visits from police were on false reports from neighbours reacting to street activity. Mr. Bentley said he plans to resume playing hip-hop music when the bar reopens next month.