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1 of Mark Wahlberg's Victims Says He Shouldn't Be Pardoned

Posted by on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:05 AM
  • 66 Replies

1 of Mark Wahlberg's Victims Says He Shouldn't Be Pardoned

A victim of one of Mark Wahlberg's racially motivated attacks as a teenage delinquent in segregated Boston in the 1980s insists he shouldn't be granted a pardon for his crimes.

Kristyn Atwood was among a group of mostly black fourth-grade students on a field trip to the beach in 1986 when Wahlberg and his white friends began hurling rocks and shouting racial epithets as they chased them down the street.

"I don't think he should get a pardon," Atwood, now 38 and living in Decatur, Georgia, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"I don't really care who he is. It doesn't make him any exception. If you're a racist, you're always going to be a racist. And for him to want to erase it I just think it's wrong," she said.

Mary Belmonte, the white teacher who brought the students to the neighborhood beach that day, sees things differently. "I believe in forgiveness," she said. "He was just a young kid — a punk — in the mean streets of Boston. He didn't do it specifically because he was a bad kid. He was just a follower doing what the other kids were doing."

The 43-year-old former rapper, Calvin Klein model and "Boogie Nights" actor wants official forgiveness for a separate, more severe attack in 1988, in which he assaulted two Vietnamese men while trying to steal beer. That attack sent one of the men to the hospital and landed Wahlberg in prison.

Wahlberg, in a pardon application filed in November and pending before the state parole board, acknowledges he was a teenage delinquent mixed up in drugs, alcohol and the wrong crowd. He points to his ensuing successful acting career, restaurant ventures and philanthropic work with troubled youths as evidence he's turned his life around.

"I have apologized, many times," he told the AP in December. "The first opportunity I had to apologize was right there in court when all the dust had settled and I was getting shackled and taken away, and making sure I paid my debt to society and continue to try and do things that make up for the mistakes that I've made."

Court documents in the 1986 attack identify Wahlberg among a group of white boys who harassed the school group as they were leaving Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester, a mixed but segregated Boston neighborhood that had seen racial tensions during the years the city was under court-ordered school integration.

The boys chased the black children down the street, hurling rocks and racial epithets including "Kill the n-----s!" until an ambulance driver intervened. Wahlberg was 15 at the time.

Atwood still bears a scar from getting hit by a rock. No one was seriously injured, but the attack left other invisible — and indelible — scars.

"I was really scared. My heart was beating fast. I couldn't believe it was happening. The names. The rocks. The kids chasing," Belmonte told the AP.

Wahlberg and two other white youths were issued a civil rights injunction: essentially a stern warning that if they committed another hate crime, they would be sent to jail.

In 1988, Wahlberg, then 16, attacked two Vietnamese men while trying to steal beer near his Dorchester home.

According to the sentencing memorandum, he confronted Thanh Lam, a Vietnamese immigrant, as he was getting out of his car with two cases of beer. Wahlberg called Lam a "Vietnam f------ s---" and beat him over the head with a 5-foot wooden stick until Lam lost consciousness and the rod broke in two.

Documents say Wahlberg ran up to another Vietnamese man, Hoa Trinh, and asked for help hiding. After a police cruiser drove past, he punched Trinh in the eye. Later, he made crude remarks about "slant-eyed gooks."

Wahlberg ultimately was convicted of assault and battery, marijuana possession and criminal contempt for violating the prior civil rights injunction. Trinh declined to be interviewed by AP, and efforts to locate Lam were unsuccessful.

Judith Beals, a former state prosecutor involved in the cases, said Wahlberg's crimes stand out because he violated the injunction with an even more violent attack on people of yet another race.

"It was a hate crime and that's exactly what should be on his record forever," Atwood said.


AP reporters Johnny Clark in Atlanta, Steve LeBlanc in Boston and John Carucci in New York contributed to this report.

by on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:05 AM
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by Platinum Member on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:06 AM
4 moms liked this

:( he was one of my favorite actors - no more

by Platinum Member on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:08 AM

 I don't think he should be pardoned 

by Member on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM
I still think he's a sexy mf'er!
by AllieCat on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:10 AM

This isn't new news.

I remember when this happened.  He was indeed a punk ass kid and it made my stomach turn.

If I am understanding correctly, he is now seeking a pardon?  He did his time and he has turned himself, and his life around.  That should be enough.

I am curious as to why he is seeking a pardon.  Maybe I will google and see if there is any more out there on this.

by KK on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:11 AM

I agree, he shouldn't be pardoned.  While he may have grown up to see the error in his ways and gone on to change and grow into a better person his actions caused real harm to others and that shouldn't just be wiped off the slate.  

by New Member on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:12 AM
1 mom liked this
Pardoned or not doesn't change the fact that he did it. What matters now is whether or not he has changed his ways, and it appears he has. I'm sure a personal apology to these people wouldn't hurt.
by on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:14 AM
If he has really changed than he deserves the pardon. I don't know him personally so I can't say whether he has or not but I have seen others change their ways. Real change deserves forgiveness and a second chance.
by Jes on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:16 AM
10 moms liked this
Teenagers are stupid.

Especially when mixed up in drugs and gangs.

Everyone deserves a second chance and he obviously turned his life around...
by Bronze Member on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:17 AM
I would like to know if others who committed similar crimes and then turned their lives around have ever been pardoned.
by AllieCat on Jan. 20, 2015 at 11:17 AM

So I read this.... it's long but explains a bit more his reasoning and other elements.

I don't think he should receive the pardon other 'every day' felons who are trying to turn their lives around, or those who have, have not received.



