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."

RekyjavĂ­k, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in RekyjavĂ­k, 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. CarlosinTx

    U.S. Declaration of Independence II
    But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
    It is time for the next phase in this "great experiment."

    October 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • cope

      I am amazed that sensible people do not see this as ridiculous. I WILL NOT SHARE MY MONEY WITH SOME LUDICROUS FOOL THAT WILL NOT WORK FOR HIS/HER MONEY....... TRY IT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Poor Cope... we're talking about being fed up with greed, corruption, and consolidated wealth, and you think people want to steal from you... you've bought into the right wing fear mongering...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • chaffcutter

      naive and brain washed Americans will never understand, in free market economy, money never vanishes in thin air, loss of one is gain of another, it is just like in betting shops, these criminals not only place heavy bets with people money. but they also have stakes in the shops, they also get 2-5% commission for placing bets it is win win all the way. all the looted money is then juggled into their other pockets i.e. banks in tax heavens and ISRAEL., their friends like Bernanke and GEithner are ready with more cash to continue this loot.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      Our Government feeds Wall Street corruption and not the other way around. The sooner people realize this the better. The rest of the world would be happy to un-seat the USA as a Global Economic Superpower. This is not news.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • WoI Admin

      Cope, there are 14 million unemployed Americans competing for 100,000 new jobs created every month.

      People WANT to work – it is the investment infrastructure that is failing them by not creating enough jobs.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Americans are utterly confused.
      They demand freedoms as citizens but throw it all out the door when they report to work everyday. Democratic reform in all workplaces should be mandated . If Employees had equal say, no Executive or manager would take home an excessive bonus at the expense of the common employee's salaries or job security . Corporations are mainly perverse systems built on greed and exploit and need to be reformed or disbanded completely.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mao tse dong

    the Chinese feel vindicated.. Communism rocks

    October 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      And you must think Mexico's economy is awesome... Viva consolidated wealth!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard


      October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nick O Laas

    Candidates have to please two parties. The 1% and the 99%. Those who fund their campaigns and those who are going to vote for them. What chance do we have, honestly.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. YOU have no skills, dewd

    Like other Tea morons you have no skills or perspective on anything useful or real. Repugnants never learn until the knock is on their doorstep. May you reaply rich the harvest you plant.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. Smith

    All these protesters are wrong. Trickle-down economics will work if we just let the millionaires get even richer. The richer they are the better off we all are. And if you believe that I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      It actually would work indeed, if Government backed off.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • leelanau

      You're right......rather we need to trickle everything through the do-nothing, know-it-all punks trying to intimidate their way into political relevance. ROFLMAO at the tragedy that is your ignorance.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tcp

    "Occupy protests spread to Tokyo"! A city of 19+ MILLION people and how many demonstrators? About two HUNDRED. If this isn't evidence of left wing media manipulation I don't know what is...

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • leelanau


      October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CarlosinTx

    “The “GREATEST GENERATION” did not kill enough FASCISTS, they are alive and well and breeding on Wall St. We will help finish the job.
    The Police are protecting the wrong side of history.
    Get with the program “officers of the law.”

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      So you want to kill the actual hand that feeds you? So destroy the rich? Who is then going to pay for you?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveinCincy

      We're all dumber having read your post. It must hurt to be that stupid...but I"m sure you numb your pain with lot's and lot's of pot. Degenerate's...up up and away!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JJ

    Occupy Wall Street did not started in the U.S. ... Spain has had a very similar movement (15M or Indignados)that started in May by occupying Plaza Sol in Madrid. I don't know if that is where it started, but it certainly did not started in the U.S.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      The braindead child notion of Occupy Wall Street started from an anarchist foundation, whatever you term it, in Canada, Adbusters.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ernest

    The "Occupy .." movement did not start in NYC, as it reads here. It started by February in Madrid (the "indignados"), that in turn had followed the Arab Spring of Tunisia and Egypt.

    In any case the "Ocuppy" will not last beyond the first 20below night in December, these kids do not have faced a real dictatorship (or any REAL hardship), and they will come back to momma ....

    October 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beatriz

      CNN should check the facts before posting news. Started in Spain not the USA. Why are claiming to be the ones who started? Do they want the credit too???

      October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Richard

    My wife and I live on 380K-420k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars.. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our BMW's is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. Not sure what its like to protest, other then a quick glace from a towncar, but it doesnt really look like fun, esp when it rains. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      You think 380 – 420K is an "okay" income? You, my friend, are as ignorant as they come.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      you are correct, Richard. People need to get off of their backends and their could earn more money. I agree.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • seter16

      Ummm you CHOOSE to have high expenses!!! Some people have to CHOOSE whether or not to pay their heating bill or EAT....you are a prime example of how blind people are.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      Hey Richard (or shall I call you "Dick") – It's not about working "hard" or no working hard. It's about the 1% in control of the money from the 99%, gambling with it, just to make even more $. How much is enough $? Answer: No limit. That's what drives the greed, from your Towncar or whatever. You could lose your job tomorrow and find yourself trying to sell your cars, house, etc to raise enough cash to get by IF the next job would come along, IF. Until then,m would that make you lazy?

      October 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |

    OK, Here Is our List of Demands:

    Legalize Marijuana
    Bring down the world banking system.
    Public-subsidized Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream for all
    Legalize Marijuana


    October 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. martin2176

    where was citizen's fiscal responsibility when they went and bought cars, suvs, boats, atvs and houses they can not afford..spending more than what you earn. blame it all on government and corporates..it doesn't take away each of your's responsibility

    October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ajgorm

    Without capitalists who would lead the liberal sheep another liberal perhaps. Madness.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. us1776

    Victory is a level playing field where middle-class and rich incomes rise by the same percentage.

    Victory is fraud and corruption out of Wall Street.

    Victory is fraud and corruption out of Washington.

    Victory is American companies creating jobs for Americans.

    Victory is universal healthcare for all citizens.

    Victory is affordable education for all citizens.

    Victory is sustainable social safety net – the hallmark of every civilized country.

    Victory is a country where all classes work together to build the nation and not just their wallets.


    October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      And Never Never Land is the 2nd star to the right and straight on till morning.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hinterarsch

    Like so many other things, this problem with excess profits on Wall Street and corporate profits is the direct result of actions taken by Americans. It is America which is causing problems all over the workld, it is America which starts wars and claims it is for the purpose of Democracy. So, can we blame those who are fed up with AmericaN HIPOCRACY?? It is sickening how to see how America is lying and corrupting the rest of the world. So, I salute those who seek to demonstrate and resist this bigotry and corrupt American culture.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Greed is not an American concept.

      This fraud and corruption is going on all over the world by the wealthy elite.


      October 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
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