Editor's note: The day after the publication of this post, the Air Force revealed that Airman Cory Reeves may be discharged from the service over his activities. Get the details in "Accused Racist Cory Reeves Faces Possible Expulsion From Air Force." Continue for our previous coverage.
The Army and Navy are reportedly investigating members of the military seen giving "OK" hand signals associated with the white-power movement during an ESPN live shot prompted by this weekend's football game between the two services — one attended by President Donald Trump. But if the response to the recent doxing of Colorado Springs-based Air Force member and active supremacist Cory Allen Reeves is any indication, the soldiers in question needn't worry about harsh retribution.
Reeves was demoted after an Air Force inquiry prompted by reports of his association with vile outfits such as Identity Evropa but was allowed to continue serving in the military. This wrist slap hardly qualifies as a crackdown on organizations that have long sought to publicize links between themselves and the military, even if, in the case of Reeves, the coverage might appear to be negative.
Late last year, Westword reported about a series of November 2018 events in Colorado coordinated by Identity Evropa, a national fascist collective with mainstream aspirations. In it, we shared an IE account of a Veterans Day event that included "a special ceremony for the organization’s military veterans. These identitarian men who honorably served our great nation were individually recognized and given an opportunity to share some of their experiences with the group."
Shortly thereafter, as part of a December 13, 2018, item headlined "Inside the Secret Network Fighting Neo-Nazi Propaganda in Metro Denver," we published what an anti-fascist source identified as "a recruiting video associated with putting up an underpass-size tag. It shows how they made it and how they were supposedly cleaning up the city. The police were very interested in that one, because it was such a big thing — a very large installation." The video is now offline, but among those seen in it is Reeves.
The next spring, the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists published material pointing to Reeves's racist behavior, as seen in the following tweet, shared by Identify Evropa, a group dedicated to unmasking fascists:
Brand new article! @COSAntifa and Eugene Antifa identify @usairforce Master Sergeant Cory Allen Reeves as a member of Identity Evropa. https://t.co/7f6kSVYbC9 @csindependent, @denverwestword, @deptofdefense #IdentifyEvropa pic.twitter.com/pecY9qeXGJ— IdentifyEvropa (@Identify_Evropa) April 8, 2019
More evidence against Reeves can be found in this audio clip, during which "Cory" is praised for his role in organizing the aforementioned November 2018 events.
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Months later, the Denver Post wrote about the Reeves investigation and his demotion, and on November 20, the Washington Post gave the material an even wider airing. The latter includes an excerpt from the Air Force manual stating that "personnel are prohibited from actively advocating supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes. Members who actively participate in such groups or activities are subject to adverse action."
The resulting demotion for Reeves was explained by Air Force spokesperson Lynn Kirby like so: "When Airmen fall short of this expectation, they are held accountable. Each case is evaluated based on the facts presented, and commanders have a variety of administrative and/or disciplinary actions they can administer based on the findings of the case."
We've reached out to Kirby, and if and when she gets back to us, we'll share her views in this space. But the failure to oust Reeves is very much in character with how many of these controversies have been handled of late by agencies of all types. Circa December 2018, the Denver Police Department declined to discipline an officer with a symbol linked to the anti-government militia movement tattooed on one hand; the cop, who denied any racist intent, was only required to cover the tat while on duty. And in June, Vice revealed that the National Guard had decided against expelling a soldier with white nationalist ties because he "did not engage in prohibited activity during his period of service."
Such reactions seem unlikely to serve as a deterrent for future members of the military who want to engage with racist groups — or advertise their proclivities on national television.