Is Mark Wahlberg the unintentional poster-boy for the protest movement?


WASHINGTON, December 5, 2014 — Does Mark Wahlberg realize that had he been a 16-year-old offender in today’s police state, he might not have survived his arrest to beg the State of Massachusetts’ pardon?

Survival is what some of today’s protests are about.

Surviving the police state is becoming increasingly difficult. The protestors are not speaking out against police who are doing their jobs. There are criminals out there and the police serve a difficult, dangerous and important role. Without the police, our cities — including predominantly black cities and neighborhoods — would be worse than they are, not better.

It is about the fact that too many police officers are assuming too much power and taking it to an all-too-often deadly conclusion. Just ask Eric Garner’s family.

Wahlberg is an example of how we can redefine our lives if given the chance. He is an example of why police on the street should see citizens — even badly behaved ones — as citizens, not just as criminals because they are young, black, or just not standing where cops want them to stand.

Unlike Garner, or the person in the above video, Wahlberg is seeking a pardon from the state of Massachusetts for an assault he committed in 1988 at the age of 16. He filed for the pardon on November 26. Various reports describe the young Wahlberg as quite the thug. He had more than 20 interactions with police, and reportedly used drugs like cocaine and PCP.

At the age of 16, Walhberg attempted to steal two cases of alcohol from in front of a convenience store near his family’s home in the Dorchester section of Boston. In the course of his attempted crime, he hit a man in the head, leaving him blinded in one eye. In his application, Wahlberg says he was high on marijuana and narcotics at the time.

The actor and father has never asked that we forget his mistakes, speaking openly and contritely about his crime.

And now he is asking that the state of Massachusetts to accept his apology and forgive him.

Wahlberg has attained Hollywood elite status, but first and foremost he considers himself the father of four children, two boys and two girls, all under eleven. The actor is in a committed marriage to Rhea Durham, today a rarity in both real life and in Hollywood. Wahlberg’s rise to fame was cemented in Times Square circa 1992, now one of the places where protests are being held, in a bigger-than-life Calvin Klein underwear billboard.

Today he is one of Hollywood’s most powerful men – a triple threat actor, producer, and entrepreneur. He just stared in Transformers: Age of Extinction, and his newest film, The Gambler, is set to open in theaters December 19. His future films include Ted 2 and the first Entourage movie, which is in postproduction. Wahlberg is behind the award winning Boardwalk Empire. As bespeaks his Boston upbringing, Wahlberg attends Catholic Mass with his family every Sunday that he can.

He has had his youthfully acquired tattoos removed and has gone back to complete his high school education, earning his equivalency diploma online. The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation works to help kids and catch them through groups like Boys and Girls Clubs of America, so that they have opportunities to make something of their lives.

Wahlberg started out on the wrong side of the law. Should he have lost his life for his crimes?

The Massachusetts Parole Board will have to review Wahlberg’s case and make a recommendation to the governor, who has the ultimate authority to grant pardons.

His petition says he has dedicated himself to becoming a better person in his adult years so that he can be a role model to his children and others. While most of those he tries to help won’t become megastars, many will become parents and role models. Like Wahlberg, they will make a positive impact in their community.

This last week there has been a lot of talk about youth, mistakes, and the unjustified killing of people, particularly black youth, by police. These are killings for which police give no apology, nor do they ask forgiveness, and sometimes they are wholly justified.

But before these killings there are the many smaller instances of harassment, false arrest, and police brutality that harm so many — like Eric Garnier whose family is now paying the ultimate price because they lost their husband, father, brother, son to what can only be described as police brutality.

Mark Wahlberg may have been better off letting sleeping dogs lie; he gains nothing by seeking a pardon. He has never denied or tried to hide his crime, so it is not an attempt to obfuscate his past.

And that is what the protests are about. They are about not being harassed, hurt, or killed by police when you don’t commit a crime, and being treated like a human being even when you do. They are about being given the chance to grow up.

They are not about hating the police or asking them to ignore crime.

The police are valuable public servants, and we must stand up and demand that they remember who and what they are. We — and they — should never tolerate casual brutality; we should never by keeping them from taking consequences for their mistakes prevent them from making better decisions. Before they pull the mace, the plastic cuffs or the gun, they should remember who they are dealing with — boys who, given the chance, might some day be good men, and men who some day might be worthy of the name.


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  • Will

    You left off the part where Mark Wahlberg (a white man) hit an Vietnamese American man over the head with a five-foot stick, leaving him unconscious, in the course of his attempted robbery and then punched another Asian man in the eye, blinding him, while calling him “gook” and “slant eye.” Mark Wahlberg has never attempted to hide his crime (I wonder if that has anything to do with the impossibility of doing so given his celebrity status). He has also never attempted to apologize publicly to his victims, particularly regarding the brutal racial slurs he used while assaulting them. Give me a celebrity of minority status who has been pardoned for committing a hate crime and I’ll submit that Mark Wahlberg deserves the same.