White Flags, No Surrender

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A mysterious white flag flies above the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday morning (Peggy Willens/WNYC)

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President, is offering a $5,000 reward for information about who hung white flags in place of the usual U.S. flags over the Brooklyn Bridge. He's called the placement of the flags a "terrorist act."


Eric Adams

Comments [52]

stephen from NYC

Right, make it a felony. That makes sense. Put people in jail for trespassing on a bridge. That makes a lot of sense. Great for taxpayers too. Incredible. Calling this terrorism is such an extreme overreaction.

Jul. 24 2014 11:36 AM
Olafur from Financial district.

Here on my home-turf financial district, I have had an FBI agent point a loaded machine gun at me for absolutely no reason. I wasn't even expressing an opinion. I consider that a serious matter! A couple years prior, during 911, I was in my work space a mere 1000 feet away from the WTC, two airplane crashes, tower collapses and people falling. Absolute horror that we all know about. I couldn't see out my windows. I evacuated through heavy dust that was so dense I could just about make out the sidewalk I walked on. Let me tell you this: Most of this today's downtown Big Brother security would have done nothing to save that day. And my gut feeling is that it won't if (god forbid) there will be another catastrophic event.

That is because to many people are talking to much rubbish left and right. I just shudder at people making personal, political or money gains out of the very real terrorist act of 911. And it is sad when people can not keep things in perspective.

This flag-prank was not complicated. The bridge has obvious and necessary maintenance access to the top and elsewhere. Any of the thousands of daily bridge-commuters can see these in plain sight. I have a feeling this prank was really very simple in comparison to Philippe Petit. Who was not a terrorist either. The difference is that the white flags joke have exposed the emperors new clothes. The security business is somewhat like an expensive acting career program that for the most part just throws hurdles at regular folks or points guns at innocents.

There are serious issues at hand. Get a new borough president. And new flags while you're at it.

Jul. 24 2014 07:36 AM

As I told a screener on the show this morning, I wonder if the bleached flags are related to the performance by the punk political protest group Anti-Flag at the Pete Seeger memorial concert at Central Park Summerstage on Monday evening, 7/21.

Jul. 24 2014 01:05 AM

Good lord, this guy is an embarrassment. What an idiot.

Jul. 23 2014 02:57 PM
G II from NYC

...Come to think of it
THANK YOU flag painter, whoever you are, for exposing the weakness of the NYPD. TY for showing us just how vulnerable we are, still, after 9-11.
How grossly bloated and ineffective the NYPD is. After all the riot gear, the use of excessive force on Occupy protesters, the multitudes of security cameras on every city block, the confiscation of personal cameras, the Muslim population surveillance...they allow this to happen.

Those officers who were on duty that night should all be asked to leave the force - what were they doing while this was happening?! What a farce of a police force.
They know how to put unarmed black men into "head-holds" that result in obstructed breathing and "I can't breathe" statements - but don't know how to secure a major artery into the biggest borough in NYC.

Such a blatant and severe security hazard went on under their noses - so to speak. It's laughable, it's a scene out of a movie. Where is the borough president's outrage at the cops who were asleep on the job?

We need to thank this painter - s/he is no "terrorist" the real "terrorizers" of this city are the NYPD. I'm afraid of them - no joke, they'll use whatever force they deem necessary to "serve and protect."

Jul. 23 2014 01:40 PM
Paul from UWS

These comments are restoring my faith in the citizens of this City.

They should be printed out and stapled to Mr. Adams' desk for future reference.

Jul. 23 2014 12:10 PM
Amy from Manhattan

"Desecrating"? The flag is not a religious object, & treating it as one equals treating dissent as heresy. I'm not in favor of flag-burning, but it is protected as free speech, & the principles the US flag stands for are more important than the symbol.

Jul. 23 2014 11:52 AM
Steve from upper west side

An act of "terrorism", Mr. Adams??? PULEEEZE... get a grip. There's so much going on in this world that does rise to the horrible level of terrorism, and it's serious, Mr. Adams -- people are dying. Terrorism is serious, and when you cheapen it by using this term flippantly where it's obviously got no place, you dishonor those who have truly suffered from it You need to stop your fear-mongering and grandstanding -- this is as far from terrorism as a paper cut is to major hemorrhage.

Jul. 23 2014 11:51 AM
ismael ramirez from dumbo bridge commuter

I'ld like to speak to the general lack of Police presence and security on the Brooklyn Bridge. It is on of our biggest landmarks and tourist attractions with thousands of pedestrians, and the Police let buskers (illegally) run seemingly undisturbed.

Jul. 23 2014 11:50 AM
Jacob from Manhattan

Mr. Adams has moved from being absurd to being insulting. He's not the only person in NY who was here during 9/11. A lot of us, about 8 million people in fact, were here and lived through that day. How dare he claim to have the monopoly on defining "terrorism". On that day 13 years ago I learned what real terrorism looks like. A white flag on a bridge is not it.

