How Long It Takes for the Air Force to Fire a White Nationalist

Cory Reeves as seen in a 2015 news report during the period when he was stationed in Hawaii.
Cory Reeves as seen in a 2015 news report during the period when he was stationed in Hawaii.

In December 2018, Westword published a now-offline video in which Air Force member Cory Allen Reeves was among those seen near a Denver-area overpass displaying graffiti promoting the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. Over the year-plus since, Reeves has been publicly outed for his racist activities in a slew of additional media outlets, resulting in negative PR that appears to have prompted Air Force officials to move from simply lowering his rank to trying to bounce him from the service permanently.

Now an Air Force panel has formally backed Reeves's firing; the hearing reportedly took place this past weekend. But he's yet to be sacked, and it's unclear if and when that may actually happen.

According to Air Force Chief of Media Operations Ann Stefanek, corresponding via email, "Airman Reeves was demoted to the rank of Technical Sergeant (E-6) on 11 September 2019 and recently an administrative discharge board recommended discharge. Based on his length of service (over 16 years), he is entitled to a review. That process is ongoing."

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In a December 16, 2019, item, we suggested that members of the military seen displaying "OK" hand signals associated with the white-power movement during an ESPN live shot at an Army-Navy football game would likely escape serious punishment (a prediction that turned out to be totally accurate) in light of the wrist slap given to Reeves despite compellling evidence about his Identity Evropa membership — much of it made public the previous spring by the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, as cited in this April 8 tweet:

Reeves was also highlighted in this audio clip, during which "Cory" is praised for his role in organizing Identity Evropa events in Colorado circa November 2018:

Material like this subsequently seized the attention of the Huffington Post, among other national news agencies. Months later, the Denver Post wrote about the Reeves investigation and his demotion, and on November 20, the Washington Post gave the topic an even wider airing. The latter piece 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."

This last statement was reinforced on December 17, the day after our Army-Navy game salvo, when the Air Force's Stefanek revealed that discharge proceedings against Reeves were pending — though she wouldn't divulge the actual hearing date in order to protect his privacy.

This same logic is being applied to the Reeves review following the discharge recommendation. Stefanek doesn't want this procedure to be interpreted as an indication that the military branch is less than serious about dealing with white supremacists in its ranks. But she also emphasizes that individuals such as Reeves won't simply be hurried toward the exit.

In her words, "The Air Force is committed to maintaining a culture where all Airmen feel welcome and can thrive, will hold Airmen accountable when misconduct is alleged, and will ensure Airmen alleged to have committed misconduct receive their due process rights afforded by law and regulations."

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