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Occupy Wall Street protesters return to Zuccotti Park, scuffle with police on New Year

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Occupy Wall Street protesters stand on barricades they took down and piled inside Zuccotti Park in the Manhattan borough of New York, Jan. 1.

Just as a record crowd ushered in the new year in New York's Times Square, Occupy Wall Street protesters returned to Zuccotti Park by the hundreds to reclaim the park and the area around it. 

After taking down metal barricades, piling them up and scuffling with police, protesters were soon kicked out of the park. Smaller groups splintered and started marching through the streets after being shoed from lower Manhattan. Police used pepper spray on protesters and a number of them were arrested.

Into the wee hours of the morning, groups of protesters marched north. Some hurled orange traffic barrels into the street, blocking traffic, though most of the demonstrations were peaceful. A seemingly high ratio of police to protesters monitored the groups' movement, keeping them on sidewalks and from obstructing traffic.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

An Occupy Wall Street protester hurls barrels into the middle of Broadway near Zuccotti Park in the Manhattan borough of New York, Jan. 1.

Scores of officers on foot, on scooters and in sundry vehicles closed streets to keep up with the group as traffic snarled.

There was a bizarre contrast between protesters and revelers out in force for New Years' celebrations. The group marched through Manhattan's West Village, an upscale neighborhood, loaded with as many drinking establishments as quiet residential streets.

By 3:00am, demonstrators had zig-zagged their way to the East Village.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Police monitor a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters that marched to the West Village after being barred from Zuccotti Park in the Manhattan borough of New York on Jan. 1.

Polly Smith, 30, of Brooklyn, was celebrating New Years with friends and witnessed the roving band of police and protesters as they marched east towards 2nd Ave. 

"I was really surprised at the volume of the police response for what seemed like a relatively small organized protest. It was surprising to see [the protest] in that neighborhood. You would expect to see that in Times Square or downtown, but not right in the heart of a more low-key neighborhood."

For more from AP, read here.

Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com

Police push back Occupy Wall Street protesters after they were cleared from Zuccotti Park in the Manhattan borough of New York, Jan. 1.