I was a bit shocked when I stumbled on this information while surfing the Internet. What happened was a bit unimaginable and beyond my own comprehension. I can honestly say that I have never had the thought or the urge to commit a racially-motivated violent and brutal attack on another human being. Hey, that’s just me.
So, I was quite struck with dismay and shock when I read that super-star Mark Wahlberg had done such a thing, something so full of disregard, hate, and complete brutality.
Therefore, I was moved to write about it. Honestly, my motivation was partly anger: I remembered being bullied by racist kids when I was a child. And I had as many reasons to do bad things when I was a child too, but never even dreamed of doing what Mark Wahlberg had done; I grew up poor, raised by a neglectful single mother, in a violent neighborhood. Yet, I never did, nor ever wanted to attack anyone and most of all not for any racial reasons.
We will look at what it was exactly that Mark Wahlberg did back in his youth, who his victims were and the damage he did to them, and what was the outcome and his response to his own actions.
The Hate Crimes
The first incident occurred when Mark Wahlberg was 15 years old. He had already been hooked on cocaine and other drugs since the beginning of his teens. I imagine it is a time in a person’s life when he is energetic and mischievous. Though, I have to wonder about the extremity of Mark’s crimes at this age.
The assault occurred over a period of two days. Mark and his gang seemed a bit transfixed on attacking a group of black school children whom they stalked and attacked verbally and physically. On June 15, 1986 Mark and three other teenagers approached 12-year-old Jesse Coleman and his older brother and sister as they were walking home. The group chased the group of black school children on their bikes; one of the assailants told the children, “We don’t like black ni–ers in the area so get the f–k away from the area!”
The group continued to chase the children on their mopeds, yelling, “Kill the ni–ers! Kill the ni–ers!” Each one of Mark’s little gang threw rocks at their victims. By the time the children reached Burger King, Mark and the rest of the bullies turned and left; I’m assuming they didn’t want their actions witnessed in a business area where they’d easily be spotted.
The next day, while Jesse Coleman was on a field trip to the beach with his class, Mark and his gang followed the group to the beach. As the group was returning from the field trip, Mark’s group began yelling racial slurs at the children; Mark and his friends summoned more to join him and they threw rocks at the children, one hitting a black girl and another hitting a white girl. The teacher was able to get an ambulance there and the attackers ran away.
Nearly two years later, on April 8, 1988, Mark decided to turn his hatred towards Asians. Thanh Lam, while carrying two cases of beer from his car to his home, was struck by a large wooden stick wielded by Mark Wahlberg; Mark, at this time, called Thanh a “Vietnam fu–ing sh-t!” The blow knocked the man out.
Mark and two others left the scene. Mark then ran into another Vietnamese man named Hoa Trinh; at first asking the man for help in hiding from the police, when police came along, Wahlberg punched the man in the eye, knocking him to the ground; Trinh ended up losing that eye.
While in police custody, Mark continued to refer to “Slant-eyed g–ks” and other such slurs.
All of this is a matter of public record and Wahlberg admits to these incidents openly. For the last crime, Wahlberg was sentenced to two years in prison, but served 45 days and was released.
Mark Wahlberg Repents
Like many people who have committed horrendous acts in the past, Mark has attempted to repent. He has taken that lame and over-done route of “finding God” and going to church, and has also started a charity foundation that helps at-risk youth.
It seems in his youth, Mark was helped by a neighborhood Catholic priest and the Boys and Girls Club to clean up his act. While the Boys and Girls Club was not too effective, they had to ban him from the club back in the day, the priest has remained friends with Mark since his youth. Mark has contributed money to the parish.
Well, if he needs to convince himself that he’s a good person, or needs the aid of religion to do the right thing, I guess a person needs to do what they need to do. But all it really takes is a little bit of honesty, no need for all the fluff.
While I have to wonder what was behind such hatred and cruelty, the fact remains that the crimes Mark Wahlberg committed occurred when he was a foolish youth, in a rough neighborhood, while he was hooked on hard drugs. Many of us in our youth make major errors, it is a time when we are at the peak of confusion and still learning hard lessons. Repentant or not, Mark’s violent behavior is in the past.
