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50 arrested in Occupy Wall Street demonstration

By Dominique Debucquoy Dodley and Jesse Solomon, CNN
December 18, 2011 -- Updated 0511 GMT (1311 HKT)
A protester is arrested during Saturday's Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York.
A protester is arrested during Saturday's Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Those arrested attempted to scale a fence belonging to a church, NYPD spokesman says
  • The arrests "may have stymied plans to cut through the fence on multiple sides," police say
  • Church rector says the lot is un-equipped for a winter encampment
  • Occupy spokesman expresses disappointment with the church's position

New York (CNN) -- New York police arrested 50 protesters Saturday on what organizers from Occupy Wall Street were dubbing a day to "re-occupy," coinciding with the movement's three-month anniversary.

Those arrested were charged with trespassing after they attempted to scale a fence belonging to a church in lower Manhattan, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.

Browne added that the arrests "may have stymied plans to cut through the fence on multiple sides."

The fence protected an area of Duarte Park that is owned by Trinity Church. Though supportive of the movement, the Rev. James H. Cooper, the rector of the church, said he does not believe setting up a tent city at Duarte Park enhances its mission or that of the protesters.

"The vacant lot has no facilities to sustain a winter encampment," Cooper said in a statement Saturday. "In good conscience and faith, we strongly believe to do so would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy, and potentially injurious."

A spokesman for Occupy Wall Street expressed disappointment that the movement did not get more support from the church.

"Churches have been supportive venues -- it is a shame that this came to this," Karanja Gacuca said.

Protesters are looking for a new home after being evicted last month from the city's Zuccotti Park -- the movement's physical birthplace -- when a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that they could protest at the park, but not camp out.

Upon hearing of the protesters' plan to set up camp at the church, officials from the Episcopal Church, which oversees Trinity, warned Friday that demonstrators would be subject to police and legal action should they attempt to trespass on the property.

"In a country where all people can vote and Trinity's door to dialogue is open, it is not necessary to forcibly break into property," Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement Friday.

Gacuca said Saturday that protesters aren't "interested in seizing property -- we are interested in justice and expressing our frustrations."

"The area we're talking about is empty and vacant. It is a tragedy because it is a waste of resource," he said.

Earlier, Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered in Duarte Park for speeches and music. Protesters called Saturday "part of a call to re-occupy in the wake of the coordinated attacks and subsequent evictions of occupations across the nation and around the world," according to their website.

It is unclear when the arrested protesters will be released. A smaller number of Occupy participants marched to Times Square on Saturday night.

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