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50 arrested as Occupy Wall Street tries to seize church lot for new camp

Michael Bocchieri / Getty Images

NYPD officers push a fence back against activists as they try and gain entrance to the private park owned by Trinity Church next to Duarte Square at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street on Dec. 17, in New York City. Activists marked the three month anniversary to the Occupy Wall Street movement with speeches and performances in Durante Square.

Andrew Burton / Reuters

Retired Episcopal bishop George E. Packard, left, who is affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, climbs a ladder to illegally enter Juan Pablo Duarte Square during a march in New York, Dec. 17.

From msnbc.com's Miranda Leitsinger:

Bryan Smith / Zuma Press

Bishop George Packard is under arrest after entering the privately owned area of Duarte Sqaure.

"This whole occupation has been a lesson in freedom for me," said Ashley Perry, 24, who traveled from her home in Tampa, Fla., to support her New York counterparts. "If you still think that you have your First Amendment rights, go out and try to express them… and see how long it takes for someone to come and shut you down -- it will happen quickly."

Earlier in the day, demonstrators played drums, cymbals and trombones, held group meetings and waved signs with a variety of messages -- "Disobedience is civil" and "Sorry to inconvenience your apathy" -- as they marked the completion of three months with a major direct action that they hoped would give them a new home as authorities continue to shutter camps nationwide. 

Protesters -- flanked by police officers -- coalesced on the nearly half-acre plot about one mile northwest of their former camp at Zuccotti Park. But their potential new landlord at Duarte Square, Trinity Church, had long voiced strong opposition.

"In all good conscience and faith, we strongly believe to do so would be wrong, unsafe, unhealthy and potentially injurious," its rector, The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, said in a statement dated Dec. 9 and posted to the church website. "The health, safety and security problems posed by an encampment here, compounded by winter weather, would dwarf those experienced at Zuccotti Park. Calling this an issue of 'political sanctuary' is manipulative and blind to reality."

Read the full story here and check out more PhotoBlog posts related to the 'Occupy' movement here.

John Minchillo / AP

Occupy Wall Street protestors are shoved onto the street by police near Duarte Square after an effort to occupy the space they were previously removed from weeks prior, Dec. 17, in New York. While officers made arrests, protesters chanted obscenities and screamed: "Make them catch you!" About a thousand people gathered across the street at a city-owned park.