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. Vince

    These protesters might not have a single voice yet, but if you read into what most are protesting, you will see that they are looking to defend the average citizen. You and me. Politicians aren't looking after us, they are catering to the corporations. Hopefully this movement will find a political voice that's reasonable and will help elect politicians who look after it's citizens. Our military spending is off the charts, we could fix social security, medicaid/medicare and balance the budget if we seriously addressed our military budget. Our foreign policy is ridiculous, we have become the bully on the block. Don't buy into the terrorism scare, it's overplayed to keep us fearful and allow our govt. to operate like a police state. If terrorism was such a threat to us, do you think our borders would still be as porous as they are today? 10 years after 911?

    Many people want regulations of our banks and financial system to avoid unfair business practices that result in housing bubbles, the fleecing of our retirement funds, unfair tax breaks and loopholes for the very rich/corporations, etc. Obviously our politicians haven't been doing the job, but now, with these protestors, our politicians may start listening. If they don't pay attention, hopefully they'll be voted out, one by one.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger in Detroit

      I work several jobs, pay all of my bills to stay out of debt, and pay my taxes. I doubt any of these "occupiers" represent anyone like me.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      These people are looking to defend no one. You make these blanket statements when you have 2 dozen different groups with 2 dozen different agendas and only concerned about their small part of the world. Half think their at the darn Mardi Gras.

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

      Actually, it looks like they want a bunch of unearned benefits, and they want them taken from people who earned/produced the benefits, and given to nonproducers (such as themselves)

      October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truejoy

      This is truly the same ticket Hitler ran on; and, no wonder, their main speaker said he was a student of Austrian economics. And, behind the scenes leaders of this movement have surely learned the lesson of 9/11, which is why we see mostly American faces at the forefront. No, terrorism from the outside could never threaten the home of the free and the brave. Only a movement such as the one in which Hitler rose to power could destroy this land that I love.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vince

      I work one job, earn a great income and my wife stays home. Look at the bigger picture, I do. Go ahead and believe there is nothing wrong with the link between our politicians and corporations and keep listening to Fox News.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ajgorm

    Wall Street is the heart of commerce, The heart of The Machine ! You must keep the Machine fed or it will consume you and spit you out again only to live and deal with more liberal socialist crap again,,,, only to end up back where we started ...I can see Russia from front porch..

    October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      go boy go
      you will fit right in Russia

      October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Aren't you glad we deregulated and supported unethical behavior to a point where it made a good system look like S#$& worth protesting?

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

      IT IS TIME TO MAKE A NEW CENTER OF FINANCE IN THE WORLD, WALL STREET IS DEAD

      Hey remember when teachers, public employees, planned parenthood, PBS, and NRP crashed the stock market,
      wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in taxpayer funded bail outs, gave themselves billions in bonuses and paid no taxes? yeah...me NEITHER

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    OH NO!!!! my stomach!!! I'm going t g OCCUPY the bathroom stall and make an new OWS protestor....

    October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JB

    I love sitting here at OWS and making post on my new laptop, made by a hungry child working for a big corporation. But what the heck, better that kid that me. After all I'm a 2 faced liberal and this kids needs are no where near as important as my wants.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      sound like a typical flea bagger

      October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • smc

      Nice fiction JB. Very little, if any, of a laptop would possibly be made with child labor. In contrast to your fiction, most of my liberal friends are quite aware of where the products they buy are made, who makes them, and try to buy locally where possible. Republicans I know rush off to Walmart, buy the cheapest Chinese junk possible, and brag about the low prices and so-called "jobs" Walmart provides.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • cj

      ur obviously lying, no one wiht that mindset would go to OWS
      way to try to make a point by being a drama queen

      October 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roger in Detroit

    All of these "protesters" should come to Detroit. Massive unions, record unemployment, people and businesses leaving like lemmings, tremendous urban decay, food stamps as far as the eye can see, class warfare on steriods, tons of liberal legislation and its results...this should be their utopia! Come here! You can see "your America" right here! It is already realized!!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      Detroit was rich until Reagan allowed countries with child labor and no pollution laws to compete without any rules.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Big_D

    The underwriters made me jump through hoops to prove I was good for the money but now the house isn't good for the money. Why can't we blame the bank's underwriter when we can't sell the house? They were paid plenty to assure the loan was good. Why do the banks get the bailout while the homeowners eat it?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      That's capitalism, baby! What's wrong with making an "honest" living and being able to keep your money you "earned", right? (read: sarcasm)