Mark’s Hate Crimes
June 15, 1986
Jesse Coleman and his brother and sister and by-standers, attacked due to being black
Stalked, verbally attacked and threatened victims and threw rocks which struck victims
April 8, 1988
Thanh Lam and Hoa Trinh, attacked due to being Vietnamese
Victim called racial slurs and struck with heavy stick and knocked out. Other victim punched in the eye and lost eye due to attack.
Update | December 18, 2014
I thought I’d give an update here because a couple of things have happened recently related to these past hate crimes committed by Wahlberg. He has formally applied to the Massachusetts Board of Pardons to be pardoned for his 1988 conviction for the assault of the two Vietnamese men. Of course, there are people on both sides, some on his side and some who don’t think he should be pardoned. However, he states that he has made something better of himself and wants to serve as an example that no matter what your life is like and what you’ve done, you can change.
Interestingly, one of his victims, Hoa Trinh, has come out and forgiven him. He says, basically, that we can make mistakes and be reckless in our youth and, for him, it’s all in the past. He also states that Mark didn’t put out his eye, he actually lost his eye in the Vietnam War. He also hadn’t even been aware who it was who assaulted him; he didn’t know it was someone who’s become a major celebrity now.
There are indeed compelling arguments against Mark getting a pardon; one being that it doesn’t really help his case of wanting to be an inspiration to youth. In fact, letting the conviction stand is better testimony about his mistake and that he’s moved on from it. And many agree that Mark never handled his misdeeds well.
Still his victim, Mr. Trinh, has forgiven him and comes forth with great understanding and, in fact, compassion. Quite ironic.
But it gets better. Turns out Mark’s people have contacted Mr. Trinh and Mark intends to meet with him. Looks like there is still time to make amends yet. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.
Update | January 15, 2015
Well, we didn’t have to wait long for this story to unfold. The prosecutor that worked to convict Wahlberg of his 1988 crime against the Vietnamese men has come out against giving him a pardon. Judith Beals, the attorney, is very accurate in stating that Wahlberg never really admitted publicly that what he committed in the late 80s were hate crimes and, in fact, a series of them. Like quite the bad habit. There is much missing in his mishandling of this issue. Even his request for the pardon makes it sound like his crime was an isolated incident, which, as you know, was not. He also makes no mention of the racial aspect of the incident.
I’d agree with Beals that a pardon sends a wrong message. If we are to pardon Wahlberg, then there’s a long list of people that should be pardoned. Why him?
Of course, it should be mentioned, for one thing Mark mentioned it in his request for a pardon, that he is trying to get a concessionaire’s license for his restaurants. Looks like that conviction could interfere with him getting that license. Seems when he finally takes action on this hate crime issue, it’s still kind of all about him.
Update January 21, 2015 | Other Victim Not So Forgiving
It’s been reported that a victim from the 1986 hate crime Wahlberg committed, for which he had received a civil rights injunction, does not think he should be forgiven and pardoned. She says he’s still a racist and his crime was a hate crime and the conviction should stand.
Her name is Kristyn Atwood, now 38, and she was among the kids who had rocks thrown at them in ’86 while Mark also hurled threats and the N-word. She was hit by one of the rocks.
However, the teacher who was with the kids at the time, Mary Belmonte, while admitting the incident was terrifying and horrific, has taken a sympathetic stance with Wahlberg, believing he should be forgiven.
Looks like this isn’t over yet.
Update February 3, 2015 | Former Bodyguard Against Pardon
The list of people who do not want to see Wahlberg get the pardon for hate crimes he committed in the 1980s is ever-growing, it seems. His former bodyguard who used to be a part of his entourage had sued Wahlberg for an incident in 2001 in which he claims that Wahlberg punched him and bit his arm. According to Leonard Taylor, the bodyguard, Mark runs hot and cold and will be happy with you one minute and giving you the evil eye the next. He thinks Wahlberg really hasn’t changed.
Speaking of entourage, made me think of the incident in which Wahlberg and his entourage got into a brawl with Madonna’s entourage, which occurred close to the time he was in hot water for giving a guy a brutal beatdown at a Boston park back in the early 1990s.