The use of the term Terrorism against whomever placed that flag is an extreme overreaction that has significant Federal implications.

It was certainly criminal mischief but not an act of Terror. If Mr. Adams was terrorized by the act he has some other issues and he should probably seek the help of a professional. Perhaps he should surrender?

Jul. 23 2014 11:49 AM
crm from nj

i'm so annoyed by this guy (bbp)blabbing on and on... but then, i don't live in brooklyn, and i didn't vote for him.

wtf is he talking about "desecrating the flag"? it's a white flag he's just spewing catch-phrases...

he wants to punish the person who put the flag up there? why doesn't he want to punish the person who was supposed to be protecting the bridge? whose job is it to protect the bridge? because it seems they were not doing their job!

this is how stupid we have become as a culture. we will punish those who have pointed out our shortcomings... never really tending to or correcting the shortcoming.

we're a country run by morons.

Jul. 23 2014 11:48 AM
eric from park slope

I miss Marty. I just listened to a politician promote a $5k "private" bounty on the head of whomever did this. Am I the only one bothred by this more than the bleached flags themselves?

Jul. 23 2014 11:48 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Robert from Roxbury -- you hit the nail smack dab on the head. It's a security issue.

Jul. 23 2014 11:48 AM
Bob from Westchester

Brian: Thanks for asking about the source of the reward money. Sounds like the Times story was wrong - the money is NOT from "his own pocket", but rather from an anonymous donor.

Jul. 23 2014 11:47 AM
David from Brooklyn

Eric Adams, listening to you makes me sick. You're obviously going to be voted out of office in the next election.

Jul. 23 2014 11:45 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Jeez Louise, it is not illegal to "desecrate" the flag.

Jul. 23 2014 11:45 AM
Brett from Brooklyn


Jul. 23 2014 11:43 AM
Lester Cohen

I think the over reaction by the borough president is indicative that the terrorists have won. They want us afraid, as does our government.

Jul. 23 2014 11:43 AM
Georgina from Staten Island

a "head lock" by wrapping the arm around a neck? Orwellian language. the guy should have been left alone in the first place.

Jul. 23 2014 11:43 AM
Thadeaus from Brooklyn

Who is this idiot equating some capture the flag prank type action with terror!!! Oh an elected official. That figures.

Jul. 23 2014 11:43 AM
Elizabeth from Brooklyn

To dismiss people who are skeptical to call this terrorism by claiming they do were probably not even born during 9/11 would mean that the the avg age of people disagreeing with him is about 8. Does he even hear himself???? I'm certainly never going to vote for him after this interview.

Jul. 23 2014 11:42 AM

Criminal trespass, theft, criminal mischief, vandalism - possible, maybe probable.


The BBP calling it terrorism is pathetic.

Jul. 23 2014 11:42 AM
Matt from Brooklyn

Wow, disappointed by Eric Adams. What a simplistic response. We have to be better prepared, seems to be the takeaway. But please stop crying wolf.

Jul. 23 2014 11:41 AM
Sascha from Windsor Terrace

Did Eric Adams just blame the legitimate criticism of his poor handling of this situation on the age of the critics? Mr. Adams, we're being dismissive of your rhetoric because it is misplaced and focuses on the expression rather than the lack of security demonstrated by our city.

Mr. Adams, as the kids say, you're doing it wrong.

Jul. 23 2014 11:41 AM
Scott from South Orange

"All we have to do is send two mujaheddin [...] to raise a small piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaeda" in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses." —Osama Bin Laden

Jul. 23 2014 11:40 AM
Mf from Staten

Oh, wow, you remember 9/11? What a unique perspective you have. I also remember that day and it was exactly like this. Genius.

Jul. 23 2014 11:39 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe the inadequate security was the point? "If I can get in here to put these flags up, we've surrendered already"?

Jul. 23 2014 11:39 AM
Kate from New York

I'm so worried about police over-reach and calling this a terrorist incident. As our government increases to militarize and overreact, this could boil over into a lot of problems.

Don't use that term until you are confirmed it is terrorism. Terrorism is a violent attack to instill fear. I'm sorry, but I'm not afraid of white flags.

Jul. 23 2014 11:39 AM
Karen from Brooklyn

And now he mentions 9-11, what a sick man, cn't even speak yet... not even born in september 11th he says. oh my... anyone can walk on the bridge anytime!!!!! Why climb to the top to be a terrorist.

sick man

Jul. 23 2014 11:39 AM
James L.

This man is a fool. Plain and simple.

Fear everything!!!!

Jul. 23 2014 11:38 AM
William from Manhattan

This is not a prank. These people provided an valuable service - they exposed a jaw-dropping failure of security. An investigation can help determine whether they should be charged and what if any penalty imposed.

Jul. 23 2014 11:38 AM
Daniel from Manhataan

Do I detect self-promotion in this overdramatization by Eric Adams? Terrorism? Give me a break!
I hope he doesn't expect the taxpayers to cough up the $5000.00 reward?
And the more I listen to him the more pathetic he sounds.

