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. xnay

    They need to go home.

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

      they need to take a bath- bunch of flea baggers

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

      No they need to stay and change the way the world does business.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. the American dream

    What is the American dream? Is it to get stinking rich? Or is it to make a good living? And shouldn't the American dream be available to all Americans?

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

      life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. Youre not guaranteed the American Dream, just a level playing field. And, if a half-African from Hawaii can become the leader of the free world, then I would like to think that the system is doing just fine in that regards.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      The American Dream is whatever I choose it to be for MYSELF within laws and regulations set by societal norms and a representative government. If I go outside those rules and regulations I MUST be expected to pay the price. If you are not achieving YOUR American Dream or if YOU are allowing someone else to tell you what it should or shouldn't be, that is YOUR fault.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • the American dream

      @Kevin, those are good points and I certainly agree America has many strengths and good qualities. Let us even agree about a level-playing field because I think that's really at the heart of the matter. Is it fair for all? Yes, Obama is a great success story. But is their also significant unfairness? What about men like Soros who get filthy rich making money when the stock market goes down? What about big companies that have the money to lobby politicians and get laws that protect them? Is it fair that a CEO makes 20 million plus untold bonuses and stock options, buys multiple yachts, when their own employees make $8 an hour (or less if outsourced overseas)?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • the American dream

      @tcp, what if you have your own dream and it is to simply have a good living and you try to do it through the rules society sets, but then you see rich people with the power to bend and even lobby to change the rules so it suits them while you are unable to attain your dream?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. frankie b

    it is but many do not have what it takes
    That is life under a bell shaped curve

    October 17, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Basically, the protestors are maching because they want to government to take somthing away form someone who earned it and give it to them (the protestors / or people like them) If you are ok with the fairness questions associated with that – ask yourself what you will do when the producers of the world decide that the surplus that they can generate (after paying for all the handouts for non-producers) are just not worth the effort? What will you do if they stop prodcing surpluses that allow you to consume more than you produce? Will you enslave them to produce for you? Once there is nothing left to take from them will you sit there with you hand out waiting for someone to feed you or waiting to starve? Will you start to produce for yourself? These protestors are a real danger – across the world nonperformers demanding the unearned, demanding that they have a right to strip another person of the benefits of his productivity. This is only sustainable if the "other" keeps producing. What is going to happen when he decides not to produce for you any longer?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      "take away from those who earned it", it is amazing that someone can steal from you and you actually root for them. Please try and look more than move step in front of you and realize it's not as simple as that. If you have the ability to change the rules in order to suit your needs, did you earn it? Take a look around you at all the major industries, banking, insurance, food, etc. Change the rules to suit yourself to knock out everyone else. What is the long-term end game of that?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ryan

    The American dream for some is to get stinking rich, and to some it's to watch their children grow up healthy and then retire and take a cruise every couple months.

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

    It cant be any other way. "ONE"..Freedom is a dream. We are running out of resources and our populations are growing as global warming limits our choices we must consolidate and conserve or we will face too many uncertainties..One stop shopping to one stop banking all roads will lead to Rome in the end as we conserve our oil and oceans and air....

    October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Enrique

    What I can not understand is why CNN doesn't mention in its article "Occupy movement goes global..." that the protest movement was born May 15th. in Madrid with the "Indignados". From Spain the protest spread to other countries in Europe, where is alive still today and, only after that, people in New York went to the streets with their "Occupy Wall Street". The omission is incredible because CNN itself was covering the "Indignados" protest, directly from Madrid and other european capitals from the first day.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. That's large Government

    Keep following Obama's crazy policies and we all will be speaking Chinesse soon. Wake up America! Get a job. Get off the welfare programs. Earn your pay. Get rid of the Unions. Make the USA strong again!

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

      agree !!!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Larry Smith

    Capitalism=private property of individuals. Socialism/Communism=all or most property owned by the state or the government. Capitalism=Freedom (ability to succeed or fail based on efforts). Socialism/communism=no freedom abusive government. Unfortunately America, which was originally free and practiced true capitalism in its pure form was overtaken by socialists many years ago, which have ruined the free market system. In a true free market system taxes are low and prosperity high. Allowing people choose their lifestyle and their success level.

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

    Get ready for the world war because they are going to start shooting us down. You may find yourself organized into small survival groups to stay alive. Invest in body armor, helmets, etc. to increase chances of survival.

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

      good advice

      October 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rodrigo Ferreira

    Even in Sao Paulo, Brazil this movement happened last saturday, it was made by participants through relationship website facebook (see link below) and its so important people finally woke up.


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

    Wow, that's a LOT of idiots. And deadbeats.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Roger Garrett

    Capitalism does amazing things. Most of them amazingly good. A few of them amazingly bad. It's the PEOPLE who do the bad things and the RULES that allow them to do the bad things that should be the object of our wrath, not capitalism itself.

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

    Occupy shows a bunch of children who don't want to work and want everything handed to them.

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

      at least they can afford the 3k a month rent in NYC to NOT EVEN USE THEIR APARTMENTS.

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


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