Facing protest, Wahlberg apologizes for ‘racist’ action
This story is from the Globe archives. It originally appeared February 19, 1993.
NEW YORK — Marky Mark answered the growing criticism of his two racially motivated assaults in Dorchester with a public apology yesterday, delivered by his manager under the billboard of Mark that towers over Times Square.
The Dorchester rapper-turned-underwear-model was in Hawaii, so his manager, Dick Scott, faced a gallery of cameras and tape recorders for a brief statement from Mark: “In 1986, I harassed a group of school kids on a field trip. Many of the students were African-American. In 1988, I assaulted two Vietnamese men over a case of beer. Racist slurs and language were used during these encounters. And people were seriously hurt. I am truly sorry for what I did.”
Mark Wahlberg, the name by which the courts recognize Marky Mark, spent 45 days in jail for the 1988 beatings.
Stripped to his skivvies and a smile in a high-profile Calvin Klein advertising campaign, Wahlberg, 21, has one of the most visible bodies in the country. Last week he became the high-profile target of two New York-based antibias groups, the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The groups joined forces against Wahlberg after he did not denounce comments by dance-hall reggae performer Shabba Ranks while the two hosted a British television program. On the show, Ranks said gays and lesbians should be “crucified.”
During a lengthy interview with the Globe last Friday, Wahlberg said he harbors no hate toward gays and disclosed that he frequently used alcohol, marijuana and other drugs as a youth. Yesterday, his statement repeated those claims.
“I was a teen-ager and intoxicated when I did these things, but that’s no excuse. Nor is it OK to beat people up because your friends are doing it. I know there are kids out there doing the same stuff now, and I just want to tell them ‘don’t do it.’ “
As part of a deal worked out between Scott and the groups, Wahlberg will film public service announcements condemning racial and homophobic violence.
The apology cut short plans for larger demonstrations and satisfied organizers of yesterday’s press conference, who had planned a wide negative publicity campaign to bring pressure against Wahlberg’s new employer Calvin Klein.
“Mark was interested in confronting the issues and clarifying his role. We were concerned that we dealt with the issues and these very aggressive charges,” said Suzanne Eagle, a Calvin Klein spokeswoman.
“Calvin saw the Marky Mark that we know today as someone who has really evolved and was someone very different from the Mark Wahlberg who was involved in those acts as a teen-ager in Boston.”
Wahlberg’s court appearances have continued past his teen years. He is scheduled to appear before a judge on March 2 to answer assault charges brought by a Dorchester man whose jaw was broken during a fight last August.