New York City woke up to a strange sight Tuesday morning when travelers observed two white flags, typically symbolizing surrender, flying over the Brooklyn Bridge, where American flags usually fly. Upon closer inspection, authorities found that the flags had been dyed white, the lights shining on them covered with aluminum pans.
According to The Wall Street Journal, police have determined that the flags appeared there around 3 a.m. Tuesday and that multiple individuals were involved in the stunt. In addition to the white flags, the lights aiming at the flags were shut off, possibly to mask the identities of those involved, or perhaps to make the stunt invisible until morning arrived.
Authorities are severely displeased with the stunt, the purpose of which is yet to be discovered. John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence, described the flags as “a statement of some sort,” with “no particular nexus” to terrorism or politics that they are aware of as of now. Miller noted, according to Gothamist, that the police believe there is a possibility of an “insider” group having pulled the stunt, as there appears to be meticulous planning behind the affair, and only someone with construction experience or experience working on the Brooklyn Bridge itself would have been able to climb up and change the flags.
Gothamist also notes that two individuals on Instagram appeared to initially take credit for the stunt: users going by the names LastSuspect and Matt Doscher. The latter told Gothamist that the Instragrams were “a joke” and that he and his friends had “obviously not climbed the Brooklyn Bridge.” Miller, at least, appeared to agree at Tuesday’s press conference, noting that there had been no “credible” admissions of guilt.
Surveillance video that has since surfaced appears to put the number of conspirators at four or five. While the video is not clear, the lights can be seen indefinitely going out at around 3 a.m.
The New York Post is now reporting that the NYPD believes it is possible that two different teams of individuals worked together to evade law enforcement. The Post notes that the likely scenario is that “the four or five intruders, possibly working in two teams, went completely unnoticed by cops in the four patrol cars assigned to the bridge and nimbly climbed hundreds of feet on narrow main suspension cables,” according to police sources. One source told the Post the incident was “an embarrassment” and that the police were “lucky” the intruders only chose to replace the flags, and not bomb the bridge.