SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) — It’s a day of reckoning for a man convicted in a racially-motivated assault in Draper in 2016.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson sentenced Mark Porter, 59, to nine months in prison Thursday.
Porter has already served more than eight months in prison. With credit of time served, Porter is scheduled to get out of prison on June 15.
Today’s sentence comes after Porter was convicted of assaulting his African-American neighbor with a stun device.
“Despicable,” “distasteful,” and “ugly” are just a few words Judge Benson used to describe Porter’s actions.
“This is a man who has been a racist is whole life,” said Dave Backman, the Criminal Chief at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “It’s clear in court that he is not a changed person from this jury verdict. I’m not sure his sentence would have changed that.”
Both U.S. Attorney John Huber and Salt Lake City Branch President of the NAACP Jeanetta Williams recommended Porter serve 37 to 46 months in jail.
“I was very surprised and disappointed because it doesn’t send a clear message that you can do a hate crime and you get a slap on the wrist,” said Williams. “I felt that the nine months is a slap on the wrist.”
Judge Benson reiterated the fact that having racist thoughts or sharing racist comments is not illegal; however, acting violently on those beliefs is and that’s how Porter broke the law.
“In our country… we enjoy great freedoms,” said Backman. “One of those is the freedom of speech. That covers racists, but that does not cover someone who resorts to violence. That’s our concern about Mr. Porter. He is someone who is not only a racist, but also a violent racist.”
Mr. Porter is also getting heat for body cam footage that was recently released to the public, revealing his true thoughts.
“Hitler had the right idea, but the wrong people,” said Porter. “He should have gassed those n******. I got Jesus in me. No n***** does.”
Williams says she hopes Utahns will learn the importance of reporting violent crime from this case.
“A lot of times we see people doing these type of things, they don’t get reported at all,” said Williams. “We’re hoping that in the state of Utah, if you’re seeing these things, then it needs to be reported.”