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Brooklyn Bridge white flag mystery possibly solved

"From our Berlin background, we were a little surprised that it got the reaction it did. We really didn't intend to embarrass the police," said Leinkauf.
By Aileen Graef   |   Aug. 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Two German artists, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, are claiming responsibility for replacing the American flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge with all white ones.

The stunt, which was noticed at the end of July, caused a bit of a hysteria in New York with some people speculating the swap was a terrorist threat.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he is "not laughing" about the incident. The NYPD doggedly chased the suspects by subpoenaing Twitter for access to parody accounts and testing the bridge for DNA.

Leinkauf and Wermke told the New York Times the flag swap was not an "anti-American statement." They scaled the structure as part of an art exhibition honoring the German designer of the bridge, John Roebling, on the anniversary of his death.

"We saw the bridge, which was designed by a German, trained in Berlin, who came to America because it was the place to fulfill his dreams, as the most beautiful expression of a great public space," Leinkauf told the Times. "That beauty was what we were trying to capture."

It has not been confirmed whether they are telling the truth, but their website suggests they would have the capability based on photos from other projects.

"From our Berlin background, we were a little surprised that it got the reaction it did. We really didn't intend to embarrass the police," said Leinkauf.

The NYPD said it will be happy to welcome the two artists back to the city and show them all the American justice system has to offer.

"If they want to come in and speak with us, we certainly would be more than happy to entertain them," said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis on Tuesday.

Leinkauf and Wermke said they always come forward in regards to their work, they just wait to gauge the reaction. They said they plan to turn themselves in, but are currently seeking legal advice. They also said they will return the flags, which they insisted were properly folded according to the United States Flag code.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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