Before Midnight, Occupy Wall Street Activists Retake Zuccotti Park (UPDATE)

01/01/2012 12:52 am ET | Updated Jan 02, 2012

"All week! All year! We'll still be here!"

"Whose park? Our park!"

The chants went up 10, 20, maybe 100 deep shortly before midnight at Zuccotti Park as Occupy Wall Street activists surprised the New York Police Department and retook the space that was once the homebase for their movement. The barricades surrounding the park went down. They have since been removed. Protesters were allowed to come and go through the park.

Earlier, activists danced on the piles of barricades. Some climbed the lattice of metal and hoisted American flags. Others waved signs and banners. The Zuccotti Park Christmas tree was wrapped in an Occupy Wall Street banner. Of course, there were the drums.

By 11:30, the NYPD had started to amass again with reports of mounted police units and scooter units arriving on the scene. There were reports via Twitter of police using pepper spray at various spots. By shortly after midnight, the police seem to fall back again. The Occupy movement's own fake police tape made an appearance. The OWS bat signal championing the 99 percent was projected on a nearby building.

Zuccotti Park hadn't been occupied since police cleared it in mid-November in an early morning raid. That led to police raids on other encampments across the country from Boston to Los Angeles.

The New Year's Eve takeover of Zuccotti Park could be temporary, as police still are maintaining a presence around the park. But shortly after midnight, the mood was still festive with activists hugging each other, sharing in the solidarity of surviving their first pepper spraying. And just feeling the shock of it all.

"This came out of nowhere," explained Tim, the narrator of the live stream. And a few minutes later: "I love being here. That's all I have to say."

The events began to escalate when a mother and her two young girls crossed into the park and began camping inside it earlier in the evening. After the tent was removed, activists were allowed inside the park at 8 p.m., according to a New York Times account.

The Times reported: "By about 10:30 p.m., there were more than 300 people inside, and the sounds of drums, horns and whistles pierced the night. One man carried a big, white placard that read, "'New Years Revolution.'"

The numbers of activists and revelers have only increased.

"People are still bouncing on the barricades," Tim told his live-stream viewers. "It's still going here."

At about 12:40, some activists left the park and began marching. Their destination was unclear.

UPDATE (Sunday, January 1 -- 12:00 p.m. ET): As of 2:10 a.m., The New York Times reported that NYPD officers forced protesters out of the park, leading several out in handcuffs. The New York Daily News added that a new line of barricades was put in place, with several nearby streets closed off as a result of the incident. As for the activists marching away from Zuccotti Park, both papers noted that protesters headed uptown, with separate marches being documented on both the east and west sides of the city.

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