UPDATE: A pair of German artists have claimed responsibility for replacing the American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags, WCBS-TV reported.
The artists claimed that the stolen American flags were handled per U.S. Flag Code guidelines, and New York officials were in talks to recover the flags through the American embassy in Germany.
Why are there white flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge? pic.twitter.com/cMj65jNK9e— Mark S. Weprin (@MarkWeprin) July 22, 2014
Close up pictures reveal that the white flags appear to be white-washed American flags.
It's unclear who is responsible for the switch, but observers have already begun making the inevitable comparisons to a white flag of surrender.
I subscribe to the theory that the white flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge indicate Manhattan's surrender… http://t.co/y059zH3S1i— McP (@JNicholsMcP)July 22, 2014
Police are investigating the incident, with officers scaling one of the two affected towers before 11 a.m. EDT, WCBS-TV reported.
Police have taken down one of the white flags, and just before 11:30 a.m. EDT could be clearly seen folding the banner in the triangular manner used to fold standard American flags.
Later in the day, two news outlets, the Associated Press and the New York Daily News, fell for a hoax: a parody Twitter account representing the "Bicycle Lobby" claimed responsibility for the white flags, and both the AP and the NY Daily News initially reported that claim as fact.
Both outlets have since corrected their stories.
This story has been updated.
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter