The Real Life Legal Challenges of Mark Wahlberg Explained

The Real Life Legal Challenges of Mark Wahlberg Explained

Mark Wahlberg has had a multifaceted career in entertainment, transitioning from the cheesy rapper Marky Mark to a sought-after actor with roles in films like the 1996 thriller “Fear” and 1997’s “Boogie Nights.” Despite his success, Wahlberg has struggled to escape his troubled past, which includes a series of racially motivated hate crimes committed during his youth in Boston.

In 1986, a 15-year-old Wahlberg and two other teenagers were charged with yelling racial slurs and throwing rocks at three Black children. The following day, they repeated the same actions against a group of mostly African American fourth-grade students on a field trip. One of the victims, Kristyn Atwood, expressed in 2015 that she doesn’t believe Wahlberg should be pardoned for his actions. “I don’t really care who he is,” Atwood said. “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.”

Conversely, Mary Belmonte, the teacher supervising the field trip, argued that Wahlberg deserves forgiveness. “He didn’t do it specifically because he was a bad kid,” she said. “He was just a follower doing what the other kids were doing.”

Wahlberg’s legal troubles didn’t end there. At 16, he was involved in another racially charged crime in Boston, which led to jail time. In April 1988, Wahlberg attacked two Vietnamese men, hitting one with a five-foot-long stick and punching the other in the eye, all while yelling racial slurs. He was charged as an adult and served 45 days of a two-year jail sentence. In 2014, Wahlberg requested a pardon from the state of Massachusetts, expressing remorse for his past actions. Johnny Trinh, one of the victims, supported the pardon, stating, “He paid for his crime when he went to prison… He has grown up now. I am sure he has his own family and is a responsible man.”

Wahlberg confirmed in a 2016 interview with TheWrap that he had personally apologized to Trinh and his family. However, he expressed regret over the pardon application, saying, “I was kind of pushed into doing it… I certainly didn’t need to or want to relive that stuff over again.”

Wahlberg’s past has earned him significant criticism, especially as it has resurfaced in recent years. In 2020, he was accused of hypocrisy after expressing sympathy for George Floyd, an African American police brutality victim. Many questioned why he was chosen to present an award to the primarily Asian cast of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” at the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Journalist Heather Robinson criticized Wahlberg’s public apologies, stating, “Wahlberg committed these horrific crimes as a minor, & there should be a path to redemption. But there’s something wrong with him casting himself as a saint in film after film & never even discussing the true hate crimes he committed.”

Despite the criticism, Wahlberg remains a bankable name in Hollywood. He has managed to stay away from legal trouble in his three decades as an actor, although his past continues to haunt him.

Born Mark Robert Michael Wahlberg on June 5, 1971, in Boston, Massachusetts, Wahlberg is the youngest of nine children. His early life was marked by a series of violent and racially motivated attacks. In 1986, he and three friends chased after three Black children while yelling racial slurs and throwing rocks at them. The next day, they harassed a group of mostly Black fourth-graders on a field trip, leading to a civil rights injunction against Wahlberg and his friends.

In April 1988, Wahlberg assaulted a middle-aged Vietnamese-American man, knocking him unconscious with a large wooden stick. Later that day, he attacked another Vietnamese-American, Johnny Trinh, punching him in the eye. Wahlberg was initially arrested for attempted murder but pleaded guilty to felony assault. He was sentenced to three months in jail but served only 45 days. Wahlberg believed he had left Trinh permanently blind in one eye, although Trinh later revealed he had lost his eye during the Vietnam War.

In August 1992, Wahlberg fractured the jaw of his neighbor Robert Crehan in an unprovoked attack. Wahlberg’s attorney claimed that the attack was provoked after Crehan called Wahlberg’s friend, who is Black, a racial slur. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

In 2014, Wahlberg applied for a pardon for his convictions, which sparked controversy. He later said he regretted the attempt to obtain a pardon, and his petition was closed after he failed to respond to a request from the pardon board. In 2016, Wahlberg met with Trinh and apologized for his actions, and Trinh publicly forgave him.

Wahlberg first gained fame as the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block. He later formed the group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, achieving a hit with “Good Vibrations.” He transitioned to acting in the early 1990s, earning critical praise for his role in “Boogie Nights” and appearing in successful films like “The Perfect Storm” and “The Italian Job.” He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Departed” and has since become a prominent figure in Hollywood.

Despite his troubled past, Wahlberg has managed to build a successful career in entertainment. He has stayed away from legal trouble in recent years, although his past actions continue to be a topic of discussion and criticism.

Source: Static Media, The Smoking Gun, TheWrap, Daily Mail, Associated Press, BBC

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