Dead Rabbits

The Dead Rabbits were a gang in New York City in the 1850s, and originally were a part of the Roach Guards. They were also known as the Black Birds.

The gang achieved great renown for its organization and prowess as thieves and thugs. The fighting uniform of the Roach Guards was a blue stripe on their pantaloons, while the Dead Rabbits adopted a red stripe. In riots their emblem was a dead rabbit impaled on a spike. The Rabbits and the Guards swore undying enmity and constantly fought each other at the Five Points, but in the rows with the water-front and Bowery Boys they made common cause against the enemy, as did other Five Points gangs including the Shirt Tails and Chichesters. The gang was later led by Irish American Aidan Bourke, also known as "Black Dog" possibly due to a ruthless nature similar to that of the ghost dog in the folklores of the Celtic and British Isles.

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 proponents 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. 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.

There was a similar gang in Liverpool, England in the late 19th century also known as 'The Dead Rabbits'.

The story of the New York Dead Rabbits is told, in highly fictionalized form, in Martin Scorsese's film Gangs of New York. The film's inspiration came from an essay by Herbert Asbury titled Gangs of New York.

Other articles related to "dead rabbits, rabbits, dead rabbit":

Dead Rabbits Riot - Events
4, 1857, while the rest of New York was celebrating Independence Day, members of the Dead Rabbits led a coalition of street gangs from the Five Points, with exception of the Roach ... Now the Rabbits would make a combined rush and force their antagonists up Bayard street to the Bowery ... of women from the Five Points who had provoked the Dead Rabbits into attacking the Bowery gangs ...
Dead Rabbits Riot - Aftermath
... Many of the Five Points gangs, most notably the Dead Rabbits, resented the implications made by police and newspapers that they had been committing criminal acts ... We are requested by the Dead Rabbits to state that the Dead Rabbit club members are not thieves, that they did not participate in the riot with the Bowery Boys, and that the fight on Mulberry street was between ... The Dead Rabbits are sensitive on points of Honor, we are assured, and wouldn't allow a thief to live on their beat, much less be a member of their club ” ...
Gangs Of New York - Historical Accuracy
... Asbury's book described the Bowery Boys, Plug Uglies, Shirt Tails, and the Dead Rabbits ... last were so named after their battle standard, a dead rabbit on a pike ... A path was established among the Dead Rabbits, the Plug Uglies, the Bowery Boys that continues all the way to today’s Latin Kings, Crips and Bloods ...

Famous quotes containing the words rabbits and/or dead:

    One has but to observe a community of beavers at work in a stream to understand the loss in his sagacity, balance, co-operation, competence, and purpose which Man has suffered since he rose up on his hind legs.... He began to chatter and he developed Reason, Thought, and Imagination, qualities which would get the smartest group of rabbits or orioles in the world into inextricable trouble overnight.
    James Thurber (1894–1961)

    Does anyone remember?
    Everyone still alive. And some dead ones.
    David Wagoner (b. 1926)