German Artists Take Credit For Placing Mysterious White Flags Atop The Brooklyn Bridge

Police have been stumped by the white flags that replaced American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge on July 22, but now German artists have taken credit for the act, saying it was an “art project.”

1. UPDATE — Aug. 12, 9:15 p.m. ET: German artists took credit Tuesday for switching American flags for white ones atop the Brooklyn Bridge last month, CNN reported.

Artists Matthias Wermke and Mischa Leinkauf said the swap of American flags for white ones was an “art project,” which was meant to raise “questions of historical legacy and art in the public sphere.”

The artists submitted a video to the New York Times of the white flags on top the tower as evidence.

2. Cops told CNN they are taking the claims seriously, as the artists video appears legitimate.


The police were stumped on who had placed the flags atop the bridge, but after looking into the possibility of terrorism, had decided it was possibly an “art project or a statement.”

3. The artists called the project “White American Flags” and said in a statement:

“They were careful to treat the bridge and the flags with respect and followed the U.S. Flag Code. The return of the original flags is in progress. Like an empty canvas, White American Flags invites many readings, multiple interpretations and projections.”

The statement also said the flags were meant as a tribute German-born American architect John August Roebling, who had built the bridge. He left Germany in 1831 “in search of a better future in the land of freedom and opportunity,” the artists’ statement said.

The artists have done other projects in very high places all around the world. They also cited Gordon Matta-Clark, who climbed the Clocktower Building in Lower Manhattan in 1974, as inspiration for this piece.

4. White flags were spotted flying atop the Brooklyn Bridge on Tuesday morning, Gothamist reported. It’s pretty bizarre.

Gothamist / Via Twitter: @Gothamist

5. Normally, a couple of American flags are perched on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Gothamist / Via gothamist.com

6. Upon closer inspection, the flags appear to be American flags that were painted or dyed white.

10 News

7. NYPD removed the flags Tuesday morning and found that the two American flags had been apparently bleached and large aluminum tins had been placed over the lights that illuminate the flags.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @CurtisKalin

8. NYPD officials did not reveal any suspects or leads in the case of the white flags on Tuesday.


Police investigators said that video shows four or five people walking on the bridge just after 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

“I’m not particularly happy about the event,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

“At this time there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who also oversees intelligence and counter terrorism. “It could be someone’s art project or a statement, but it’s not clear what that statement is.”

#NYPD scaling the Brooklyn Bridge to remove white flag.

— jupadhye (@Janet Upadhye)

The cops are totally taking selfies with the white flag on top of the Brooklyn Bridge

— andyjayhawk (@Andrew J. Hawkins)

14. Parody Twitter account @BicycleLobby joked earlier that they were responsible for the white flags.

Earlier today we hoisted two white flags to signal our complete surrender of the Brooklyn Bridge bicycle path to pedestrians.

— BicycleLobby (@Bike Lobby)

15. The New York Daily News didn’t get the joke.

A pair of high-flying American flags was swiped from atop the Brooklyn Bridge and replaced Tuesday with two white flags — with a pro-bicycling group taking responsibility.

The substitute banners were flying by sunrise from atop the 273-foot towers on the venerable bridge despite the round-the-clock NYPD security on the span.

“Earlier today we hoisted two white flags to signal our complete surrender of the Brooklyn Bridge bicycle path to pedestrians,” said a tweet from the Bicycle Lobby.

Stop us if you've heard this one before. How many Daily News reporters does it take to not fact-check a story?

— BicycleLobby (@Bike Lobby)

We implore "journalists" asking for comment to A) read our profile B) read more than one of our tweets and C) Google "Dorothy Rabinowitz."

— BicycleLobby (@Bike Lobby)

If you believe we're for real, we have a bridge in Brooklyn we'd like to sell you.

— BicycleLobby (@Bike Lobby)

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