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. Kurt

    It's easier to change where you spend your money (corporations) than who takes your money (government). Why not stop spending your money at those corporations and protest against your government? How much money is taken and absolutely squandered? Why don't you have social security? The CEO's? No, your government chose to steal from it – they took it, then stole it. Mad because you don't have health care? The company you work for probably paid for it for at least you if not your family. Is this really the governments job? No, it's a perk you enjoy for working for a company.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nathan

    Wait, when did "end corporate greed" become "end capitalism?"

    October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      When the fear mongers told the people that's what these protests were really about... Oh, and communism, satanism, and cannibalism...

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

      They have been promoting socialism and anarchy from the start– but the biased media like CNN did not want to report it

      October 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. California Conservative

    Little hard to believe that so many people are falling for Soros tactics.

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

      So, I suppose you prefer the Koch brothers' tactics?

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

      Chase – Rather have a Koch than a soreA55 (Soros).

      October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. R. Glenn

    Considering everyone here is so against capitalism, I think your anger is misplaced. We haven't had capitalism in this country for many years. That was washed out during the 1800's. What we need is real capitalism, where bad banks and companies are allowed to fail without bailouts. Capitalism is the only real choice to grow a country. All others lead to control by a selected few. As of now, a select few may have alot of money, but you move to a different form of government, not only will you not be rich, but you will lose your freedom to make any choices regarding your life. Wake up, "Occupy" people, what you want leads to actual slavery or actual starvation.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      It's really a stretch to assume that all the protesters are against capitalism...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BobZemko

    All is shows is that there are whiners all over the globe who made bad financial assitance and want those of us who didn't to pay in some way.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      No, not really...

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

      Awwww...still sad that your little Tea Partay pails in comparison? Buck up little camper.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MANIE

    LOL to all these people bashing the protestors right to protest. I bet most of you work for someone... weather you work 40,60,80 hours, maybe 24 hours a day 7 day a week so you can become rich. what happens when that job goes away , and you cant find a job as quickly as you would like to, because both parties in our failed congress has managed to bankrupt the U.S by means of wars and cheap money..... people want to find work, but its becoming more scares and hard to do so. I am and Electrical Engineer and make decent money, but I protest because at the rate we are proceeding the money I make will be worthless. it won't be able to buy what it use to few years ago. Unless sound money is introduced in this screwed up money system. the ending aint gonna be pretty.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      my job went away and i found a new one. Didn't take me 99 weeks. Took me 2.

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

      I wouldn't blame corporations for not having a job. I would blame myself for not having the skills needed and then go out and get those skills. At the same time I would take anything that anyone would higher me for even fast food if I really had too. Anything is better then being tied to government for your life. Its like selling your soul to the devil IMO.

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

    Basically what these protesters are saying is: "Give us what you worked for". These are lazy bums that think the world owes them everything. Well the world owes you nothing. Get a job you slackers! I have a job and work my butt off to support myself. I dont want anyone to give me anything. The time these people spent protesting for weeks they could have found jobs or done something productive for society.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Milman

    what I make is nobody' business and I do not have to tell anyone. Only the IRS period. I got it through my work efforts and that is my issue only. I really do not care about these little weasels who have too much time on their hands, get a 8 dollar an hour job and work your way up and shut up. this is what america is about, if you want to be a loser so be it, but just becuase a large group of losers get together so what!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul Willson

    End the protest madness everywhere

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Letterpressman

    The problem is when all the workers are Mexican, that work for $7 per hour, and government doesn't nothing to remove them. Employers had NO reason to hire people at $10 an hour.
    Wake up, the more people you let come into your city that will work for nothing, brings the job market down.

    All you people are not that dumb! If Mexicans living in your city will work for less than it takes for an American they will be NO jobs for Americans are any wage!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian - Milwaukee

    Bobama's zombies gone wild... coming soon on DVD.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      Ever wonder, since you're clearly outnumbered, that maybe it's you who has it wrong? Maybe you should think about that.

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

    Someone please drive through west virginia and kentucky. As great as some things are I don't think people realize the number of rules created from EPA etc are killing jobs in a time we can't lose jobs. They have made numerous industries shut down. Did you also realize with the healthcare bill the federal government now owns all student loans which caused places like sallie mae to fire thousands of people.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AmINuts

    Why does this subject "Occupy" keep getting headlines on new sites? Everytime I see a story posted I go check out to see how many people are viewing it or are recommending it to people on Facebook or other site and its always a very low number compared to other story that are running at the time. People don't really care about a bunch of deadbeats without a job mad at the big bad evil corporations who make money while they don't. Just let the story die please its driving me nuts. More people are viewing the baby ran over in china then your top story about occupy.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guy Everingham

    Can CNN shed any light on the other developing story that the Arab Spring and Organize movements are the end result of the '21st Century Statecraft' campaign that that was birthed and nurtured by the U.S. State Department, some of America’s most well-known corporations, the U.S Labor movement and the global left.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Troubled_politics

    I can't believe that we haven't seen this coming for a long time. I got the opportunity to ask a CEO once what does one do when a company has been streamlined to the point that it cannot possibly make more profit. His answer was that you divide the company into segments, then sell those segments for profit to begin the next business venture. Capitalism works that way. I'm not being negative, just saying that is the way I see it. In this case, the way to make more profit is at the expense of the middle class after all of the streamlining has been finished. This started happening back in the 70's and has only gained momentum. No more middle class in the very near future, just an uber-wealthy class & their serfs.. This movement is going to get really ugly and I find it amazing we buy all of this rhetoric from the American news agencies (obviously, they have no agenda other than reporting the 'truth). Politicizing what is happening isn't going to make it any better and anyone who thinks this is about the difference between the GOP and the DNC has been smoking some really good stuff. America is in a whole lot of trouble. No energy policy, no forward-looking manufacturing policy, no investment policy back into the country, not much of a research policy, a failed educational system, and idiots who have bought into an ideology from one party or the other (from two parties that represent the most corrupt, bought government in modern history.) Rome did burn, people. I'm not going to march with them but I also don't find it suprising that this is happening. Maybe the Mayans were on to something..........

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