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. Slim

    Corporations are no angels but the people at the protests and in general should look at themselves in the mirror if they want to see the problem. They vote for the politician that promises the most until its unsutainable. It is now unsustainable and so everyone is looking for the scapegoat. I agree with Jay...term limits, special interests out of the system and I would add a flat tax to keep people motivated.

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

      the driving force in capitalism is greed. and the greedy 1% will still be greedy no matter what we tax them. they will just find new ways of passing the buck along to the consumers. just look at bank of America or Citibank bank

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

      You missed the only part that really matters – Stop allowing money to control politics. Simple

      October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rave0n

    "They're unorganized, lazy, and have no agenda!! Except that thy're highly motivated to promote communism and end capitalism!!!" The double talk from the demonizing idiots is pretty funny...

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

      im highly motivated to play video games and do drugs. Does that make me a productive member of society since I am "motivated"?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Maybe, if you write video game reviews...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • scottosky

      Get back to work, or hit the highway. Posting comments on our dime is not your right.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      It's idiotic that you can generalize so easily... educate yourself and start questioning things, and quickly you'll find there are some serious problems with our country. And let's get something straight, these people do not want to end democracy. They want to end the corruption in this country and YES Obama is included in this. So stop generalizing, it's not a left versus right, or that they're against capitalism. People are angry and they should be, because Bush/Obama did the most socialist thing you can do by bailing these big banks out. In a democratic society, if your business fails, it's fails, and that's it. Is that what democracy so great? But we live in a crony capitalism society now a days and things need to change or the gap between the wealthy and the poor will become even larger than it is now... So seriously do your homework and stop just assuming that these "people" are lazy. how can you say that when they're the ones who are out on the streets fighting for something? And they're are not all hippies.... they're teachers, mothers, union workers, social workers, it's what we used to call our MIDDLE CLASS.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |

    its funny how people are against this movement. while yes it gets bad press because of the hippies, but if it was just lazy hippies it would not have gone global. any one that is against this really does not know whats been going on around the world because of capitalism. i think a lot of negative opinions stem from the fact that they were not yet affected by whats happening, if they still get the small paycheck at the end of the week there must not be a global problem.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Show me the "bad press". Most of the coverage (this story included) portays these "protesters" as media darlings.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. capitalism_will_go_way_of_dodo

    capitalism with a bunch of greedy rich people running the show and controlling politicians and influencing elections is tyranny.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      please increase your haldol dose and move to Cuba

      October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • spottinglies

      baloney. There is nothing wrong with capitalism. The problem is that those with the money control the gov't too.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slim

      What would motivate people to work hard if they are not rewarded for it? Why do you think sales people work on comission versus a flat salary? It seems capitalism is on the rise...look at Russia and China.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Byrd

      Cuba's better than the sh%thole you and yours have created.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ajgorm

    The Awakening is upon us !

    October 17, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      lordy lordy u b crazy

      October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bannister

    Free Market Capitalism is the greatest system ever devised by man – it feeds, houses and clothes millions and it's the fairest of all economic systems. It has liberated mankind.

    Communism is the exact opposite – a "monopoly system" that is controlled by an elite few (the 1%). The 1% elites who run the banks are now dismantling capitalism and introducing global socialism, a system they wanted all along. And the people are falling for it!

    Interesting fact: 90% of all campaign contributions from Wall Street executives went to Obama. Why? Obama's entire administration is RUN by former Wall St executives – coincidence? The majority of the Occupy protesters do not understand they are being tricked from the top down. Capitalism is not the problem, it is the SOLUTION. Only a return to TRUE Free Market Capitalism (and an END to the Federal Reserve system) will free the 99%. Let's hope they eventually figure it out.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Agree. True capitalism and conservatism have pretty much disappeared...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • A.H.

      I'd suggest you read up on your communist manifesto. Marx did NOT call for 1 man or the %1 to rule the country. Communism was exploited by evil people and has ever since put a terrible name on it.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. spottinglies

    The problem isn't the 1% control most of the wealth. The problem is that they also control the politicians as well.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cellblock131

    Capitalism is not the problem...GREED is the problem.

    Also, in a country with socialized healthcare, it is survival of the fittest. I hope you don't get cancer.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. david

    these are losers people that are to dumb to get a job at home depot greeting people they are that dumb i an 57 and have had a job all my life were are these ass wipes parents oh working so they can feed their families,,,i wish some one would just state shooting these worthless pieces of obama shi t

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

      dont hate these people for expressing there opinion! just because you haven't been affected yet by the problems gripping our world does not mean they are not there, it just means you can stick your head back in the sand for a little longer

      October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      A man that doesn't even know how to use a comma probably shouldn't be commenting on other people's intelligence.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mohammed kurdy

      ToDavid I just read our post your telling me cause people are working in home depot and mc Donalds their not educated . It seems to me that by your lack of your typing and mindset maybe your the one that should take your head out of your butt . also it's not president obama's fault that where in this Crises .it's probably people like you that run these big corporations into the ground and ask the government for a bailout . Question what's bigger 99%or one percent ? The reason I am asking is cause that money that big companies keep taking is not all theirs it's the ladies and gentlemens that get up early in the morning and comes home late at night so they can just make ends meat .if you cannot understand than I guess you are the one percent who will never understand .

