Last Saturday, a shooter entered Tops Grocery Store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, New York. The Buffalo police department received a call about the attack at 2:30 PM that afternoon and arrived on the scene within two minutes.
In that short amount of time, the suspect shot thirteen people, killing 10—11 of the victims were Black, targeted in an act of White nationalist domestic terrorism.
One of the 10 killed was security guard Aaron Salter, who was a retired Buffalo police officer.
Since the shooting, the Buffalo community has been in mourning. People have gathered outside of Tops Grocery Store all week and set up vigils for those lost.
One WGRZ reporter pointed out while on sight with the grieving community everyone there was expressing their feelings in different ways. Some were in prayer circles, some were crying and feelings were a mix of sadness and anger.
But none in attendance were making light of the situation.
That didn't discourage Corrections Officer Greg Foster from mocking the shooting, or the loss of Black lives, including Salter.
Foster proceeded to create a meme that featured the front of the Tops building, with an overlay caption that played on the common grocery-store-related joke "Clean up on Aisle...."
Foster's meme caption mocked the number of people who were shot.
You can see the meme here, which Foster captioned, complete with a laugh-crying emoji:
"Too soon? This should weed out some FB (Facebook) friends."
People were angered and disturbed by the officer's actions.
This included renowned journalist Rahiem Shabazz, who responded in a TikTok video.
"Now they (Buffalo correction officers) are making jokes."
"You make correction officers such as my mother and the people that I know look so bad."
The Department of Corrections and Community Service (DOCCS) in New York agreed with the public consensus on the inappropriate and harmful nature of Foster's joke.
Foster has since put on leave without pay while an internal investigation into his actions is completed.
The DOCCS released the following statement:
"Early this morning, DOCCS had been made aware of a despicable social media post by an employee of the Department. The comments made by this correction officer are in violation of multiple Department rules and will not be tolerated."
"The Department has engaged the Civil Rights Task Force, which we are members of, for a potential criminal prosecution."
"The Department has also launched an internal investigation to identify and discipline any staff who may have engaged with the posting."
Foster was not the only corrections officer who was involved in mocking the shooting in Buffalo, but because he was the one to create and distribute the meme, he was the only one to be put on leave, at least for the time being.
The names of the five other involved officers are listed here:
Foster is suspended for the moment while the New York Corrections Department looks into the creation of the meme and other behavior Foster has exhibited around the shooting and related events. Other officers who were involved may be investigated as well.
In the meantime, the Buffalo community continues to mourn the loss of 10 of their community members.