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. shishta

    25 countries, over 1500 cities. This is the beggining of the end for capitalism.

    Noun :An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit.

    Sounds like communism corporate style to me!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Corporate communism: privatize profits, socialize debt...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      25 countries, 1500 cities but how many PEOPLE?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • noway

      If you talking about corporations and big industry production yes. if your talking about private ownership by individuals no.
      However americans are not really practicing capitalism. IF you read the ten planks of the communist manifesto, it is pretty close to what is going on in mild and at times not so mild form of communism.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Relictus

      Tearing down is easy. Being "against" is easy. Maybe if they tried showing that sort of enthusiasm in their search for a job, they would not be protesting "the system". The "End of Capitalism"? You had best hope not ... because none of those protestors has an alternative to our free market system.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Angie

    Oh my gosh! These people are the brats we baby boomers created! Get a job, get a clue, get a life! If you are unhappy because your parents divorce left you without cable, get over it!

    Some of the comments of these people are just unbelievable! If you have time to camp like a bum on Wall Street for several weeks, you can bet you have no productive suggestions for how to make this country better....I don't have time to read all of this whining and gnashing of teeth over big, bad business! I AM AT WORK! Why are we giving any attention to these lazy people who are lobbying the government to take more of my hard-earned money while they sit on their butts being victims? Sad and disgusting!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      I have a job, support capitalism, AND support these protests... In this current economic climate, your "opportunity is everywhere" argument is tired and uninformed. We are arguing against consolidated wealth and opportunity...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Good for you, boyscout! SOMEBODY has to work while the cookie continues to crumble, huh! You stay hunkered there in your ivory tower - and fer godsake don't come into actual contact with those with whom you so pointedly disagree; some sense of justice might rub off on you! You are a poster-child STOOGE.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willa

      Clueless? or wallstreet shill? Get back to work your boss maybe watching!!!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony Greene

      Amen Angie! They (the protesters) are loosing their free handouts,so they take to the streets and cry like little babies throwing a temper tantrum.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. noway

    99 percent communist.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      100% fear mongering

      October 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. conoclast

    Seems we've been wrong about the republicans: what we'd previously thought was their lack of concern for the middle class is in fact outright contempt for it!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. minnie

    Obama is the evil one. So now it's known that within a week after the ignorant, wanna-be socialist vermin took over the park in New York, the feds (Obama) gave the owners of that park 169 million loan for their already profitable wind farm in NH. Add that Bloomberg's girlfriend sits on the board of the park's owners (Brookfield Prop. Mgmt.) That's why Bloomberg cowered on clean-up day and told the protesters they could stay as long as they wanted. And permits? Don't worry about it! No need.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Susan

    So...how do you hope to change a basic tenant of capitalism–that you can take advantage of your luck and just get richer and richer with no bounds? Some degree of socialism in the United States seemed to me a good answer but this country seems more intent on freeking-out at the thought. So...how about capitalism with a cap? No bonuses... And if you are single or a corporation you give away your filthy excess to repairing the infrastructure and creating jobs either in your own business or in other businesses in your country with no strings attached–no tax write-offs.

    In the United States at least in my local since the Republican Party is so conservative and out of control and causing so much damage to our political system I suggest and support all recall efforts and won't consider voting for any politician who is filthy rich. We need to draw the pendulum back to 'middle-of-the-road'; we need to put people in jail who have ruined our lives; we need to reinforce the separation of Church and State and get God out of politics and everyday life and education. Historically the United States' most important products to the world have been freedom, research, and development. We have now lost all three to capitalist free enterprise greed. And as we fail and fall where will that lead the world?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • skinsfan

      Susan, why to you want to change what has made this the greatest country in history. It is the ability of an individual to excell and make as much money as they can that give people the insentive to rish their own money and make it big. Why do you want to take what someone has worked and risked their own money to build and give it to someone who chooses not to.
      This is the Land OF Oportunity not the Land of EQUAL Outcome. You have to work for what you get.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • skinsfan

      Susan, do you know what year this is. You lib friends controled the congress and thereby the purse strings for the last 2 years Bush was president and for the first 2 years of Obama. They did such a bad job that We The People (better know as the electorate) took part of that control away from them. And God willing they will take the other half and the white house away next year. Obama and the lib congress has ruined this countyies economy, not the Rep.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Petey

    Protesters smell like urine.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike


    October 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony Greene

      tax the lazy sponge free loaders

      October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ajgorm

    They took us over without firing a shot . <---TO THE RIGHT

    October 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RillyKewl

    Wall St created the credit default swaps + the short-sells betting against them. Followed-up with bail-outs of the too-big-to-fail banks + AIG. Followed by record bonuses. That created the greatest wealth gap the US has seen in 60 years.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.

    Occupy Wall Street

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jim970

    More and more the Occupy Space, Waste Oxygen movement looks socialist/communist.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ajgorm

    com -rade.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kevin

    Im confused. People voluntarily use these big business that they are protesting. Also, no one made anyone go to college. If you took out student loans, its not the banks job to find you a job. Im just confused as it seems like this is one big protest full of jealously and people trying to renege on deals that they AGREED to. This is like eating a meal at a five star restaurant and refusing to pay because the restaurant wont drive you home after you got too drunk to drive. We can only protect the stupid for so long (we've done a fine job of it since WW2), and if these protesters win, we will be protecting the stupid forever.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      If people have a range of bad options, they can't be blamed for picking one. "Pay a fortune for a college degree to have a marginal shot at repaying it and making a decent living" vs "try to get a nonexistent factory job" is no kind of choice.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mr. Smith

    Support corporations that are good global citizens, who's goods or services serve the people, that follow sustainable practices and fair trade. There is a place for big and small alike if they play fair.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Steve Jobs was one of this "1%" and everyone dang near pooped their pants when he died. Why does Apple (who have their own detective service) get rockstar treatment? Ohhh because hippies and hipsters NEED their iPads when properly protesting. What a bunch of clowns.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie


      Steve Jobs company provided goods that everyone was happy with and didn't rip off anyone like the banks did.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
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