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New York Prison Guard Suspended After “Despicable” Facebook Post Mocking Buffalo Mass Shooting Victims

By Jo Ellen Nott

Gregory C. Foster II, 46, a guard at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility, was suspended without pay on May 18, 2022, after posting a meme on Facebook that mocked the horrific deaths of ten innocent shoppers—all them Black—in a mass shooting four days earlier at a Buffalo supermarket.

The top half of the meme Foster posted showed the windows of a TOPS supermarket. On the bottom half of the meme were the words: “Clean up on aisle 3, no wait, aisle 4, also 7, 9, 12 and 13.” Above that Foster typed the question: “Too soon?”

“This should weed out some FB friends,” Foster added to the post, following the statement with a smiling emoji.

Foster has worked for 25 years as a guard with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Service (DOCCS). Employment records show he currently works at Attica, with a 2020 base pay of $75,563 that swelled to $185,482 with pandemic-related overtime.

DOCCS officials reacted to Foster’s post in a statement on May 17: “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.”

DOCCS went on to affirm that “the Department has engaged the Civil Rights Task Force, which we are members of, for potential criminal prosecution, and the Department has also launched an internal investigation to identify and discipline any staff who may have engaged with the posting.”

DOCCS did not identify Foster’s race, but a selfie of a white male posted to his Twitter account was discovered by the International Business Times.

On May 19, 2022, over two dozen New York lawmakers signed a letter to DOCCS officials urging them to fire Foster. Kenny Burgos, (D) a member of the Assembly’s Correction Committee and state senator Julia Salazar, (D) chair of the Senate’s Committee on Crime and Corrections, were the most influential signatories on the letter addressed to DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annuci.

DOCCS officials said they are on a path to terminate Foster and discipline the many other corrections officers who allegedly commented on the racist post, including giving it a thumbs up or adding a smiling emoji.

Sources: Albany Times Union, International Business Times, NBC News

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