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%"

Post by:
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. Mychaeltodd

    I just don't understand how people don't get it! Student's are graduating with degree's and their are no job's to accommondate that degree, so they move back home, the parent's are out of work, the home goe's into foreclousure and they end up homeless- and the rich keep getting rich with excellent healthcare-paying some or no taxes, the middle class get's food stamp's, no health coverage, and their children go to war and die for Wall Street greed- but it's okay for a CEO to get a raise and make $400 to our $1 dollar an hour- Oh and GOD forbid you not wave the America flag! Congress is constantly talking about: "We don't want to leave this debt for our grandchildren" hell they don't even visit their children and they have none in the war, people stop falling for the fake & phoney jive these rich politicians keep feeding you, they only care about themselves and their own family, not YOU or ME!.....this country is stuck on stupid, I hope we have a civil war and the south, north, east & west rise up to GREED. President Obama you wanted to be president and so be it, you better get ready to answer to a new crowd- your rich also.

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

      So, what you're saying is that you don't like rich people. All rich people are bad because they made money and you didn't. And now you want to have a war. Seems rational.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      why dont you move and find work? People have been doing it since caveman times.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      I think lots of kids that graduate move in with their parents becuase they are scared of the real world and act like there isn't any work out there. There is work, but the kid with the marketing degree isn't humble enough to go become a carpenter.

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

      jimbo – i am a recent graduate with a marketing degree and luckily was able to find a good job but it isnt about being humble and becoming a carpenter. a carpenter isnt paying the bills and loans. i had no problem with looking outside of my field for a job because i just needed money but they arent going to pay me enough and i still live with my parents and pay for everything else. i was not scared of the real world either. stop making the recent grads look like terrible people because we arent but we deserve to have the same great prospects of jobs and success that you had when you graduated. until you are in our shoes and see the real frustrations stop generalizing all of us

      October 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo

      gggg- I'm a recent graduate myself and I too found a decent job luckily. I have multiple friends that are exacly what I described above, they are still my friends but I know they are lazy. I'm sure you know they people I speak of also if you are a just out of school, lets not generalize and say we are surrounded by hardworkers in thier 20s it's just not the case.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jay

    1) Campaign Finance Reform. Take corporate, special interest money out of the system. Household contributions up to $1,000 max.

    2) Term Limits. 2 terms that's it. No career politicians.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RillyKewl

    Repeal Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Tell your representatives today.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rich

    I, for one, welcome the end of capitalism. I have a job, I make decent money, I am not a bum with my hand out. I believe in fairness, something that many have lost sight of.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      yea but your stupid– end capitalism????

      October 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Let's see if we can make this simple... Capitalism good... Corporatism bad...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Down with capitalism!! We need a new form of government where everyone is treated the same regardless of contribution. You’re a doctor and I’m a window washer, we should be paid the same!! We need some sort of communal government… If only there was a name for it?!?!?!?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Back to feudalism? Or how about Socialism....then everyone can be equally as miserable!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • techie

      stop buying drugs and buy the corporate stock. You get enough people on board and you can win the proxy vote. Reform the corporations from the inside... oh wait you have to: 1. stop buying drugs first...a no-go right out of the gate..2. Get a job, looking worse and worse, 3. Be responsible (ahhh he used the "R" word) and 4. Develop and cordinate an action plan....DOOM.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Yes, it's all misery. Of course, plenty of countries are doing well under a more socialistic model, but what do they know, right? Clearly we're winning the most awesome form of government race. Right? We must be if China loves us so much they own half the country.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Socialism

      Capitalism gave you the job you enjoy. My wife comes from a socialist country. She agrees that socialism promises "equal distribution of wealth." The leaders do in fact take away from the wealthy. But, they keep it for themselves and maybe through a bone to the poor. The end result is that the poor remain poor, the rich just change names, and everybody looses their right to free speech, freedom of beliefs, etc. I think you should reconsider.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ajgorm

    free trade ? nothing is ever free unless you fight for it.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Edna

    This movement will get nothing done.