Jul. 23 2014 11:38 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Eric Adams is out to lunch. The white flags on the Brooklyn Bridge is an act of vandalism may be but not “terrorism.” The man is being idiotic with this dumb comment.

Jul. 23 2014 11:37 AM

Maybe we don't need to put an american flag on everything just to prove our patriotism and absolve our 9/11 guilt. If there were no flag there, this would have never happened.

Jul. 23 2014 11:36 AM
phillip from Brooklyn

If putting a white flag up is an act of "terrorism," then the term "terrorism" has lost all meaning.

Jul. 23 2014 11:36 AM
Mf from Staten

Who is this schlub and what happened to Marty?

Jul. 23 2014 11:35 AM
Bobby GG from East Village

Eric Adams calling this an act of terrorism is like calling Phillipe Petit a terrorist. Is this who Brooklyn elected as their Borough President -- a paranoiac sensationalist? It was a stunt, and it worked because it got Eric Adams and Bill Bratton's goat!

Jul. 23 2014 11:35 AM
Sara from Bushwick

What if they were carrying less than 3 oz. of pot when they did it?

Jul. 23 2014 11:35 AM
The Truth from Becky


Caller Craig is spot on.

Jul. 23 2014 11:35 AM
Ronnie from Brooklyn

the BBP is right: the definition of terrorism involves causing terror.

how is this possibly terrorism? who is terrorized?

give me a break?

if he's talking about criminal trespass and desecrating the flag, even the BBP can't feel terrorized.

the caller is right: the only scary thing is the pathetic job of the NYPD here.

Jul. 23 2014 11:34 AM
Donald from Inwood

I thought the flags were very faded American flags and not just plain white flags?

Jul. 23 2014 11:34 AM
sp from nyc

Terrorism? Are you kidding? Debasing the language just trivializes real terrorism. Analogous to those who call every politician they don't like nazis.

Jul. 23 2014 11:34 AM
Lisa from Brooklyn

This guy Adams is a dangerous demigod.

One of the few "art" pranks I like.

Millions of people use the bridge everyday and could do anything they want. ridiculous. shows the utter waste of trillions of dollars on anti terror programs.

"desecrate" the flag, hahahahaha

How do you know they damaged property, you think they bleached the flag up there?

Jul. 23 2014 11:34 AM

Thanks Eric, I'm sure that the folks who did this could not be happier that BLS is doing a segment on their hi-jinks. You played right into their hands just like the guys who sky-dived off the WTC 1.

Jul. 23 2014 11:32 AM
Dan from Sleepy Hollow

The BP sure knows how to get publicity. "Terrorism," give me a break.

Jul. 23 2014 11:20 AM
G from nyc

this is like one of those stories where you hear someone managed to get passed airport security with a box cutter in their carry-on.

Yet more proof that more more more cops doesn't make us more safe.
More more more more aggressive cops in riot gear ready to "jump" doesn't guarantee safety. It's not smart security, it's a result of a bloated budget.

Jul. 23 2014 11:19 AM
Zaszlo from Near the bridge

John Miller where were you?? Were the police texting, phoning, asleep at the wheel, or iPod-ing while on duty? So much for NYC security...

Jul. 23 2014 11:13 AM
Stephen Walker from Brooklyn

I cannot believe that there is not more anger from New Yorkers about the lax security around major landmarks in NY this reveals. Why aren't the Mayor and Police commissioner being held to account? Quite clearly, but for a lack of imagination, the flags could have been bombs. This is the same problem that was revealed when people scaled the Freedom Tower. NY's anti-terrorism measures are a joke and sooner or later NYers will come to regret that the flags episode was waved on- literally.

Jul. 23 2014 11:04 AM
Bob from Westchester

The story in today's Times says Mr. Adams is offering the $5,000 reward "out of his own pocket". Could you ask him to clarify if this means his personal money (which would be awesome) or money from his Borough President's budget, i.e., taxpayer money (which is still legitimate but not quite so awesome).

Jul. 23 2014 10:49 AM
Paul from UWS

There is a lack of subversive commentary in this City. This is more a commentary of hyper-gentrification in the NYC, and possibly expressing that Brooklyn has "surrendered" … or some other interesting idea-based statement.

Accusing these pranksters of terrorism is absolutely laughable. Logically, given the extraordinary coordination and planning required to pull this off, if the people responsible had wanted to do damage, they would have done so.

Like any good subversive prank, the authorities are embarrassed that they were caught with their pants down.

Jul. 23 2014 10:44 AM
Robert from Roxbury

I don't think that the white flags themselves are really the problem here. What makes me nervous is that somebody managed to plant flags at the top of the bridge towers without being noticed. How do people manage to scale the Brooklyn Bridge and change a flag without being noticed? What other items can be placed on the Brooklyn Bridge without being noticed?

Jul. 23 2014 10:10 AM

It may be an awesome political statement. Did I hear correctly, you called it terrorism? How about choke holds?

Jul. 23 2014 10:03 AM

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