UPDATE: The American Flags Were Removed From the Brooklyn Bridge, Replaced by White Flags

The American Flags Were Removed From the Brooklyn Bridge, Replaced by White Flags
photo via DNAinfo c/o Stephen Cooper

In our borough’s very own version of the back page of Highlights for Kids, there was something slightly different about the Brooklyn Bridge this morning that only the keenest observers could spot. Yeah, if you put two photos of the Brooklyn Bridge—one from yesterday and one from today—side-by-side, it would have taken eagle eyes to see what was different and circle it with whatever pen your mom had in her bag while you sat feverish in the pediatrician’s waiting room. But if you look closely (or not too closely, actually, because it’s a pretty big difference) you’d see it: the American flags that usually fly over the Brooklyn Bridge have been replaced by white ones.

Via DNAinfo, at some point in the last 24 hours (possibly at around 10pm, when a Gothamist commenter noted that NYPD helicopters were hovering over the Brooklyn Bridge), the normally vibrantly covered American flags flying over the Gothic arches of the city’s most famous bridge were replaced with white flags. But not just any white flags—these are actually faded American flags.  Which… must mean something, right? After all, white flags are a sign of surrender. So these flags must be a demand that… Brooklyn surrender? That Manhattan surrender? That America surrender? We don’t know! Neither, as it turns out, does the NYPD, which issued a statement saying, “We’re looking into some possible incident with the flag that’s on the bridge. We don’t know yet, we’re waiting for information from units that responded.”

And while there’s been no further activity on the bridge since the flags were replaced, it is nonetheless somewhat unsettling of a reminder that many of our most prominent landmarks (which, you know, also double as vital transportation arteries) are so vulnerable to whatever acts random pranksters—or worse—might decide to perform. We’ll keep you updated if we learn more about who replaced the flags, and why.

Update: A parody twitter account, the Bicycle Lobby, tricked the New York Daily News and the AP into thinking that they had raised the white flags themselves in order to signal that pedestrians surrender to cyclists. But don’t be too hard on these stalwart news organizations, as the Bicycle Lobby itself notes, “we don’t reveal we’re a parody account till the second line of our profile.”

Also, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will apparently “announce reward for flying a white flag atop Brooklyn Bridge” which we THINK means that he will pay a reward for information? Because Adams is quite upset about the flag incident, and has already tweeted that if flying a white flag is someone’s idea of a joke, he is NOT laughing.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


  1. This is the most ridiculous event. The city feigns ignorance when they know full well who is responsible for placing the flags up there. The bridge has a security detail 24/7. Last winter a friend of mine was taking pictures at 4:00 AM and out of know where four cops arrived to question him. There are security cameras all over the place and all they have to do is watch the video and see who it is? This is a psyop!

  2. More power to them. I feel like posting a white flag of peace of my own with all these ridiculous wars and all this senseless violence going on around the world.


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