October 17th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

'Occupy' movement goes global as a symbol of shared economic frustration

Editor's note: iReporters all over the globe are showing us what Occupy Wall Street is like in their towns and cities through the Open Story: from the Aleutian Islands to Raleigh, North Carolina; from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Zadar, Croatia. Check out a map of the reports, videos and pictures here.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which swept across the United States as thousands demanded that government institutions change to help fix a struggling economy, gained a major boost as the world began to come together in solidarity over shared economic frustrations.

As the sun rose on each country, one-by-one in the same way each stock market would open, protesters took to the streets. What began as a movement that was largely ignored by the mainstream media can't be dismissed anymore, not when thousands of people are sharing rally cries from Zucotti Park in New York to City Hall Square in Copenhagen, Denmark. Perhaps that's what organizers hoped for when they called the global day of protest "Solidarity Saturday."

But that global push may not end with the one day of solidarity. Some would say it has bolstered the ambitions and confidence of those who began Occupy Wall Street. It was a hint that, with the right support and organization, they can spread the message they've so desperately tried to get across: They want change, and they want it now. And even though the frustrations and complaints may differ from country to country, the theme remains that governments aren't handling economic crises properly.

The protests spread amid the growing financial troubles for several Western countries. Maybe that's why it's no surprise the global movement came during a G20 meeting of ministers and bankers in Paris. Finance ministers with the Group of 20 pledged Saturday to take "all necessary actions" to stabilize global markets and ensure that banks are capitalized.

Europeans turned out to protest amid debt troubles and austerity plans in Greece, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Germany. And in an increasingly intertwined global economy where Americans watch what happens in the Greek debt crisis, the world too is watching to see how the United States is handling its economic issues.

In the spirit of that solidarity, thousands stepped out to support the frustrations of the unemployed in the U.S. and, in some cases, to share their own grievances.

We're taking a look at scenes from across the world to find out more about the main frustrations being lodged and how the protests are drawing support from each other through the lenses of our reporters and iReporters around the world.

London

The movement gained traction in London especially because of the presence of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Some Brits, who have not been shy to share their frustrations with their economic situation during riots months earlier, echoed American sentiments that governments need to focus not just on the rich but on the little man.

Amedeo d'Amore , an iReporter, was at a demonstration near St. Paul's Cathedral, where he said there were about 1,500 to 2,000 protesters along with a few hundred police officers.

Protesters gather at the London Stock Exchange on Saturday.

"Essentially, they are very disappointed by the current economic system," he said. "From my understanding, they feel that governments have done too much to protect companies while doing very little to assist the average citizen."

iReporter Hao Li was also at the London protests and said the activists were mostly young people between 20 to 30 years old. They didn't appear to represent the overall "general population" of London or the United Kingdom. It was more politically active young people rather than those who have suffered from the financial crisis, he said.

Assange's message did echo some of the common messages from Occupy Wall Street, Li told CNN's iReport.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at protests in London, England.

"He did say several times that the current financial system was unsustainable (and) made a few jabs at the greed and evilness of bankers in London who caused people so much harm," Li said.

Kyle Meyr's photos  showed signs portraying the banks in the UK as the real looters, referring to the summer riots. But Meyr found that like in New York, there was an apparent lack of cohesion as to what the protests centered around.

"The crowd was amazingly enthusiastic, but you could see that a good number of them were confused about what they had come out to protest. It seemed that a lot of them had mixed agendas and scattered ideas of where these protests should be going," Meyr said. "Some tried aggression and yelling, others handed out fliers, and the rest seemed to just be along for the ride.

"To be completely honest, I cannot decide on one unifying theme of the protest. Most were there to show their hatred for the government bailouts for banks, and others hated the banks themselves, but there were a few that just seemed to dislike wealthy people in general."

Paris

John Sprankle was alongside demonstrators in Paris who were showing solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.

He said that while posters seemed to indicate the economy was at the heart of the protest, he wasn't sure whether there was a solidly common theme.

