Overnight, someone climbed to the top of both the Brooklyn Bridge's two 273-foot towers. A terrifying feat on its own, the culprit(s) decided to stick around and paint the American flags atop the iconic structure white.
Police have no idea who the climbers/painters were, nor how they might have gotten up there. The bridge is considered a high-profile terrorism target, so it is under constant security. Except for last night, obviously.
According to officials, the American flags are hung by specially trained workers in the Department of Transportation. The flags are fastened with steel clips and only taken down when they need to be repaired due to wear or bad weather.
To change them, a pair of workers attached to a tether walk along a quarter mile of cable to the ladder atop the tower. The cable is about a foot in diameter. Then, the workers climb onto the flag platform. There is no way to actually lower the flags (this is to prevent vandals, but what good did that do?) so the workers always have to climb the flag platform.
At the least police are folding up the Brooklyn Bridge white surrender flag in a respectful manner. pic.twitter.com/ltn6dydIkd— Kevin Depew (@kevindepew) July 22, 2014
While that seems like a pretty difficult process, and certainly a terrifying one, these people (or person) managed to climb up there, while holding paint and a brush, change the flag, and mosey back down unscathed.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announced an award for any information about the mysterious flags.
"If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets," Adams said, according to Business Insider. "We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time. Political and social expression, whatever its message may be, has a place in our society, but not at the expense of others’ security. I am confident in the NYPD’s ability to investigate this matter."
Workers started changing the flags back around 11 A.M. today, and the N.Y.P.D. confirmed there were no bombs or notes left on the painted flags. Someone just wanted to left New York know that Brooklyn (or Manhattan?) had given up.
Update 5:19 PM:
At a press conference, John Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence of the NYPD, said "We don't take these things lightly. Or as a joke. Or as art. We're concerned and we're not happy.
Miller then lightened the mood, joking "Betsy Ross' long lost nephew could have done it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.