crimesider

Brooklyn Bridge flags back on U.S. soil, police say

NEW YORK -- Police say the two American flags swiped from the Brooklyn Bridge and replaced with white ones are back on U.S. soil.

NYPD spokesman Sgt. Carlos Nieves said Friday that the flags are in the United States. He did not know their exact location.

Two German artists claimed responsibility earlier this month for the July 22 stunt.

Berlin-based Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke said they replaced the flags on top of the bridge with bleached-out versions as a tribute to public art.

They also said they switched the flags on July 22 to commemorate the 145th anniversary of German-born Brooklyn Bridge architect John August Roebling's death.

They confirmed in an email Friday that the flags have been returned to U.S. officials.

The flag switch raised questions about security on the bridge.

The day the flags went up, NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller, the department's counterterrorism and intelligence chief, said he believed four or five people scaled to the top of the bridge's towers and swapped the flags in the dead of night.

Miller said the people involved appeared to use aluminum cooking sheets to cover the lamps illuminating the American flags that usually fly there before hoisting the white replacements.

Video footage of the security breach shows the people walking on the bridge's footpath at about 3:10 a.m. and the light on the bridge's Brooklyn tower flickers and goes dark about 20 minutes later, Miller said.

The same thing happens about 12 minutes later on the Manhattan tower, he said.

Leinkauf and Wermke have scaled buildings, bridges and statues in a series of projects blurring the line of access to public works and spaces.

In 2007, according to their website, they tied balloons to cables high above the Brooklyn Bridge roadway.

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