White flags that replaced American flags at Brooklyn Bridge taken down

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Marci Gonzalez reports on the NYPD investigation. (WABC)

Investigators are watching social media and looking for a group of people they say swapped out two large American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge with bleached flags on Tuesday.

John Miller, deputy commissioner of intelligence of the NYPD, said surveillance video shows a group of five people crossing the bridge around 3:10 a.m. At 3:30, the light that illuminates the American flag on the Brooklyn tower went out. About 15 minutes later, the light went out on the Manhattan tower. By dawn, construction workers noticed the American flags had been replaced by white flags.

The New York City Police Department removed the white flags just before noon from poles on the stone supports that hold cables above the bridge. Miller said it appeared the 20 foot by 11 foot flags were bleached American flags. There were faint traces of stars and stripes on them. Police also found what appeared to be large aluminum pans that had been affixed as covers, secured with zip ties.

Miller said whoever did it appeared to have some climbing experience and possibly had done bridge work, perhaps even on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"At this time no nexis to terrorism or politics. This could be someone's art project or someone's statement. We're just not clear what that statement is," Miller said.


"Whatever the motive was, it is a matter of concern. I'm not particularly happy about the event," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said pointedly.

Officers in patrol cars are stationed at both ends of the bridge, which is constantly monitored by surveillance cameras.

More than 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, according to the city's Department of Transportation, which maintains the bridge.

The flags fly from above the pillars year-round and are replaced by DOT workers when they become frayed, police said. They are lit from the bottom by a lamp at the base of each tower at night.
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