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Inclement weather pummels New York protesters

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:39 PM EDT, Wed October 19, 2011
Actor Alec Baldwin tweeted Tuesday night:
Actor Alec Baldwin tweeted Tuesday night: "I wanna go to Zuccotti Park."
  • NEW: Rain and wind sweeps through New York's financial district
  • NEW: Actor Alec Baldwin briefly joins protesters
  • NEW: Protesters try to hold down tents and tarps against weather
  • Feminist author and activist Naomi Wolf arrested

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A smaller-than-usual group of protesters encamped in a Lower Manhattan park braved a dose of inclement weather Wednesday, holding down tents and plastic tarps as heavy rains and winds swept through the city.

Many of the Zuccotti Park inhabitants could be seen clad in rain gear, trying -- in most cases unsuccessfully -- to stay dry.

But the group was again buoyed by a bit of star power the night before when actor Alec Baldwin briefly joined the growing, largely leaderless movement.

"I wanna go to Zuccotti Park," Baldwin tweeted from his verified Twitter account Tuesday night, referring to the de facto headquarters and meeting ground for the protests in New York.

Close to midnight, Baldwin tweeted "On my way to OWS (Occupy Wall Street)."

Baldwin's support came the same night that feminist author and activist Naomi Wolf was taken into police custody during protests outside Skylight Studio in Manhattan.

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Wolf, the author of the book "The Beauty Myth," was cited because she was blocking pedestrian traffic, police said. The protest was outside an event where New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo was being presented with an award.

These developments seem to point to the continued growth of the movement as the Occupy Wall Street protest hit its 33-day mark Wednesday. In the past actress Susan Sarandon visited the Manhattan site, music mogul Russell Simmons has expressed solidarity with several tweets, and filmmaker Michael Moore has met with the protesters.

On Monday, three Americans freed after being held in Iran lent their support to the spreading movement, appearing at a rally in Oakland, California, and applauding its participants' idealism and activism while making a point to protest what they call the harsh treatment of state prisoners in California.

While the protesters highlighted a number of causes, the overarching theme remained the same: populist anger over an out-of-touch corporate, financial and political elite.

Especially in New York, demonstrators have typically railed against what they describe as corporate greed, arrogance and power as well as repeatedly asserting that the nation's wealthiest 1% holds inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population. But as in Northern California, other issues have also periodically taken center stage -- including against the U.S.-led military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and disappointment with the political dynamic in Washington.

The movement has drawn criticism from some politicians who have characterized it as counterproductive, jumbled and misguided. Others, though, have given their support and said the protesters are voicing legitimate, widespread frustrations regarding the current economic and political situation.

Several Republican presidential candidates mentioned the protests during CNN's debate Tuesday night.

Former Godfather's Pizza executive Herman Cain did not back away from his earlier criticisms of the movement.

"I still stand by my statement and here's why," Cain said. "They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they're directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn't put in failed economic policies... They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration."

Texas Rep. Ron Paul had a different view of the protests.

"I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims," Paul said. "There's a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can't blame the victims. I'd go to Washington as well as Wall Street."

CNN's George Lerner and Deanna Proeller contributed to this report.

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