Mark Wahlberg, who recently filed a request with the Massachusetts Parole Board to have a 1988 felony assault conviction expunged from his record, is under fire from Asian activist group 18 Million Rising, who have launched a petition to attempt to torpedo the actor’s pardon request.
In a statement on its website, 18 Million Rising asked, “Why should someone who has done nothing to support his victims or atone for his crimes get a pardon?”
The statement continues:
In 1988, Mark Wahlberg attacked two Asian American men in separate racially motivated hate crimes. The first, Thanh Lam, was pummeled with a 5-foot long wooden stick. According to court documents, Wahlberg screamed, ‘Vietnam f***ing sh*t’ as he beat Lam unconscious. After fleeing the scene where he assaulted Lam, Wahlberg beat his second victim, Hoa Trinh, punching him in the eye and leaving him blind.
Now, over 25 years after these horrific crimes, Wahlberg is petitioning the Massachusetts State Parole Board and Governor Deval Patrick to pardon his hate crime conviction. Wahlberg claims that he is a changed man, and no longer the person he was in 1988 when he shamelessly shattered the lives of two Asian men…
We demand that the Massachusetts State Parole Board and Governor Patrick deny Mark Wahlberg a pardon for his hate crimes. Not only is granting a pardon an affront to justice, but even asking for one completely disrespects Wahlberg’s victims.
The group also attacked Wahlberg’s motives for seeking the pardon; according to them, Wahlberg wants his record clean so that he can expand his chain of “Wahlburgers” restaurants into California. In order to obtain a liquor license in California, Wahlberg would need his felony conviction stricken.
But Wahlberg himself told the Associated Press recently that he is just “trying to be the best person” he can be, and that he will continue to do so “whether the pardon is granted or not.”
“Everyone has an opinion and has a reason why they think I’m doing it,” Wahlberg said. “I’ve been working very hard to correct a lot of mistakes that I made since the day I woke up and realized, ‘You know what? I need to be a leader instead of a follower.'”
Wahlberg admitted in his pardon application that he was high on drugs when he committed the assault. He said he was sentenced to three months in jail and ended up serving 45 days.
“In no way, shape, or form was I trying to use my celebrity or success to say, ‘Well, I feel entitled to get this because of the fame and fortune,'” Wahlberg told the AP.
“And it’s not like the story hasn’t been talked about,” the actor continued. “I’ve been talking about it for 25 years. You read any piece that’s ever been done on me, it’s really the same old kind of story, and for me to kind of be able to move on from that and move forward and continue to show kids that anything’s possible.”
TMZ reported this week that Wahlberg is seeking the pardon so that he can become a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. Convicted felons are not allowed to carry firearms, which would preclude Wahlberg from becoming an officer.
Wahlberg will appear next in Paramount Pictures’ The Gambler, to be released December 19.