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.


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."


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."


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.


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."


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.


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. forest gump

    the reason the economy is n the crapper is all the moeny is tied up in building ships space ships that will orbit earth until the polar shift is completed

    October 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      What about human achievment and human greatness? We no longer have a space shuttle, but we have food stamps for everyone! There can be no doubt that our best days are behind us.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • A W Messenger

      The comments-format on this section of CNN S-U-C-K-S compared to the comments format on their regular stories.

      Let's start our own movement right here on CNN: one with just about as much sense as the rest of these goons.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      You said it right. These are goons and mobs. Companies may own a lot, but they earn it legally. It is not right to pull out CEOs and execute them and share the welth as communists would have done. What do the mob want? They want a job. Then ask the government to bring back manufacturing jobs. We have to go back to the roots to build our economy.
      Companies do this to make money. They always go through phases of consolidation and spin off when they become too big and inefficient to be profitable. Laws of capitalism will run its course. The faults are at our government selective bail out stuff that should have been down the toilet.... banks making bad bets, etc.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. George Patton

    This is good news indeed but these people are barking up the wrong tree so to speak. Until the priorities in Washington change, I mean all these unnecessary wars and the needless and excessive military spending by the Pentagon, very little will change for these people. Moreover, the Europeans need to rid themselves of these useless, amoral and self-serving bureaucrats who are currently leading their countries, ie; David Cameron, Angie Merkel and Nickolas Sarkozy. They can do better than this.

    October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      Hey – how the heck did the government get financial aid to go to war – you think all them politicians made a "DONATION",,,they used our taxpaying $$ and with the help of the banks!! Wake up!!!
      In turn they decided they'll go find weapons of mass destruction – make investments in the middle east – more oil more handouts for politicians and investors!!

      You donated your tax $$ and social security to fund the war – a financial war!!

      October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. karen

    I am about ready to join the protest groups-I just went on to my Bank of America on line banking and B of A refuses to let me onto my on-line banking unless I sign a new agreement which will includes a number of changes. One change is payments of non- B of A businesses i.e Comcast, utility bills etc. They will charge me $4.00 a month and in some instances as much as $15.00 a month to use their service. So in the mean time I have to notify several business to stop automatically take my out of my account – I would have appreciated them letting everyone know this was coming. Now they have made me mad!!! It will take me a while to change my pension and soc. sec. direct deposit and my home mortgage to someone else, but I will do it.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous010

      You'd do better with a small credit union if you can get into one. Many of them where I live have relatively lax requirements so it shouldn't be an issue to join one. Once you're in, what they offer varies depending on which one you join and where you live, but the one I belong to allows me to do online banking and automatic bill payment at no additional cost.

      Whatever you decide, the general rule of thumb I was taught growing up is that you get a better deal all around from credit unions than you do from banks, and from what I've read about BoA, Chase, and BB&T, that certainly seems to be true.

      October 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Klur

      Try ING direct- Free online banking and bill pay. Very convenient- very good customer service. You can easily link your savings-checking-investment accounts, etc..

      October 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      wonderful! do it. go to small local banks or credit unions. If the gov wont let these immoral banks fail, we will

      October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. glyder

    go ahead and join.the nazi party supports it.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Ah, Godwin's Law rears it's ugly head...

    October 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      As you can tell, the poster above you has already lost his argument.

      October 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SallinasPhil

    Neither the democrats or the republican­s really understand the Occupy Wall Street protestors­. Here's a little hint to all the politician­s. Are you listening? It's not just about wall street. It's about you!

    The corruption that big money brings to politics is taking control of our country. The politician­s on both sides better start thinking about ways to fix this. Otherwise, the mass uprisings will continue and the people will force the needed changes so we can get back to our core democratic principles­.

    Yes, the system is broken and we want change. At the heart of the problem are our politician­s who take bribes from big money lobbyists and their campaign contributo­rs. It's time to own up to the issue and fix it! You can start by overturning Citizens United. Next, make lobbying illegal. Now get to work before we throw you out!

    October 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • RTinKC

      At the heart of this is the uneducated public that think that we are a Democracy instead of a Republic. You are starting to see the frustration of the uneducated masses that have been driving this Republic to it's grave.

