A litany of alleged racist hate crimes: Wahlberg’s past legal troubles


Wahlberg’s history with the law in his late teenage years was decidedly darker.

While living in Boston in the 1980s, Wahlberg was twice charged for race-related hate crimes, and ended up serving jail time for one of the attacks.

In 1986, a then 15-year-old Wahlberg and three friends were charged for chasing three black children and hurling rocks at them while yelling: “Kill the n*****s” until an ambulance driver intervened. The following day, Wahlberg targeted another group of predominantly black children aged around nine or 10 at the beach. He rallied other white men to join in racially harassing and throwing rocks at them.

Wahlberg was convicted of violating the civil rights of his victims. A civil rights injunction was issued against him and two of his friends, and the case was resolved the following month.

An apparently unrelated second incident occurred two years later in 1988, when Wahlberg attacked two Vietnamese men while high on the drug PCP. He called one man, Thanh Lam, a “Vietnam f***ing s***” and struck him unconscious with a five-foot wooden stick. Later that same day, he punched army veteran Johnny Trinh in the eye. Police reported that Wahlberg used racist language towards both men.

In this incident he was charged with attempted murder, but pleaded guilty to felony assault, claiming that he was intoxicated and denying racial motivation for the attacks.

However, due to his prior civil rights injunction prohibiting him from racially motivated violence, he was found in contempt of court and sentenced to a two-year prison term.

In 2014, Wahlberg attempted to seek pardon for the second attack and have it wiped from his criminal record. “I am deeply sorry for the actions that I took on the night of April 8, 1988, as well as for any lasting damage that I may have caused the victims,” Wahlberg wrote in his pardon application. “Since that time, I have dedicated myself to becoming a better person and citizen so that I can be a role model to my children and others.”

He later dropped this request. In 2016, Wahlberg said he had met with Trinh and apologized “for those horrific acts”. Trinh then released a public statement forgiving Wahlberg.

In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, he opened up further, and claimed that he had “done the work” to make things right.

“I took it upon myself to own up to my mistakes and go against the grain and not be a part of the gang any more – to say that I was going to go and do my own thing,” he explained.

“[It] made it 10 times more difficult to walk from my home to the train station, to go to school, to go to work. But I also prided myself on doing the right thing and turning my life around … I would hope that people would be able to get a second chance in life.”

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