Last week, actor Mark Wahlberg said in an interview at the Toronto Film Festival that he “regrets” filing a request in late 2014 to be pardoned for an assault conviction after he beat an elderly Vietnamese American man in 1988. I first reported about Wahlberg’s request in 2014, and that post quickly became one of the most shared posts in the blog’s history (crashing my server and necessitating a host migration; thanks Marky Mark!).
In 1988, Wahlberg was arrested and charged with attempted murder for attacking Vietnamese American Thanh Lam on April 8th of that year. According to the criminal complaint, Lam was unloading his car when Wahlberg approached him with a wooden club, called him a “Vietnam fucking shit”. He then smashed the middle-aged man in the head so severely he broke the stick in two. Wahlberg then fled with two friends when police appeared. A few blocks away from where Lam was assaulted, Walberg encountered Hoah Trinh, also Vietnamese American. Wahlberg approached Trinh and, after waiting for a police cruiser to pass, punched Trinh in the eye, permanently blinding him.
Police were able to detain Wahlberg later that night, at which point Wahlberg confessed to assaulting Lam saying, “you don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker who’s head I split open.” When Trinh identified Wahlberg as also having punched him in the eye, Wahlberg was arrested, at which point he reportedly let loose a string of racist anti-Asian slurs, including “gook” and “slant-eyed gooks”.
Initially charged with attempted murder, Wahlberg later plead guilty to assault and served forty-five days in jail stemming from the 1988 assault.
Last week, attention returned to Mark Wahlberg‘s 1988 attempted murder and contempt of court charges relating to a series of hate-related attacks targeting Vietnamese American and Black victims after the actor submitted a request to have his criminal record expunged. Yesterday, the Daily Mail published an interview with one of Wahlberg’s two 1988 assault victims, wherein the middle-aged Vietnamese American husband and father forgives the actor for his wayward youth, and supports the pardon request.
Yesterday, I expressed that I appreciated and respected Trinh’s forgiveness, but wondered whether there was more room for Wahlberg to be — as he says — a leader, and not a follower on community service.
I suggested that perhaps Wahlberg could pay restitution to Trinh and his other victims — who are named in the criminal complaint — as compensation for the physical and emotional damage he inflicted upon them in relation to his bias-related assaults. I suggested also that he could donate some of his Hollywood salary to the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) and to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the two advocacy groups that solicited his original 1993 apology for the assaults. CAAAV, in particular, could use the funds: the group is focused on (among other campaigns) organizing vulnerable multi-racial and multi-ethnic communities of recent immigrants living in low-income housing in New York City, and are doing so on an annual operating budget of roughly $300,000/year. That’s less than 2% of the money Wahlberg earned for starring in Transformers.
Or, here’s another great idea: Mark Wahlberg should finally — after 21 years — agree to make that anti-racist public service announcement commercial he promised he would make in 1993.
Today, the Daily Mail published an interview with one of Wahlberg’s assault victims. Hoa “Johnny” Trinh tells the paper that he wasn’t aware that his 1988 assailant was a Hollywood celebrity, and he forgives Wahlberg for the attack.