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Funeral held for founder of the Conservative Vice Lords

Mourners pay their respects casket Bobby Gore co-founder Conservative Vice Lords Stone Temple Baptist Church Chicago Ill. Tuesday February 19

Mourners pay their respects at the casket of Bobby Gore, co-founder of the Conservative Vice Lords, at Stone Temple Baptist Church in Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 21, 2013 6:48AM

About 50 drivers caravanned through the streets of the West Side for about 45 minutes on Tuesday — honking their horns as chilly bystanders waved — in honor of a former street gang leader.

Fred “Bobby” Gore, 76, a founder of the Conservative Vice Lords, died of natural causes at his home in south suburban Markham on Feb. 12.

Gore was known as the official spokesman for the gang in the 1960s.

He and other leaders of the gang were in the news then for marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and for getting money from the Rockefeller Foundation for community projects.

“He was trying to keep the drugs and things from coming into the neighborhood,” said a cousin, Lionel Gore.

But Bobby Gore didn’t last long as the gang’s spokesman.

He was arrested for murder in 1969 — and was convicted.

At the time, his lawyer Patrick Murphy suggested Gore was railroaded. He was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times as saying “some people were out to get Gore” because of his gang activities.

Gore was released from State-ville Correctional Center in Joliet in 1979. In prison, Gore completed high school and college.

Murphy, who had been appointed Cook County’s public guardian by then, hired Gore to visit elderly wards of the state at nursing homes.

“If Bobby was there, they were getting the proper care,” Murphy said.

Later, Murphy arranged for Gore to work at the Safer Foundation helping other ex-offenders.

Murphy, who is now a Cook County judge, wouldn’t discuss Gore’s murder case. But he would talk about Gore’s life after prison.

“I think he was a very decent guy who tried to help younger guys in the community,” he said. “He led a phenomenal life in the 30 years after he was out of prison.”

Law enforcement officials said they didn’t know of Gore being involved in the gang’s criminal activity since his release from prison.

And there wasn’t a heavy police presence outside Gore’s wake — as there has been for other aging gang leaders such as Jerome “King Shorty” Freeman, the Black Disciples leader who died last year.

Asked about Gore’s role in the gang in the 1960s, one police source acknowledged the Conservative Vice Lords vowed to “do positive things for the West Side” at the time.

But the gang misspent the money it received to do community projects then, the source noted.

“Of course, now, and in recent memory, they are nothing but a criminal organization.”

Lionel Gore said his cousin continued to return to Lawndale to push for revitalization of the beleaguered neighborhood — and push against drug-dealing and criminality — even though he was living in the south suburbs.

“That was his battle, building 16th Street back up to respectability,” he said. “A lot of the old-timers were with him. The young ones was selling the drugs. And some tried to take him out. There was a battle within the group. But he kept coming back to see things through.”

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