Mark Wahlberg's past of racist attacks has come back to haunt him on social media amid a re-energized Black Lives Matter movement that has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality. The Deepwater Horizon star voiced his support for Black Lives Matter and called George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers "heartbreaking." But he was also dragged on Twitter last week for once posting prayer-hand emojis in response to an Instagram post to support the movement days after Floyd's death.
A Twitter user shared a screenshot of Wahlberg's response to a person sending their condolences to Floyd's family. Wahlberg's tweet consisted of just two praying-hand emojis with a heart emoji between them. A few days later on Wednesday, he shared the same combination of emojis after his Instagram post of Floyd's picture. "The murder of George Floyd is heartbreaking," Wahlberg wrote. "We must all work together to fix this problem. I'm praying for all of us. God bless."
mark wahlberg better shove those prayer emojis up his fucking ass pic.twitter.com/yCkHc8L6DK— mina (@minaonfilm) June 2, 2020
Like many celebrities who have pasts incidents involving racist language, Wahlberg's new posts on Black Lives Matter have been inundated with reminders of his past growing up in Boston, which have all been well-documented. In 1986, Wahlberg and a group of friends yelled the n-word at three black children and yelled racist slurs at other black students who were on a beach field trip. Wahlberg faced a civil lawsuit for violating the civil rights of the students and reached a settlement.
The most high-profile case involving Wahlberg happened in April 1988, when he beat two Vietnamese men on different days. Police said Wahlberg yelled racial slurs at the two men and was charged with attempted murder. He pleaded guilty to felony assault and only spent the first 45 days of a two-year sentence in jail. The second victim, Johnny Trinh, served in the South Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War, fighting alongside Americans. Wahlberg has been frequently asked about the 1988 crimes.
Wahlberg controversially applied for a pardon in 2014. In September 2016, Wahlberg apologized for attempting to get the pardon, but the controversy only resulted in reminding people about the case. His victims and prosecutor Judith Beals said in 2015 that Wahlberg should never be pardoned. "When I decided to go and petition for a pardon, it wasn't based on the things I accomplished in my career," Wahlberg said in December 2014. "It's been the things I've been able to do in my personal life: giving back to the community and helping kids, especially inner-city kids and at-risk youth and kids growing up in that same situation."
With this past in mind, many found Wahlberg's support for Black Lives Matter insincere. "Doesn't get any more white or vague than this response. Sorry," one person wrote on the actor's Instagram page. "Bro, you used to beat up black and Asian people when you were younger," another wrote.