One of these proposals was to disband the Municipal Police Department, in which Wood's supporters had a controlling interest, and replace it with a state-run Metropolitan Police Department.Wood refused to disband his Municipal Department, and so for the first half of 1857, the two rival departments battled it out on the streets of the city until the courts ordered the Municipals to disband that July.On July 4 a bloody fight, the Dead Rabbits Riot, occurred with the Metropolitan Police and the Bowery gangs against the Municipal Police, Mulberry Street Boys, Roach Guard, and Dead Rabbits in Bayard Street.
These two rival gangs fought over 200 gang battles in a span of 10 years beginning in 1834, and they often outmanned the police force and even the state militias.
They were also in the forefront of the Dead Rabbits Riot and the New York Draft Riots.
Besides street-fighting, the Dead Rabbits also supported politicians such as Fernando Wood and the Tammany Hall whose platforms included the welfare and benefit of immigrant groups and minorities, and under the leadership of Isaiah Rynders the gang also acted as enforcers to violently persuade voters during elections to vote for their candidates.
One of the Dead Rabbit leader, John Morrissey, would later become a Democratic State Senator and U. Congressman who alleviated the conditions of the Irish-American communities for years to come.
New York's Democrats were divided into two camps, those who supported Mayor Fernando Wood, and those who opposed him.
The Bowery gangs were one of the latter while the Dead Rabbits were supporters of Wood.
Thus the Bowery Boys threw their support in league with state Republicans who proposed legislation that would strip Wood of certain powers and place them in the hands of Albany.
The Dead Rabbits was the media-bestowed name of an Irish American gang in New York City in the 1850s.
They called themselves the Roach Guards and were also known as the Black Birds.