"I don't see anyone offering solutions. There doesn't seem to be a unified voice," he said.

He also felt some came out to be part of the movement without really being involved in the cause.

"I also believe the majority of the marchers don't even know what they are marching about and see it more as a party," he said. "In fact, I'd say if anyone can camp put anywhere for six weeks, they are definitely not producing and paying taxes, so they have nothing to protest against."

Rome

At the protests in Rome, things took a particularly violent turn. Firefighters battled a blaze at an Interior Ministry building near Porta San Giovanni, the main gathering site of the Italian protesters taking part in the Occupy movement Saturday.

Ernesto Gygax documented the protests near the famous Basilica of St. John Lateran, where police struggled to keep violence from turning deadly. A spokesman for Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who condemned the violence, said that 70 people were injured, 40 of them police officers.

The protesters - some wearing ski masks and belonging to a group called Black Bloc - torched cars, broke windows and clashed with police.

Jeremy T. Katz captured the mood of the demonstrators.

"'The leaders were holding a sign that said, "PEOPLE OF EUROPE: RISE UP,' " he said.

Katz said the crowd was primarily peaceful and appeared to be normal working-class citizens. They chanted demands in Italian, he said. Generally, the group appeared upbeat "but clearly angry with the EU and Italian officials."

"Their main demands seemed to revolve around the failure of their government and the EU to handle the economic crisis. They protested job cuts and tax increases, as well as the "greedy" big banks and corporations. I could tell they were also upset that the Italian premier, Silvio Berlusconi, had not been voted out of office yesterday."

Katz too saw violence at the protests.

"Further back, there was a group of more violent protestors who lit two cars on fire and smashed the windows of a post office and a bank," he said.

Oslo, Norway

Siri Klemetsaune went to observe the OccupyOslo movement in Norway and said that about 100 people turned out for the protest near Stortinget, the parliamentary building.

Klemetsaune, who said she is unemployed and on welfare, said the turnout was larger than expected.

Demonstrators gather at OccupyOslo in Norway.

"Despite the initial grim sound of OccupyOslo in light of recent events, a fairly major crowd of approximately 100 people gathered outside the governmental building on October the 15th to show their support of the Occupy Wall street movement," Klemetsaune told CNN's iReport. "This in a country in which the entire population might as a matter of fact be a part of the infamous 1%."

Klemetsaune, 29, is "fairly OK" with the government's rule in Norway for now.

"But the future worries me. The system of ruling appears to need a change, before we fall into the trap America has fallen into," Klemetsaune said. "Now, I’m not sure how to end this. But let’s just say that even though we are filthy rich and privileged, we stand by the people of the worlds side. Occupying."

Copenhagen, Denmark

Mikkel Wiese was with demonstrators in Copenhagen.

He said there were young and old side-by-side with parents and children, those who were politically active and those who had lost their jobs.

Movement leaders share their message in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"They want money spent on the 99%, and they want to take it not only from the rich but also from the expenses on wars," he said. "I have sympathy with the peacefully minded protesters and their concern for the poor."

Wiese sent pictures of the large-scale demonstrations where messages were shouted through megaphones and signs proclaimed that change was in the hands of the protesters.

Signs show the frustration from those at protests in Denmark.

Amsterdam

Sarah E. Matson was in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where protesters are "demanding an end to corruption in the financial world and more attention for the middle class," she said.

"I totally agree, which is why I was there," Matson told CNN's iReport.

Matson said everyday people took turns at the microphone, speaking both in Dutch and English.

Protests also took place in Netherlands, Amsterdam.

"The complaints were as varied as they were poignant," she said. "(There was) a refugee from the Philipines, a student from Amsterdam, older protesters remembering a similiar protests years earlier and young organizers making it clear that change needs to happen for the world to become a safe, cleaner and less corrupt place."

Rekyjavík, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in Rekyjavík, Iceland.

