By Olivia Scheck and Carla Zanoni
DOWNTOWN — Kanye West visited Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park Monday afternoon.
A throng formed around West, who still sported gold chains as he entered the park to check out the anti-corporate greed gathering, causing one member of the crowd to scream, "There are no celebrities, just people!"
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons tweeted photos of himself and West, writing that the performer was "on his way to #occupywallstreet" moments before the rapper was spotted at Zuccotti Park.
Simmons shrugged off criticism of West's visit, tweeting "His presence matters. #occupywallstreet. 'Celebrit[ies] have no real value except to use it to help others.'"
As the outspoken and controversial music star visited the site, Rev. Al Sharpton broadcast his radio show from the northern end of the park between 1 and 4 p.m. on Monday.
Sharpton spoke with protesters and Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory during the three hour program, and said he planned to spend the night in the park to continue speaking to protest attendees.
"Why did I come to Occupy Wall Street on Columbus Day? I wanted to discover America on Columbus Day," Sharpton said during his radio show.
Sharpton's broadcast was largely met with support, despite concern from some that the protest has become a publicity stop for celebrities.
"He's here as a radio show host, not as an organizer...I give him a lot of credit for that," said Randy Credico, 56, a comedian and human rights activist who appeared on the show and said he has been camped out in Zuccotti Park since Sept. 24.
Others, like FDNY engineer Robert Brown, 52, questioned Sharpton's motives while listening to the broadcast in the park.
"Some people just insert themselves into these situations for their own benefit," he said. "You want it to be a grass roots movement, not a celebrity thing."