I look over the Brooklyn Bridge nearly every day on my commute into the city, but somehow I failed to notice this amazing stunt in person. Yesterday two white flags went up on the Brooklyn Bridge in place of the American flags that usually fly there. No violent acts were committed, just this strange swap -- like something out of a movie. The bridge is guarded by police cars, surveillance cameras, and even a police boat in the waters below. Police still don't know who pulled it off or why. It's definitely made people feel uneasy.
Here's what we know so far. At 3:30 in the morning, the bridge lights that shine on the flags flickered and then went out. A span of 13 minutes went by, and then the lights went back on -- but this time they illuminated the white flags instead. Police later found large aluminum tins had been tied over the lights. Even stranger, they discovered that the American flags had actually been bleached and re-hung.
Whoever did this must have planned it out with precision. The gates to the bridge were still up and locked when Emergency Services arrived, so the perpetrators must have found a way around the gates and then climbed up the towers -- with the precisely-sized light covers and the bleach.
Police say surveillance video shows four or five individuals walking onto the bridge at about 3 a.m. They are now considered persons of interest.
"At this time there is no sign of any particular nexus to terrorism or even politics," says NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who oversees intelligence and counter-terrorism. "It could be someone's art project or a statement, but it's not clear what that statement is." A white flag is traditionally used to signal surrender in a conflict.
Incidentally, Mayor de Blasio is on vacation in Italy with his family. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams says if it's a prank, "I'm not laughing." He's offered a $5,000 reward from his own pocket for information about the suspects.
I think what's creepiest about this stunt is how mysterious it is. No one can figure out if it's a political statement or a prank for its own sake. What does it mean?!? And what do the people who pulled it off want? Is it a warning that security on our bridges is too lax? Should we be worried that a handful of people were able to sneak onto the bridge at night and make such a dramatic gesture? Is Manhattan finally surrendering to Brooklyn?
What do you think the mysterious white flags stunt is about?
Image via Anderson/Splash News