Days before the NY Times broke news that two German artists have claimed responsibility for planting white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge last month, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton declared in a television interview: "We think we have a very good idea of who’s responsible." But if the Germans were anywhere on the NYPD's radar, the NYPD has yet to say so.
The official statement from the NYPD yesterday was, "The NYPD is aware of the public statements made by the German artists... in regard to the Brooklyn Bridge flag case. The investigation is continuing." And a comment from one anonymous law enforcement source suggests this German connection was news to them. "This looks pretty legit... It’s a very credible lead," the source told the NY Post after reviewing video obtained by the Times. "I can’t say with 100 percent certainty these two guys did it... [Cops] need more evidence to bring them back to the states."
The NYPD had previously said that it was probably an "inside job" involving someone from the DOT or another city agency with access to the bridge. Then they said they were searching for persons of interest spotted on the bridge around the time the flags were planted, and one of the individuals was seen carrying a skateboard. And investigators said they recovered DNA from one of the aluminum pans used to cover up the lights on the towers, but an extensive search of the NYPD's database turned up no matches.
At the very least, it appears the Manhattan DA's office was grasping at straws—last week they subpoenaed a parody Twitter account, @BikeLobby, which had facetiously claimed to be responsible for the stunt. The DA's office has declined to comment on the, uh, investigation.
"We are still looking at the totality of who may have been involved in this incident," NYPD spokesman Stephen P. Davis tells the Times. "At a minimum, it’s trespass, but there is a possibility you could charge burglary. If you go into a fenced-in area for the purpose of committing a crime, that legally constitutes a burglary. And keep in mind they stole the flags."
But at least the Germans in question, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, folded them up ceremoniously? Also, they say they plan to return them. The NYPD says they'd be happy to have the flags back, and we're guessing they'd be eager to personally welcome the Germans back to New York.