New York City police have arrested about 50 Occupy Wall Street protesters who scaled a chain-link fence leading to a church-owned lot next to Duarte Square that the Occupiers want to use as their replacement camp for Zuccotti Park.

Clergy not only gave speeches emboldening the Occupiers’ illegal activity– some of them participated in the illegal takeover of private property in broad daylight and with the NYPD close at hand.

Protesters used a wooden ladder to help scale the lot fence, and one man wearing a Santa suit stood among the protesters on the ladder as others cheered. While officers made arrests, protesters chanted obscenities and screamed: “Make them catch you!”

About 500 people people gathered across the street at a city-owned Duarte park and watched as the melee ensued in fenced-off D-17. Other protestors lifted up the chain link fence surrounding Duarte park and stormed the empty lot. Once inside, Occupiers shouted slogans and awaited for the inevitable police response, which came moments later when officers clad in riot gear began making arrests.

Since Zuccotti Park was shut down by Mayor Bloomberg last month,  protesters have been looking for another site from which to base their Occupy Wall Street movement. Trinity Church, a well-known episcopal congregation that owns the D-17 lot space has refuse the Occupiers entry to the space on the grounds it would be unsafe for them to camp there. For this stance, Trinity Church officials have received criticism not just from the Occupiers, but other clergy for this stance.

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