“I don’t think he should get a pardon,” Kristyn Atwood 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.”
According to the AP, 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.
Court documents pertaining to the case identify Wahlberg among a group of white boys who harassed the Atwood’s group as they were leaving Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester. The mixed but racially divided Boston neighborhood is noted for tensions among residents during the years Boston was under court-ordered school integration.
The court documents mentioned that Wahlberg was 15 at the time of the incident, which involved the boys chasing the black children down the street while repeatedly shouting “n—–” and hurling rocks until an ambulance driver intervened.
Wahlberg and two other white youths were ultimately issued a civil rights injunction, which was a stern warning that if they committed another hate crime, they would be sent to jail.
In November, Wahlberg filed a pardon application, which is pending before the state parole board. The 43-year-old actor noted how he has turned his life around with a successful acting career, restaurant ventures and philanthropic work with inner city youths as he confessed to being a teenage delinquent caught up in drugs, alcohol and the wrong crowd. Through the pardon, Wahlberg is seeking official forgiveness for assaulting two Vietnamese men while trying to steal beer in 1988.
Regarding her incident, Atwood admitted that she still bears a scar from getting hit by a rock. Although no one was seriously injured, the attack is still felt by Mary Belmonte, the white teacher who brought the students to the neighborhood beach that day.
“I was really scared. My heart was beating fast. I couldn’t believe it was happening. The names. The rocks. The kids chasing,” Belmonte told the AP.
Despite everything, Belmonte feels Wahlberg is worthy of a pardon.
“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.”
Atwood, who is now 38 and living in Georgia, is adamant that Wahlberg should not get off easy for what he did.
“It was a hate crime and that’s exactly what should be on his record forever,” she said.