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Victims divided over Mark Wahlberg's racially motivated attacks

2015-01-20 22:00
Mark Wahlberg

Boston - Victims of one of Mark Wahlberg's racially motivated attacks as a teenage delinquent in segregated Boston in the 1980s are divided over whether the Oscar-nominated actor should be granted a pardon.

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 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.

In a pardon application filed in November and pending before the state parole board, Wahlberg acknowledges he was a teenage delinquent mixed up in drugs, alcohol and the wrong crowd. He argues that his 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.

Court documents in the 1986 attack identify Wahlberg, then 15, among a group of white boys who harassed a school group as they were leaving Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood that had seen racial tensions during the years the city was under court-ordered school integration.

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, an assault laced with racial abuse.

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.

Read more on:    mark wahlberg  |  celebrities  |  movies
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