"The people were angry and said what the think about the financial system in Iceland and all over the world," he said. "They want the government to stop helping those that are responsible for the banking crisis while the public gets little help."

Tokyo

Jason Ward, a Los Angeles native visiting Tokyo on a three-week trip, was at a demonstration where he said roughly 300 demonstrators took part in the solidarity movement.

"The crowd was about 80% Japanese and 20% American tourists, with signs in both Japanese and English," he said.

Demonstrators show solidarity with signs in Tokyo, Japan.

"Though there were chants about corporate greed, it was predominantly an anti-nuclear movement. The numbers weren't huge, but the folks I talked to seemed very inspired by what was happening in the U.S."

Taipei, Taiwan

Keith Perron, a radio journalist living and working in East Asia, was with people protesting in Taipei, Taiwan.

"The police presence was not big. Very small, in fact," he said. "After the crowed walked around the Taipei 101, they were let in the Taipei 101 in an orderly fashion, which was very unexpected."

Perron said he believed that about 85% of the crowd was between the ages of 18 and 30.

Toronto

Yusur Al Bahrani was with the Occupy Toronto movement that marched through the streets of the city's downtown area.

He described the protesters as being from different communities and having "different political perspectives, but they all share one thing: being against war, militarism and corporate greed."

Al Bahrani said the demonstrators also demanded job opportunities and opportunities for the work force.

"I totally agree with them," he told CNN's iReport. "I am the 99%"

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Filed under: Canada • Economy • Europe • France • Iceland • Italy • Japan • Jobs • Julian Assange • Netherlands • Norway • Occupy Wall Street • Taiwan • U.S. • United Kingdom
soundoff (1,288 Responses)
  1. ajgorm

    This is when the liberals free themselves from the capitalists and take OVER ! I cant wait ..

    October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • frankie b

      hold your breath till t happens

      October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      What do they do then? There isn't a working brain among them!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Allen

    These protests are about the jealousy of spoiled kids that have been brainwashed by their unionized teachers to demand pure socialism. Imagine if their wish is granted and the 1% gets taxed at 100%. Would the "99% ers" protests end? Of course not.

    I find it even more ironic that these protests are going on in already fully socialized coutries like Belgium where Mean personal income tax is 55% and Germany where it is 52%. By comparison In the US personal income tax is 28% and in Canada where I live it's 32%.

    Children (and obviously adults) need to be taught the basics of economics and appreciate the tremendous blessings we have living in western countries. Socialized countries saddled with high debt will have a tough time getting out of the immenent recession/depression while free market economies, like those in Canada and the US have hope unless they are plunged deeper into socialism, where Obama is steering America.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • asdf

      Yeah difference is in Europe high taxes actually go for social programs such as healthcare instead of just going as a giant pork program for death merchants (offense contractors) that sit around all day figuring out the most efficient way to kill brown people.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cory

      You have completely missed the point of the movement!! Its not about getting me a job (i am employeed full time and work a minimum of 45 hrs a week)

      The Movement is calling out the CEO's, Bankers, & The FED to finally put the GOVT. back in the PEOPLES HANDS!

      This movement is for you, your children & your grandchildren

      If we keep going down the same wormhole we have been for the better part of 100 years we are all going to wake up one morning and wonder why no one tried stopping it!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      it's about making 90k a year and having nothing left after food-gas-house payment-medical-and everything that is needed minus the extra's........

      October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seamus McDermott

      You're really in no position to say what these protests are about, since you fail to grasp even the most rudimentary concepts behind this movement.
      If you want people to think you are credible, you should consider putting at least one fact in your post.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bunnie

      The protests include workers 40 and up who have degrees, did everything right and ended up without a job, without a house or completely upside down in a mortgage, without medical insurance, without retirement savings and without prospects of getting a job.

