Police encounter demonstators on the Brooklyn Bridge during the Occupy Wall Street protests on Saturday.

Story highlights

About 700 protesters were arrested, then released

The group says it is protesting the economy, among other things

Police say protesters blocked lanes to Brooklyn Bridge

Protesters bang drums and chant, "the world is watching"

New York CNN  — 

Police arrested hundreds of protesters who occupied an iconic New York bridge during demonstrations against the nation’s financial system, before releasing the demonstrators with tickets.

The “Occupy Wall Street” protesters extended their rally to Brooklyn Bridge, where they were cited for blocking the roadway, authorities said late Saturday.

Protesters banged drums and chanted, “the whole world is watching” as police moved in.

“Over 700 summonses and desk appearance tickets have been issued in connection with the demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge … after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway,” said Paul J. Browne, deputy commissioner for the New York City Police Department.

Browne said authorities had warned protesters they would be arrested if they occupied the roadway.

“Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested,” he said.

Bridge traffic heading to Brooklyn from Manhattan was shut down for several hours, police said. Manhattan-bound lanes were open during the incident.

The protesters are rallying against what they say are social inequities resulting from the financial system.

Organizers have said they take their inspiration from the Arab Spring protests that swept through Africa and the Middle East this year. Crowds have taken up residence in the park in New York’s financial district, calling for 20,000 people to flood the area for a “few months.”

The protest campaign – which uses the hashtag #occupywallstreet on the microblogging site Twitter – began in July with the launch of a simple campaign website calling for a march and a sit-in at the New York Stock Exchange.

Over the past two weeks, demonstrations have addressed various issues, including police brutality, union busting and the economy, the group said.

CNN’s Susan Candiotti and Jordana Ossad contributed to this report.