Brookline students gather in protest for William Allen’s clemency



Devin McCourty and others spoke at the protest advocating for the clemency William Allen in the Boston Commons on October 5th.

A coalition of athletes, religious leaders, and social justice fighters came together on Tuesday to ask Governor Charlie Baker for one thing: to grant William Allen clemency.

At 4 p.m. on the Boston Common on Tuesday, Oct. 5th, over 100 people gathered in support of Governor Baker granting clemency to William Allen, a man who has served over 20 years of his life sentence for assisting in a robbery that led to a murder.

The event was organized by the Brockton Interfaith Community and headed by William Dickerson or Brother Will and the Second Chance Justice group. Many speakers were present, most notably Brother Will, Allen’s former prison chaplain Peg Neuman, and Patriots player Devin McCourty.

The scene was filled with a consensus of people hoping that Governor Baker will grant clemency to Allen, because if tried today, Allen would not be serving the life sentence he was given in 1997.

Allen was an accomplice to Rolando Perry in the robbery. Perry was charged with the second degree murder involved in the robbery and was released on parole in 2011. Brother Will didn’t see this as a case of the American justice system failing, but rather grimly, it succeeding.

“The system didn’t fail, they created these laws on purpose,” Brother Will said. “They unjustly created a dynamic, where William Allen was held accountable for a part of a crime that he didn’t do, when he should have been held accountable for the piece of it that he did do.”

Complementing these speakers were a large group of students from the high school, who joined in on chants between the speakers. The rally never moved from a small patch of grass on the edge of the Common near the Park Street T station entrance. The police presence was slim, with just a handful of cops on bikes in the distance.

Along with speeches calling for clemency, Brother Will performed a song and a young female pastor led a short prayer involving post cards that were handed out and later recolleted, all of which will be sent to Governor Baker.

The high school students predominantly were there participating in chants, and McCourty said he was still very happy to see them at the rally.

“Seeing Brookline students be able to look outside of themselves at a young age and do something that’s impactful to make a difference, is something I think is quite awesome,” McCourty said.

McCourty has become a large advocate for William Allen over the last few years, even encouraging his Patriot teammates and coaches to join in with their support. Letters to Governor Baker from both the coaching staff and the players of the Patriots were read aloud during the rally.

McCourty said it has been meaningful to see those around him become advocates as well.

“It’s been an honor to not only be a part of this, but see my teammates and coaches all come in and be a part of it as well,” McCourty said.

The executive director of the Brockton Interfaith Community, Brother Will, said he was also incredibly pleased by the presence of students from the high school.

“You guys are wonderful. You guys are freaking wonderful,” Dickerson said. “One of the things I know about the Civil Rights Movement, and a lot of the work around protests and freedoms and justice, is actually led by people your age, led by high schoolers.”

The chants led by high school students included a rendition of “Courage”, a South African anti-apartheid anthem, and other calls for Governor Baker to choose clemency for Allen.

Peg Neumann said they personally believe in the effort of granting Allen clemency due to their years of knowing him.

“He’s just an extraordinary man,” Neuman said, “He volunteered in our Companion program and worked with men with major mental illnesses. He really is a special person.”