/  07.27.2022

Yesterday (July 26), D.C. District Judge Tanya Chutkan delivered one of the harshest sentences yet for anyone involved in the Jan. 6 Capitol Riots. Mark Ponder, a Black man, was sentenced to over five years in prison for his role as an insurrectionist. In April, Ponder pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement officials and has been held without bond since March 2021, according to CNN.

The 56-year-old Trump supporter was captured on video repeatedly striking an officer with a red, white and blue pole. Sgt. Aquilino Gonell is a U.S. Capitol Police officer who was beaten by Ponder. “He didn’t care whether I was a police officer or not. He didn’t care [if] I had a family or not,” Gonell testified yesterday. “Please do not fall for his plea because that day he didn’t care about me,” the officer said to the judge. Just before informing the court of the sentence, Chutkan said Ponder “wasn’t defending himself or anyone else; he was trying to injure those officers.”

According to reports, the U.S. Justice Department recommended Ponder receive 60 months in prison for his crimes. Chutkan’s sentence added several months to that. Social media users quickly discussed how Ponder, a Black man, received one of the longest sentences for the Capitol Riots. “So out of 850 [Jan. 6] defendants so far, the one with the longest sentence is Mark Ponder, the only Black guy? Seriously? [Eight hundred and fourty-nine] white folks looking at more lenient charges than the one Black guy? That’s just, wow,” a tweet said. Another user added, “It was on this day, Mark Ponder realized he’s a Black man in America. Oh yes, just another Black man in America. On another note, I think I’ll have pizza for dinner.”

The only other insurrectionist to receive such a lengthy sentence so far is Robert Scott Palmer. Palmer, who is white, received a 63 months last year. He reportedly assaulted officers with a fire extinguisher. Yesterday, Ponder told the court, “That day I wasn’t thinking, and I’m extremely sorry for that.”

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