      October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      So should you be accountable for any of your actions or choices?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • SC

      It's because banks and underwriters didn't make people jump through hoops10-15 years ago that we are in this mess. So call it lesson learned. Signing on the dotted line is your problem. You can't blame everyone else for all your problems.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. D

    This is World War III, that no one saw coming because it didn't take the form of bomb dropping and tanks. Patton up!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TruthWillSetUFree

    I couldn't care less about getting higher multi-million dollar bonuses for the ultra-rich corporate execs in this country. I care not about the financial statements qtrly, yearly, results of any one US corporation. What I care about is what is best for the country as a whole, not just what is good for the top 1%. The top 1% DO NOT give a dam about what is best for the country as a whole. They have extreme tunnel vision based on selfish GREED. They do not even attempt to find answers that are good for the country as a whole. This country is controlled by the money of the few, the 1% that buy all of the political influence in the US. The US is no longer a capitalist country, it is now a dictatorial regime of the ultra-rich corporate interests. There is no way in H that can continue.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      You are correct. Corporations only care about PROFIT above everything else – above ethics, above humanity, above anything. They worship Money and believe that anything to get it is justified and is right to do.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Seamus McDermott

    Does business exist to serve the people, or do people exist to serve business? I think we have the cart in front of the horse here in America.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Agreed. Demand creates a successful business. Who creates the demand? The customer, the people. If people don't want your product, then you don't get a bailout! You fail!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      There is no cart. There is no horse.
      Rather, there is a man and a horse walking together.
      Sometimes the mane rides the horse and sometimes the horse needs the man to feed and water him.
      Together they live and make progress. They are stronger together.
      But these days the man rides the horse hard, beats him and gives him brackish water.
      And the horse is fairly p1553d about it.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    I saw the "Occupy Syracuse" protesters on Saturday, and could not help but to laugh at them. They are all so unorgaized, with no central idea/goal/message. It is clear that these protests are just organized for the unemployed (mostly poorly educated/unmotivated) individuals to fill their time, and get off their couches. Well, atleast they are getting some exercise. I graduated college in december 2007 with a degree in business, and had 3 job offers. This is when the recession was in full effect, and it was "impossible" to find a job. Goes to show that if you studied a major that is applicable in this world (not psychology, english, anthropology, history, etc., that there are jobs for hardworking intelligent people. I didn't just apply and move on to the next job. I found referrals, followed up with HR, followed up with the people I interviewed with. Stop complaining. Work hard and you will have a better life. Period!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SC

    The greatest thing about this movement is that you only need two things to join this movement. One, be angry about something. Two, have a finger to point.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      I just had a bowel movement. Does that count?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sybilspeaks

    Watch the movie "Inside Job". It explains how the greedy bankers brought down the world economy with their unethical activities and it ends with Obama hiring many of these very same sleazy bankers to work for him in his government. Money talks, and even Obama isn't above being bribed by the banks. Shame on you Obama! All these corrupt bankers knew what they were doing was wrong, yet they all made tons of money and not one of them has been charged or is in jail!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Yes, I agree!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Vince, you say "they are looking to defend the average citizen." - from whom? And who is "they". Whenever I hear someone telling me they are going to "defend me" I know its time to defend myself.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Patrick

    Yeah for the Global Protest!!!! Keep it up!!!!!!!!

    In America, here are some things you can do:

    1. Move your money from the Banks into a Credit Union (I am leaving BoA after I research the Credit Unions in my local area)

    2. Write your congressman and Senators – ask them to be change agents and help restore true capitalism and end lobbyists and the era of corporatism.

    3. Try, if possible, to buy American made goods (this is very difficult, I know since corporations have outsourced to third-world, cheap labor to increase profits).

    4. Work for bi-partisan solutions for our countries health. This is not a Democratic or Republican movement but an American movement which is becoming a World-movement.

    5. Discuss issues and work together with your local leaders to affect positive change in your towns, cities and counties. Work at the grass-root level to make positive change with your local leaders.

    If anyone has any other ideas, please submit them.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Ouch. 1 and 3 sound like free market solutions and free markets are EVIL! Cant we just beg Washington to pass laws to make it all better?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wayne

    Socialism doesn't work. Even the lazy will have to get a job.

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