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Head of One Fund payouts lauds ‘collective empathy’

Session looks at response to bombing, loss

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the One Fund Boston Compensation Program, spoke at a forum at Boston University.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the One Fund Boston Compensation Program, spoke at a forum at Boston University.

Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the distribution of more than $60 million to Boston Marathon bombing victims, said the outpouring was a testament to a remarkable “collective empathy” for those in need. Edward F. Davis, police commissioner during the bombings, backed the decision to release photographs of the suspects, saying the public had a “right to defend themselves.”

And survivor David Fortier recalled how first responders and spectators rushed to help the wounded in the moments after the attacks, and how he and other survivors have come to be like a family.

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“There’s evil in the world,” said Fortier. “But there’s much more good.”

As the anniversary of the bombing nears, political leaders, health and law enforcement officials, and survivors gathered at a Boston University conference Monday for a wide-ranging and often personal discussion about the response in the days and months following the attacks. They spoke of how the initial shock of the bombing gave way to a determined resolve to help the victims and comfort a shaken city.

Feinberg said the One Fund “demonstrated the resilience of the city” and provided a potential blueprint for future compensation funds.

By establishing a single fund and widely publicizing it, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Governor Deval Patrick created a clear, simple way for people to support the victims, he said. Public meetings were also held to discuss the protocol for handing out the money, making the process transparent.

“Total sunlight,” he said. “Let nobody say they didn’t know what we were going to do with the money.”

Feinberg said the One Fund raised far more money than similar compensation funds and that getting the money to victims quickly was a priority.

“It’s rough justice,” he said.

Patrick defended his decision to ask the public to “shelter in place,” during the search for bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, recalling that several alarming reports and rumors had surfaced.

“There was a whole lot more going on [than just a search in Watertown], and a lot of it was worrisome,’’ Patrick said.

Patrick said that he never ordered the public to stay at home.

“We asked,” he said. “Frankly, it was an amazing thing and a helpful thing that people on the whole complied.’’

When the suspect was captured in a Watertown backyard some 12 hours later, Patrick applauded officers’ measured response.

“When the order was given to hold their fire, they held their fire,” he said. “The restraint of law enforcement under those circumstances was a thing to behold.’’

Patrick described the “extraordinary and consistent acts of grace” that emerged in response to the bombings, a time when people often turn to their darker side.

“What we did was turn to each other, rather than on each other,’’ Patrick said at the conference, titled “Leading Cities Through Crisis: Lessons from the Boston Marathon.”

Menino is codirector of BU’s newly founded Initiative on Cities, which focuses on urban issues.

Davis, pointing to a report by “60 Minutes” Sunday that described how the FBI identified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev through video footage, said he had urged federal authorities to release photographs of the two alleged bombers.

“I knew we had information that was vital to my police officers on the street,” he said. “I wanted it out to protect my officers.”

In a panel discussion about the challenges businesses faced after the attack, Chris Jamison, the owner of Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, recalled the uncertainty of when it would reopen. The establishment, near the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston streets, was closed for many days after the bombing.

“It was just completely up in the air at that point,” he said. Without an income, employees were struggling to pay their bills, and the restaurant took out a short-term loan to offset lost revenue, he said.

Karen Rand, who lost her lower left leg in the bombing, praised the quality of her medical care, first at Massachusetts General Hospital, then at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Her friend Krystle Campbell was killed in the attacks.

“I think I had the most exceptional care,” she said. “I knew if I needed something, there were people already there.”

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.
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