CreditBen Wiseman

EVERY time I read about the actor Mark Wahlberg’s bid to be pardoned by the state of Massachusetts for crimes he committed in his youth, I flash back to the days I spent with him for a Times magazine profile just before “Boogie Nights” came out. I remember a specific detail.

He was then trying to pivot from being Marky Mark, the trash-talking rapper and underwear model, to being a serious actor. Over lunch one day, I asked him about his bulky eyeglasses, which sent a signal of studiousness that struck me as too emphatic. They weren’t familiar from any old images of him that I’d seen.

Was he nearsighted?

No, he said.



So what were they for?

He stalled and squirmed a bit. Then he conceded that they were just for effect.

In the story I submitted, I fleetingly mentioned the glasses. A fact checker questioned my description of them as “nonprescription,” because Wahlberg’s publicist, a savvy one, had insisted to her that it was an error and that we must take it out. But I had Wahlberg on tape. The description stayed.

Ah, Hollywood. It’s a place where reinvention rules supreme; where truth is often whatever script you can convincingly perform and persuasively sell; and where any details or bits of the past that run counter to your purposes are annoyances to be deleted. That applies both to what’s put on-screen — as “Selma,” “American Sniper” and a few of the other movies nominated for a Best Picture Oscar last week demonstrate — and to what you’re putting out there about yourself.

Elsewhere life is less easily manipulated. Wahlberg is confronting that now.

While there’s not yet been any decision about his pardon application, which was filed late last year, it has drawn no small measure of extra attention to him, much of it rightly negative.

What I wish it would do is amplify and broaden a conversation in America about the contradictions in the way we treat people who’ve done their time.

Generally, we send them back out into the world with the exhortation that they build or rebuild productive lives, which we’re invested in having them do. But we simultaneously saddle them with a dizzying range of restrictions, varying from state to state, that make that significantly more difficult.

We deny them kinds of government assistance available to others. We prevent them from engaging in all sorts of business transactions and jobs, and some of these prohibitions make little or no sense.

“We have people with real talents who aren’t able to employ those talents,” Mark Osler, a law professor who is an expert on pardons, told me. If our goal is to prevent recidivism, this isn’t a smart way to go about it.

Pardons eliminate many restrictions. And for people who’ve served their sentences, they should be more common. But they’re granted in a small enough minority of cases that it’s impossible to argue that Wahlberg’s should be one.

He’s 43 now. His crimes occurred at 16, in Dorchester, Mass. On a night when he has said that he was heavily intoxicated, he used a stick to hit a Vietnamese man on the head with such force that it knocked him unconscious. As he fled the police, he punched another Vietnamese man in the eye. All the while, he used racial slurs.

It wasn’t out of character. When he was 15, according to court documents, he was involved in two incidents of using racial slurs as he physically threatened black children. That matter was referred to civil court and he got off with a warning.

For the subsequent crimes, he served 45 days in prison, and he has said in interviews over time that once he got out, he was determined to be a different man.

That transformation was gradual and fitful. As Marky Mark in the early 1990s, he was known for using crude language about women. He was implicated in brawls.

He dedicated an autobiographical picture book to his penis.


Here in Canada anyone can get a pardon, provided you did your time and enough time (set by the federal govt) is put in place.Therefore, most...



Why hasn't he apologized to his victims?

Jim Holstun


Mr. Wahlberg, how about a million dollars apiece for your two victims, Mr. Thanh Lam and Mr. Hoa Trinh? It might feel particularly sincere...


SINCE then there have been many fine movies, an Oscar nomination, a wife, four kids. Several prominent Hollywood producers with whom I spoke last week said that his reputation in the industry today is sterling. They praised him as a joy to work with: sincere, diligent, humble.

In his pardon application, he said that he tried to get to church almost daily and that he devoted considerable time to working with troubled kids through the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, which has raised about $9.6 million over the years.

But he can afford that in a way that very few ex-cons can. And, oddly, one of many reasons Wahlberg cited for wanting a pardon has to do with money. He and his brothers are expanding their chain of Wahlburgers restaurants, and licensing in some states is complicated by his record of a felony conviction.

Advocates for Asian-Americans have complained that before filing his pardon application, Wahlberg never reached out to the Vietnamese community in Dorchester or to the victims of his crimes.

Some good could come from his appeal. “It shines a light on a beneficent power that has atrophied in Massachusetts,” Margaret Love, a lawyer with extensive knowledge about the pardon process, wrote in a recent blog post. With any luck, she added, it will encourage pardons “for the dozens of ordinary individuals whose futures may depend on it.”

But nothing that Wahlberg has said publicly suggests that he was motivated by that. He declined to be interviewed for this column.

And when I spoke with Love, asking her about the proper fate of his particular request for a pardon, she said, “Given the irregularity and the absence of pardons, I think it would be a very bad idea to single out someone of such a high profile.”

That’s exactly right. In Massachusetts, just four pardons have been granted over the last dozen years. If Wahlberg got one of the next ones, it would be going to a person whose unpardoned offenses don’t shadow him the way most former prisoners’ do. He’s the wrong poster boy for the right cause.

Financial generosity shouldn’t be a factor in his (or anyone else’s) favor: That’s just the criminal-justice system’s version of income inequality.

In his application he argued that getting a pardon could be an inspiration to people trying to turn their lives around and hoping for forgiveness. But to the less advantaged of them, it would be the opposite: a confirmation that being white, rich and famous earns you special treatment.

What he’s asking for isn’t just an image overhaul, a routine Hollywood rewrite.

If he can’t see that, he needs better glasses.

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