      October 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Byrd

    The 99% re going to need garbage collectors and other sanitation workers. The 1% should do just fine since most have never actually worked a single day in all of their miserable lives. This should be a new experience for them. Let's see how they fare on minimum wage and welfare, without complaining, no less.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amanda

    If you aren't angry, you aren't paying attention.

    A Congress approved audit of the Fed showed that the Fed gave $16,000,000,000,000.00 (16 Trillon) to banks to bail them out without any plan of repayment at 0% interest.


    Angry now?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Because if this bank goes under, and they own your house....then it gets sold in an auction whether you like it or not....Or better yet, me and my friends can come with shotguns and take it. Maybe THATS WHY they were bailed out 🙂

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

      Banks are corrupt and steal the money from people who think that Banks are their friend. It took me almost a lifetime to realize that but now I am taking all my money out of banks and deposit it in Credit Unions. It is the banks fault and tehy need to be punished. I hope millions of savers will withdraw their savings and deposit it in Credit Unions.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      The government should NOT be in the business of bailing out private industry Kevin... go back to your drugs and video games...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mohammed kurdy

    Okay where do start ? I know people all around the globe are feeling frustrated . They can't afford the way of it used to be . Where losing jobs ,homes, cars,and houses .our government is helping out the ones who gave us credit knowing we cannot afford it ,and go figure what the government did was bailout the banks and not give the money to the people so they can afford to keep their jobs,houses ,cars ,most importantly their way of life .where is the american dream now work until you drop dead .their will be no social security ,or pensions when we retire .one question to the president if you bail out banks and corporations the ones who put us in this mess do you bail out them or do you bail out the working class ? If you bail out the banks and coporations then we will never be able to have the American dream as we did before.with that being said we already tried giving money to the banks and cpoorate america it did not work .can you try giving the money back to the American people by giving money to small businesses to create jobs give money to big corporations tell them it's for hireing only. if neither of them do this give them the highest pennalty the law allows, like robbing a bank is like ten to fifteen years in prison .

    October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SaintM

    Why is that Megalomaniac idiot Julian Assange speaking at Occupy London? What a joke. This whole movement is nothing but a joke, with their free food, Woodstock like atmosphere, loud talk and misspelled signs. If they were actually fighting for change, and not staging a "music festival", maybe I'd take them seriously.

    As for the participants, just sitting in with signs are not going to change anything. Instead, put your energy into campaigning for a house respresentative that you believe will best represent your interests and work hard for them so they can unseat a current republican on election day 2012.

    As for the women–Stupid girls, get your clothes back on and go home. To everyone: start to look for a job-any job. I am slightly underemployed, but I show up at work everyday at a job I don't really like but it's better than the alternative. You people do nothing but sing, dance, eat and disrupt my commute. Your pathetic little "sit in" is nonsense and nobody really cares.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SafeInHisGrace

    These people are amazzing...rallying together for a great cause-to end corporate greed...we've had enough! I have a college degree, 20 yrs experience, but cant get a good job....I have $10,000.00 in student loans that I just cant pay down. Will the gov't forgive that loan??? No, but they'll keep borrowing into the trilllionsof $$$$$-with perhaps no REAL plans of ever paying it back!!! They're doing what ever they can to line their pockets, but dont give a crap about the middle man let alone the poorest of the nation...which I'm closer to than I'd like to admit!!! And Michele Obama is looking to buy a $28 million mansion!!!!! Where do I sign up????

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

      Can't get a job? Or refuse to accept a job below your station? Sounds to me like you cranked up 10K in debt and want someone else to pay for it...how does that make you any better than the "corporatocracy" these peopls are "protesting". I hope you don't vote for the current president in '12...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kweg Yung

    Corporate America's expansion into China was paid for by the American taxpayer. Bush's “tax cuts for the rich” policy helped to fund this transition. That's why no American jobs were created but a lot of Chinese jobs were. Republican politicians represent the corporate rich, the 'job creators'. When was the last time you saw a job created in the U.S.? The rich don't pay tax in this country and their corporations are physically based in communist China; where, by the way, SOCIALIZED healthcare and SOCIALIZED education are the norm and ALL the banks are state owned. These former American companies only pay tax in China, supporting a growing communist government and military. Republican politicians sold us (U.S.) out. These guys aren't batting for us (U.S.) anymore.

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