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

      I thought the same thing, until it started going nationwide, then global.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Socialism

      No matter how global it goes, it will burn out in a short while

      October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Peggy

    the occupiers epitomize greed and will never recognize that in themselves.

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

      I agree with Peggy.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kendo23

      Care to elaborate on your one-liner Peggy? If you feel you have a valid point, by all means back it up with an explanation. Don't leave me guessing. Enlighten me. How do the occupiers epitomize greed exactly?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Socialism

      @Kendo23 – the older you get, the more you realize that almost everyone is greedy.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Emily Pike

    While I appreciate the fact that CNN is finally covering the movement, I am curious as to why it is being covered around the world, but where is the article that shows how many thousands showed up for protests in the US, from Chicago to Phoenix, from Cleveland to St. Paul, from Tulsa to Sacramento, and many, many more..STOP THE MEDIA BLACKOUT AND COVER THE NEWS!

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

      FINALLY? It's only been splattered all over their homepage for a month! They have created this "protest"...24 people in Jakarta? Is that really newsworthy? 300 in Tokyo? SERIOUSLY?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Socialism

      @TCP – good point. I think CNN has definitely taken sides along with a big portion of the socialist media. They really know how to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Knowing this, I feel certain this movement will fade away and the "occupiers" will one day feel ashamed of how immature/naive they are.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark Bernadiner

    OWS is a gang of freeloaders and lazy idiots who enjoy endless vacation and lavish life using other people money, free food etc. They have no proper and any education in the economics and only know how extort other people money. They are dangerous, LA branch shows that they are Nazi style racists who must be jailed forever.

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

      ows= flea baggers

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

      you sound like an idiot and clearly have no idea the actual state of this nation. people like you are part of the problem not being able to actually see the problems the citizens of this country have. these people are on vacation on other peoples money?? first of all they are there because there is no money and secondly if they had other peoples money why would they be there in the first place. take your head out of your ass and realize that you know nothing about the problems people are facing and why they are taking a stand for change.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. seter16

    And yet people will still vote Republican. They'll never learn....

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

      I'm a liberal who will vote conservative just because of these protesters. They scare me waaaaaay more than any "evil" corporation that employs my friends, families and neighbors.

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

    The Marxist are out in force, too bad they conveniently choose to ignore how horribly that works out every time it is tried.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      they are too stupid to know better
      flea baggers

      October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marty

    read this: Intelligence Czar Can Waive SEC Rules
    Nowthe White House's top spymaster can cite national security to exempt businesses from reporting requirements

    October 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      signed in May 2006

      Business Week Bloomberg

      very strange

      October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ajgorm

    What are we going to have gangs of baton weilding brown suits chasing us down so to appease the liberal biased in this country.. Maybe we can drink kool aid too.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jimbo

    I bet most of these people were for the bailouts when it happened...it was the libertarians that were against it and the liberals praised the idea. Now they see that the bailouts did nothing, they money went into some fat cat's pocket and will probably be giving campaign contributions to the senators and congressmen that supported the idea. The libertarians were saying this all along but the left supported the idea and made it happen now they are the ones complaining. Maybe if they could have used their brains and seen what was obviously going to happen they would have said "NO" but instead they just went along like the sheep they are.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Petey

    If you have the time to protest, you have the time to actually contribute to really helping people. If you have the time to protest, then you are neither suffering nearly as badly as a lot of others, nor are you doing a single thing that will make their lives better. In short, if you have time to protest, you are part of the problem. You are no better than the rich people you claim to be against. In fact you are exactly the same. You are evil coated in a slimy film of hypocrisy.

    You may not be THE 1%, but you're SOMEBODY ELSE'S 1%. So please stop telling TV camera how much you "care" and put your time where your mouth is. And if you're not willing to do that, please shut up.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40