      ‚ÄúA democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.‚ÄĚ – Thomas Jefferson

      "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" Franklin, Benjamin

      "Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths... A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking." (James Madison, Federalist Papers, the McClean Edition, Federalist Paper #10, page 81, 1788)

      October 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. conoclast

    What the protests are really all about is disenfranchisement; if we-the-people thought for a minute that our grievances would actually be addressed in the halls of government then there would be no reason to take to the street, simple as that. We are in fact unheard and unheeded by our "governments", who now seem only to represent the money-interests and to view us with contempt!

    October 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • sparklepower

      I accidentally clicked on the "report abuse" button. Sorry! I would actually like to say that I agree with you! The protesters, wisely, are refusing to state specific policy demands. They know that as soon as they post ANYTHING (liberal or conservative!) the talking heads, the talk radio pundits, the CEOs, the politicians and the just plain ambitious and manipulative will get ahold of that information and twist it with rhetoric to tell the public what to think.

      The real issue is that the movement does not actually want to FORCE the public to agree or disagree with their opinions. They want the public to actually THINK for themselves and start taking initiative on the "little guy" level. They want people to quit turning to politicians or big business for solutions (because these two groups want to treat us the way they treat our natural resources- very badly!). They want people to force Washington to enact reform of the corruption in elections and the disgusting link between Wall Street and the two big parties. I honestly dont even care (well a little bit I do but not really) whether its "liberals" or "conservatives" who win. I want to see people who are not bought out by Wall Street in office!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. taskforce4256

    The solution is Cossacks. Seriously, what do you make of a group of people who scream:"We want jobs", then insult the very people who would give them jobs? Apparently, they want government jobs, therefore, a socialist state. They deserve all the abject misery that comes with it.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brownstain

    We're watching our country implode on 24/7 cable, yet we do nothing.
    Thank you prozac, and thanks to the drug companies who deliberately keep us docile, fat and happy.
    We will be the fodder of countless history classes eleswhere in the world, while we sit in our third world huts and eat dirt.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. paparazzinc dot com

    Rally around ONE demand...


    October 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ck1721

    I think most people are against greed, corporate welfare, and taxpayer funds being used to prop up ANY organization. Why then are people angry with the bailee's and not the bailers in Washington? None of this is possible without the collusion of those in Congress who pass laws specifically designed to help their special interests.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      because they are the same

      October 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. paparazzinc dot com

    One demand=power.

    –paparazzinc. c o m

    October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Geronimo, NYC

      Ha! Then what? Taliban rule? Go back to Pakistan and protest there.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. conoclast

    Still looking for that 'unified voice' are you, throwbacks? Still seeing 'nothing but hippie rabble', are you? Good for you; you've now taken a stand - and in doing so shown your own ignorant irrelevance. Everybody at these demonstrations knows precisely why they're there; THEY'VE KNOWN IT FOR 30 YEARS! If you like the fact that we are being economically herded like so many cattle into debt/wage slavery then by all means stay hunkered in your ivory towers!
    The rest of us have something to say about it!

    October 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eric

    Who is really surprised by this? The rich get away with murder and the middle and lower class pays. You know how you end this crap? Sentence one of those Wall Street criminals to death! That will end it for good.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daddio927

      Really??! Seriously? Death? What planet are you from? Put down the crack pipe and get a job.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. charlie

    I'll pay attention when the protests reach the middle of Africa and Bejing. Until then, these protests are nothing but hypocritical hot air, let off by lazy white people who want a good paying job that doesn't require effort.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Seems like you're already paying attention.

      October 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ck1721

      There's a nail out there with a tremendous headache thanks to you.

      October 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ftroy01

      Why dont you get off your lazy black punk a" and get a job. You are probably collecting welfare and on your mothers computer spewing that racial cr"

      October 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooklynRob

      I agree with Charlie. Life is tough and not everybody gets to take a trophy home. Work hard maybe start your own business etc. Don't sit around waiting for government hand outs ! That's not living !!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • common sense

      Youre talking about youre gonna wait til protests reach africa and beijing, why dont you start organizing them? We need less talk, more action. Talk is why we are in the situation we're in now. People, like you, sit behind their computers talking(typing) down to people who are actually looking out for your interests. I'm black, not lazy, owner of TWO businesses, so I dont fit your argument, I've occupied Wall Street, now im back in LA occupying there.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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