June 25, 2021
BROCKTON — A black bench with red trim now sits in the plaza outside Brockton City Hall.
The Survivors' Bench carries a plaque "in memory of loves ones, victims of homicide whose lives we honor here."
"They are forever dear to us," the commemorative plaque concludes.
The bench is the work of the South Shore Resource and Advocacy Center's S.H.A.R.E.S program — Surviving Homicide's Aftermath — Resources, Education and Support.
The group approached late Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter a few years ago about dedicating a bench outside City Hall to Brockton-area homicide victims. Carpenter gave his support and Brockton's Superintendent of Parks Timothy Carpenter provided the group with a bench that could be refurbished.
Members of the S.H.A.R.E.S program painted the bench during a group paint night prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to unveil it outside City Hall were put on hold when the pandemic emerged.
With COVID-19 restrictions lifted and Massachusetts reopening, the ceremony was finally held Wednesday afternoon outside City Hall.
"We have a beautiful product here today," said Karen Fabrizio, program coordinator for S.H.A.R.E.S. "It's for people to come here collaboratively, for vigils, for just some peace for yourself and a place where victims of homicide and survivors can come and just have a little place of their own with a little integrity, a little silence and a little peace."
The program's Rev. Bill McCoy said S.H.A.R.E.S provides resources to family and friends of homicide victims in Bristol and Plymouth counties.
One local resident who has received support from the program is Shannon Tangherlini, whose son, Matthew Tangherlini, was fatally shot in the city on Oct. 5, 2015, at the age of 27.
Tangherlini applied for and received a grant from the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute to make the bench possible.
"As survivors, we wanted to provide a memorial site to honor our loved ones," Tangherlini said. "The bench here, I'm hoping, will provide a special meeting place for families and others who have experienced similar types of trauma. I think it's important to have our loved one's lives recognized."
Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan also gave his blessing for the bench outside City Hall and credited the members of S.H.A.R.E.S for not letting the project fall to the wayside, but remaining dedicated to it even after Carpenter's death.
"I, as mayor, and as a dad of three kids, I've never felt the pain that some of you have felt. But I recognize and get prayers every single day from Sharon Baker," said Sullivan, referring to a Brockton woman who started a support group for those who have lost loved ones after her son, Tyrelle Baker, was fatally shot in 2012. "She sends me a text every morning with a prayer. And I just want to say that we must always remember what happened and always reflect on how we need to make change here in the City of Champions and in the commonwealth and in the nation. We need to cut down on homicides. We just need to do that. We need to be able to embrace and love."
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz called the bench a worthwhile memorial for people whose lives were taken.
"I'm glad that when I go around on my walks now, I'll be able to see the bench and it will remind me just a little bit about the cases that we have, the people that we deal with, the challenges that we face and the work that we have to do to bring peace to everybody," Cruz said. "Peace is attainable. It's attainable by groups like this that are working hard together."
Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes said he's witnessed many "terrible tragedies," referring to murders, during his 35-year career.
"Every one of these incidents has touched me and they've changed me," he said.
Enterprise senior reporter Cody Shepard can be reached by email.