      You're an idiot if you think this is only about Gen Y.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jay

    Our government has accepted campaign contributions from corporations, unions, and brokerage firms for years and now we no longer have a Democracy. This movement is not about a bunch of whiners who cannot find jobs, it is about patriotism and demanding that the People in this country be represented. Enough is enough. Capitalism has and will flourish in this country if Republicans and Democrats would stop giving favorable legislation to their donors and start representing the people. We do not want barriers to entry created by a government beholden to donors, we want Democracy and when we have it, this country will rock again!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Truth

      Well said!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carm

    Why can't us freaks & norms just get along?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mark

      What a waste of time and energy .....

      October 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. asdf

    Ever notice those that preach pulling yourself up by your bootstraps had mommy and daddy pay for their college?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Inciteful

    Capitalism is NOT the culprit. The PROBLEM is corporate executives (and not just those on Wall Street) abusing the system with the sole objective of enriching themselves at the expense of anyone/everyone else. And, make no mistake about it, politicians with similar motivation are their accomplices.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CarlosinTx

      The skirt of capitalism is the problem. The greedy corporate overlords hide behind the skirt of capitalism, so therefore capitalism will get heaved ho overboard. If it is truly good it will return with needed controls applied to the purveyors of it. But unbridled capitalism only brings with it totalitarianism in the form of Monopolies.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cory

    govjacked.com is a pretty cool website I just stumbled upon. Its dedicated to all things Occupy. It includes live feeds from around the world, up to date articles on all major happenings, youtube videos, etc....you name it they are getting it. I think its pretty neat....now I dont have to jump back and forth from page to page to get my information!!

    Lets keep this movement alive!!! We are finally evolving as a species and it has all culminated to this point NOW!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. capitalism_will_go_way_of_dodo

    Capitalism serves as a vehicle for the greedy. Companies and ceo's that are greedy give big money to politicians to help keep them in power to serve their needs, so they continue to become even more rich and stay that way. These people aren't going out and robbing banks to satisfy their greed, they're working the system for all it's worth.
    Talking about cancer? How about health care organizations marking up the cost of cancer treatments and drugs to make even more profit, much more than is rational and necessary. That's your capitalism you fools. Make no mistake, if a cure was found tomorrow all the greedy ceo's would use their influence with politicians to make the cure unvailable to many just to keep selling their super expensive bandaid treatments.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. CarlosinTx

    Screw Capitalism we need Laborism

    October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Julia

    No one wants Wall Street greed...unless we're talking about pensions and 401(k)s. I wonder if they are protesting that?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cosmos42

      You mean the pensions and 401(k)s that just vanished? I'm sure they're protesting that.

      October 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. redwine9991

    this thing is growing and growing and growing. It is time the royals pay attention to the people.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • frankie b

      Not sure if it growing like a boil or a wart- both can be cured

      October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      decided- like a smelly pus filled as- boil

      October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • magnus

      Yes, the corrupt leaders better pay attention. Washington is next.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cosmos42

    These world-wide protests have been 40 years in the making...

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jim

      And they will end as soon as winter comes.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. david

    most all the pro comments on this site and others are PAID for by wall street and firms who contract out to wall street to flood the media with favorable media reports...it is just more manipulation by wall street.....one step away form all the insider trading that goes on

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jim

      You give them too much credit for organizational skills.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Karl Marx

    It is amazing how many "useful idiots" in the world think life is or should be fair!!! LOL!!!! Let these sheep keep pizzing into the wind instead of bettering their lives with what REALITY has dealt them!!! LOL!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • frankie b

      You sound like Graucho instead of Karl

      October 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. WaldoStreet

    What's ironic is that these protesters are mostly democrats that vote for Obama yet few realize Obama's Dodd-Frank bill was supposed to deliver what they wanted. These people will vote for Obama again looking for Hope and Change.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CarlosinTx

      Yeah Waldo "was supposed to" is the key part of your phrase. Anytime any Republican gets its hands on anything that can protect humanity or the citizens it crushes it. This is just another case in point. Republicans should be HNUG. Misspelled on purpose to get by fillter)

      October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
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