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Flag-rant violation! Brooklyn Bridge’s American flags swapped for white flags

We surrender — not: Someone replaced the American flags atop the towers of the city’s most iconic span with white flags sometime before Tuesday morning.
The Brooklyn Paper
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There will be no white flag above our door.

Two bleached flags mysteriously took the place of the American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge’s two 276-feet towers early on Tuesday morning.

The banners waved over the city for several hours until police scaled the cables of the iconic span and removed them. One Brooklyn pol said in no uncertain terms that the borough won’t back down to pranksters, no matter what their intent.

“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing,” Borough President Adams said. “The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets. We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.”

The stealth artists responsible apparently crept up the cables on either side of the bridge, blocking the lights illuminating the flag on the Brooklyn side at 3:30 am and the Manhattan side’s at 3:42 am, according to police.

The culprits used aluminum baking pans to shroud the lights, according to deputy commissioner of counter-terrorism John Miller, speaking at a press conference inside police headquarters.

Construction workers spotted the switcheroo at 5:30 am and alerted the city, Miller said.

The anti-terror honcho said he doesn’t think the gag had any connection to politics.

“It may have been somebody’s art project,” he said.

His boss said that the Police Department is nevertheless taking the flags seriously.

“This is a matter of concern despite the motive,” police chief Bill Bratton said.

Video shows four or five people crossing the bridge as a group at around 3:10 am, plus a few more minutes later, according to Miller.

“These people are of particular interest,” he said.

Miller said the un-sanctioned flags appeared to have been bleached.

Police will conduct tests to determine where the flags came from and how they were altered, he said.

Miller speculated that the vandals may have climbing experience from working construction and said that there may have been “a good deal of pre-operation planning.”

They circumvented locked gates midway up the cable, which required special equipment and some serious guts, Miller said.

He added that, though the bridge towers are extremely visible, the Police Department is more concerned with structurally vulnerable roadway and support infrastructure.

The Brooklyn Bridge was the target of a 2002 Al Qaeda plot and former police chief Ray Kelly boasted to the New York Times in 2011 that highly visible security measures, including police cars at either end and a police boat in the East River, deterred the attack.

The measures did not faze the graffiti vandal who made a big mark on the Manhattan Bridge side of a support in 2012, though cops later arrested a suspect for the tagging, according to the New York Daily News.

Police responding to the latest visual disruption closed the bridge’s busy footpath around 11:30 am, then officers outfitted in hard hats and climbing gear ascended the cables and removed the flags around noon.

Tourists trying to take a stroll over the bridge were upset about the closure, but said they were willing to wait it out.

“We only have one day in Brooklyn, so we’re pretty disappoint­ed,” said Maren Messer, visiting with her family from Germany. “But we’ll try to see if it re-opens soon.”

The path appeared to have reopened at 1:40 pm.

Updated 9:09 pm, July 23, 2014
Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
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Reasonable discourse

James from Sunset Park says:
The NYC middle-class has surrendered.
July 22, 2014, 1:05 pm
Alyssa from Boro Park says:
Borough President Adams comes across as an idiot with no sense of humor. Talk about a drama queen. Stop giving out sound bites and start DOING something productive, Mr. Borough President.
July 22, 2014, 1:07 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I think it looks nice.

Excellent video choice.
July 22, 2014, 1:33 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
The political position of Borough President is nothing more than another layer of bureaucracy, it's really pointless. He should be asking what the NYPD was doing at the time. They were probably too busy protecting private businesses like TD Bank or BJs and needed some time off. Isn't this supposed to be a high value target? Or maybe such things are just excuses to tighten up on American freedoms? Has anyone else noticed the TSA is now in Subway stations with the NYPD?
July 22, 2014, 2:37 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
If it took the NYPD 5 min to get up there, it must have taken the "terrorist" a few minutes too. So really, NO ONE saw this guy? Clearly we don't watch the bridge (from an anti-terror perspective, I mean).

Adams is a drama queen. No one was scared by this. But you really have to wonder what the cops are doing hanging out on either side in their parked, idling cars. What would they hope to deter? Everyone just speeds right past them.
July 22, 2014, 4 pm
jay from nyc says:
Good thing these were not actual terrorists, otherwise we would have a lot of dead new yorkers and a possibly destroyed bridge. How many times can we count on luck to protect us?
Its a high value target and its watched by two empty cop cars at either end and some video cameras, which apparently no one was paying attention to. Isn't this like almost every Chuck Norris movie ever made?
This is completely inexcusable and people need to be fired for this and a top down security protocol review needs to be done and then whoever and whatever gets posted on this site after that needs to be subject to regular alert exercises and snap inspections.
If this is a high value target/asset and its not covered, then I guess only the super secret double high value targets are covered, I.E. doughnut shops and parking placards? Is this bridge really the responsibility of NYPD or is it a joint task force situation? Who is really at fault here?
July 22, 2014, 8:33 pm
Charlene Chaplin from Fort Greene says:
WGAS?! Why are there ** AMERICAN ** flags on the ** BROOKLYN ** Bridge to begin with? It's an inane, phony "patriotic" schtick that was not a "tradition" until recently-- I have 100s of 19th and 20th century photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge showing-- ta-da!-- no flags at all.

My best recollection is this became a "thing" under Rudy-- all the better to deflect from Howard Safir and Bernie Kerik, yuk yuk yuk.

Adams is a moron, a perp and an exploiter of 'the people' he pretends to represent.

P/S: there's been goofball kids climbing the BB almost weekly for DECADES, get over it.
July 22, 2014, 10:48 pm
Владим says:
Кажется за правительство омерике все уже решил народ.
July 24, 2014, 10:01 am
Алекс from Kiev says:
Это Путин виноват!!ахах
July 24, 2014, 10:04 am
Тайлер from ППЮ says:
Это правда? Путин?
July 24, 2014, 4:05 pm

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