Former Conservative Vice Lords leader
Fred "Bobby" Gore spoke about his experiences with the gang,
before and after his incarceration, in the Illinois Room Tuesday, March
Gore was found guilty of murder in December 1969, and was sentenced 25
to 40 years in prison. After serving 11 years at Stateville Penitentiary,
he was released and immediately began a campaign for clemency, claiming
he did not murder 23 year-old Thurman Williams.
"I ended up getting convicted of a murder that I didn't commit,"
Gore was neatly dressed and wore a traditional African hat, expressing
cultural pride, something he asserts the Vice Lords tried to foster during
his reign as spokesman.
Gore pointed the finger at Chicago's criminal justice system for purportedly
allowing corrupt practices to take place under the Richard J. Daley administration.
"Cops would shoot guys and say someone else did it," he said.
He characterized the modern gang structure as frightening, claiming
that things have changed drastically since his days.
The lecture included the presentation of a History Channel documentary
outlining the Conservative Vice Lords' failed transition from
street gang to political and community organization. The documentary,
like much of the lecture, expressed that the Conservative Vice
Lords' progress was hindered immediately after Bobby Gore's imprisonment.
photograph by John Hagedorn
Judge Patrick Murphy, Gore's lawyer in 1969, was not allowed
to discuss certain details of the case, but asserted "Bobby Gore
Murphy claims that many aspects of Gore's trial were biased resulting
in a wrongful conviction. "Blacks were kicked off the jury box,"
Robert Warden, executive director of the Northwestern University Wrongful
Conviction Center and the attorney for Gore's clemency case, puts much
of the blame on the administration of the 1969 murder trial.
"Erroneous eyewitness identifications are the largest single cause
of wrongful conviction in the United States. It is inherently unreliable,"
Warden said, emphasizing what he believes is one of the main reasons for
Gore's conviction. Warden also said that details from the original murder
trial are missing. "The system has lost the trial transcript... but
we are close to recovering it," he said.
Warden, nevertheless, is optimistic about the case and confident that
justice will prevail. "It's our promise to Bobby, and it's our promise
to you," he concluded.
When asked how families can deter the influence of street gangs on modern
society, Gore simply said, "Family foundation is first priority."
Gore was accompanied by his wife and children, who still reside in the
Lawndale area, the former capital of the Conservative Vice Lords regime.