While the public hearings of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are still ongoing, Mark Ponder, a Black MAGA supporter, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for assaulting police officers during the Capitol riot.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan handed down the more than five-year sentence on July 26. His sentence tied with the longest for the Capitol attackers. It is the same amount that of Robert Scott Palmer, who attacked law enforcement officers with a fire extinguisher, NBC reported.
Ponder, a 56-year-old Washington, DC resident, participated in two separate attacks on law enforcement during the riot. Ponder used a pole to assault law enforcement officers.
In April, Ponder, a supporter of President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty and has been held without bond since March 2021. Ponder told federal agents that police were “part of the problem” during the riot.
One of the officers Ponder attacked was Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Gonell testified at Ponder’s sentencing committee.
“He didn’t care whether I was a police officer or not. He didn’t care if I had a family or not,” Gonell said.
To Judge Chutkan Gonell asked, “Please do not fall for his plea because that day he didn’t care about me” and described Ponder’s explanation that he got caught up in the moment as “BS.”
Ponder struck Gonell’s riot shield with a pole and the force of the strike cracked the riot shield and broke the pole, according to court filings. Ponder picked up another pole, this one wrapped in red, white and blue stripes, and continued his attack, CNN reported. Police ultimately escorted Ponder away from the Upper West Terrace and Ponder urged his fellow rioters on by saying they “have a right to fight … that is what the Second Amendment was built on.”
Police were unable to transport Ponder from the Capitol, and when he was released, Ponder went right back to the Capitol and continued to participate in the riot.
Ponder was arrested two months after the attack. At that time, he told federal agents, “The way this country is going, you [officers] gonna have to pick a side.”
Before announcing down her sentence, Judge Chutkan said that Ponder “wasn’t defending himself or anyone else; he was trying to injure those officers.”
Ponder also spoke, saying, “I wasn’t thinking. That day I wasn’t thinking, and I’m extremely sorry for that.”
Ponder was one of four DC residents arrested for violence during the Jan. 6 riot.
Gonell told reporters last month that he will “never be back in uniform” because of the injuries he sustained on Jan. 6.
Photo: Mark Ponder has been sentenced to five-plus years in prison for attacking officers during the Capitol riot (Screenshot / WUSA9)