True Story Behind Mark Wahlberg’s Hate Crimes, Arrests, and Pardon

Project Casting

Here’s the story behind Mark Wahlberg’s troubled past and how he has tried to make up for it in the last five years.

Before starring in ‘Transformers’ and kicking butt in ‘Pain and Gain‘ Mark Wahlberg was a troubled kid with a troubled past. Few people may know this but, prior becoming a Hollywood success Mark Wahlberg  was charged with a hate crime after severely beating up two Vietnamese men in 1989.

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Mark Wahlberg has been in trouble at least 20 t0 25 times with the Boston Police Department when he was a kid. By 13, Mark Wahlberg had developed an addiction to cocaine and other drugs. At 15, a civil action was filed against Mark Wahlberg for his involvement in two separate incidents of harassing African American children, by throwing rocks and showing racial slurs. At 16, Mark Wahlberg approached a Vietnamese man named Than Lam on the street and, using a large wooden stick, knocked him unconscious while calling him “Vietnam fucking shit.” The same day Mark Wahlberg also attacked another Vietnamese man named Hoa “Johnny” Trinh, punching him in the face. Mark Wahlberg left his victim permanently blind in one eye.

According to court documents regarding these crimes, when Wahlberg was arrested later that night and returned to the scene of the first assault, he stated to police officers: “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker who’s (sic) head I split open.” Investigators also noted that Wahlberg “made numerous unsolicited racial statements about ‘gooks’ and ‘slant-eyed gooks’.”

Mark Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two years in Suffolk County Dear Island House of Correction. He ultimately only served 45 days of his sentence. In another, incident 21-year-old Wahlberg fractured the jaw of a neighbor in an unprovoked attack.

Commenting on his previous crimes, Mark Wahlberg said:

“I did a lot of things that I regret, and I have certainly paid for my mistakes.” He said the right thing to do would be to try to find the blinded man and make amends, and admitted he has not done so, but added that he was no longer burdened by guilt: “You have to go and ask for forgiveness and it wasn’t until I really started doing good and doing right by other people, as well as myself, that I really started to feel that guilt go away. So I don’t have a problem going to sleep at night. I feel good when I wake up in the morning.” [ABC News]

After going to prison for assault, he decided to change his life and his behavior. According to Mark Wahlberg, “As soon as I began that life of crime, there was always a voice in my head telling me I was going to end up in jail. Three of my brothers had done time. My sister went to prison so many times I lost count. Finally I was there, locked up with the kind of guys I’d always wanted to be like. Now I’d earned my stripes and I was just like them, and I realized it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I’d ended up in the worst place I could possibly imagine and I never wanted to go back. First of all, I had to learn to stay on the straight and narrow.”

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Wahlberg first relied on the guidance of his parish priest to turn his back on crime. He told his street gang that he was leaving them and had “some serious fights” with them over it. The actor commented in 2009: “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I’ve done bad things, but I never blamed my upbringing for that. I never behaved like a victim so that I would have a convenient reason for victimizing others. Everything I did wrong was my own fault. I was taught the difference between right and wrong at an early age. I take full responsibility.”

Most recently, Mark Wahlberg asked to be pardoned for his previous crimes. But his victims and the prosecutors say it should never happen. “In the 13 years I served in the attorney general’s office, I recall only one instance of a defendant violating a civil rights injunction — Mark Wahlberg,” former prosecutor Judith Beals wrote this week in the Boston Globe.

I’m glad Mark Wahlberg has turned his life around. I’ve read that Hoa Trinh has forgiven him. But a public pardon is an extraordinary public act, requiring extraordinary circumstances because it essentially eliminates all effects of having ever been convicted. It is reserved to those who demonstrate “extraordinary contributions to society,” requiring “extensive service to others performed, in part, as a means of restoring community and making amends.” On this, I am not sold.

First, Wahlberg has never acknowledged the racial nature of his crimes. Even his pardon petition describes his serial pattern of racist violence as a “single episode” that took place while he was “under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.” For a community that continues to confront racism and hate crime, we need acknowledgment and leadership, not denial.

Another woman, Kristyn Atwood, was 9 when Mark Wahlberg and his friends threw rocks at her and her friends’ heads while they were out on a school field trip.

“When people talk about racism in Boston, I always remember that,” Atwood told the Globe.”For him to try to get it overturned and make it seem like it never happened? I don’t think that’s fair.”

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