Big-time Richmond musician Reggie Pace released an album in November with his band No BS Brass that offered a political stand in response to the death of Freddie Gray and others. The album, "Brass Knuckles," was inspired partly by what he calls the growing awareness of police harassment of minorities.
This week, Pace says he came face to face with the issue during a fearful run-in with Richmond police -- an account his Facebook friends noticed after this post yesterday:
Pace, a nationally known trombonist who has toured with Bon Iver, says he was walking out of his home off Park Avenue in the Fan around 9 p.m. when a police car pulled up slowly beside him.
“I look over, turn and start walking straight, they hit me with lights,” he says. “A cop got out, said 'Excuse me, let me talk to you -- I'm stopping you because you wouldn’t make eye contact.' Boom: Then another cop shows up on the other side.”
Within minutes there were four police cars surrounding Pace, who could still see his front door, he says. Police asked for his ID. Pace says it made him nervous to reach into his large jacket when surrounded by officers with their hands near their weapons.
“They told me, 'Someone called saying there was someone suspicious walking around in a dark jacket.' Which I don’t even believe, because I had just then walked out my door on my way to 7-Eleven.”
A spokeswoman for the Richmond Police Department says the department cannot respond when there has been no official complaint filed, but notes that the chief welcomes any feedback about negative experiences with officers. Those wishing to report such incidents can call the Office of Professional Responsibility at 804-646-6816.
Pace says he was rattled but that this is nothing new for most black people in Richmond. He says the lead officer, who had a European accent, soon told him he could go, but they continued to watch him while he walked off.
Pace says he went home, posted about the incident on Facebook and received a lot of support from his friends.
When asked if he considered taking the officer’s name, he says he wouldn’t dare unless he had a white friend with him with a camera.
“All you can do in these situations is keep a cool head and survive,” he says. “I mean, they didn’t rough me up or anything ... but man. This is my neighborhood.”