Actor Mark Wahlberg is seeking to be officially pardoned by the state of Massachusetts for his role in the 1988 assault of two Vietnamese men. Prior to that attack, Wahlberg, now 43, was involved in an assault in 1986. The earlier incident was deemed to be racially motivated, which resulted in the actor being given a civil rights injunction by the assistant district attorney, who recently wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe in which the penalty was described as nothing more than a “stern warning.” The victims of that crime are speaking out regarding Wahlberg’s quest for exoneration, and the feelings are mixed. Some of them are for the granting of the pardon, while others are against it and feel that the crime should remain on his record forever.
Kristyn Atwood, 38, was one of the mainly black 4th graders who were on a field trip in 1986 when the former rapper and some of his friends, all of whom were white, yelled racial slurs and threw rocks at the students. Speaking to The Associated Press, Atwood says that she does not want the Boogie Nights star to be pardoned, regardless of how famous he is. “If you’re a racist, you’re always going to be a racist,” she added.
At the time of the attack in 1986, the actor was 15. During the incident, he and his friends yelled “Kill the n-s!” and threw rocks, one of which hit Atwood, leaving a scar which remains to this day. The group of white men stopped only after an ambulance driver came upon the scene and stopped it. Atwood says that because the group committed “a hate crime,” it should not be removed from Wahlberg’s record.
The teacher who was supervising the students on the trip, Mary Belmonte, is white. She believes that Wahlberg should receive a pardon, because “she believe[s] in forgiveness.” She says that the actor was just following his friends when the group was attacked, and that “he was just a young kid – a punk” growing up on the streets of Boston. Even though Belmonte recalls being very frightened and in disbelief during the attack, she advocates a pardon for her assailant.
The three young men, one of whom was Wahlberg, were given a civil rights injunction for their role in the attack. The injunction mandates that should one of the group commit another hate crime, the repeat offender would go to jail. The 1988 attack on the Vietnamese men, from which he was trying to steal beer, happened when the actor was 16. Court documents filed by police in the case allege that the star of Ted used a five-foot-long stick to knock one of the men unconscious. He punched the other victim in the face and used racial epithets during the incident. The crime violated the injunction and Wahlberg was sent to jail for felony assault.
For his part, the actor claims that he works hard to positively influence the younger generation in an attempt to prevent them from committing the same type of crimes. In his application for a state pardon, Wahlberg explains that he was drunk when the attacks occurred and apologizes for his actions and for “any lasting damage that I may have caused the victims.”
The prosecuting attorney in the 1988 attack, Judith Beals, believes that because Wahlberg has not “acknowledged the racial nature of his crimes,” he should not be pardoned. She adds that she worked in the attorney general’s office for 13 years and during that time, the only person to ever violate a civil rights injuction was Wahlberg.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Photo by Eva Rinaldi cropped for size – License