NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The NYPD has negotiated with the attorneys for the German artists who claim to have swapped the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge, in order to get the American flags back, police sources told CBS 2.
The flags will be turned over to the American embassy in Germany, and will then be returned to the NYPD, police sources said.
The process was in the works Thursday night, but the flags had yet to arrive physically in the hands of the NYPD, sources said.
Police sources told CBS 2 the department had confirmed the authenticity of the flags being returned by the artists by their unusually large size, and the manufacturer’s label attached.
Artists Mischa Leinkauf and Mattias Wermke said they replaced the American flags onto the 131-year-old bridge’s towers with hand-sewn white flags early on July 22 as a celebration of public art in “the global center of creativity.”
Leinkauf and Wermke said that they switched the flags early on July 22 to commemorate the 145th anniversary of German-born Brooklyn Bridge architect John August Roebling’s death.
They said they followed U.S. Flag Code in their handling of the American flags they removed and were returning them, but they have not said how or when.
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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