Top House Democratic lawmakers are starting to jump aboard the Occupy Wall Street movement — a growing protest that some activists hope turns into a liberal version of the tea party.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, praised the thousands who have flooded Wall Street in recent weeks in protests aimed at the heart of the financial sector.

“The silent masses aren’t so silent anymore. They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through,” Larson, a Connecticut Democrat, said. “While I don’t condone their every action, I applaud their standing up for what they believe in.”

The Occupy Wall Street rallies – now in their third week – have sparked hundreds of arrests, a blockade of the Brooklyn Bridge and dozens of sister protests across the country. Their grievances are plentiful: corporate support for mortgage foreclosures, bank bailouts, global warming, and the “torture” of “nonhuman animals.”

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who represents upstate New York, joined in supporting the protests Wednesday, blaming the banking industry for the widening gap between the rich and the rest of America following the recession.

“It’s time for all Americans to pay their fair share,” Slaughter, the ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, said in a statement. “And I’m so proud to see the Occupy Wall Street movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy.”

Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who are co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a joint statement that they were “inspired” by the ongoing protests. And liberal hero Russ Feingold — who lost his Wisconsin Senate seat last year — has also endorsed the protests.

“We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefitting the super wealthy,” Ellison and Grijalva said in a statement.