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. Neel

    When we are going to start 'occupy White house’,’ occupy Capitol’,’ occupy George bush's house' and 'occupy Clinton’s house' movements. They are the main conspirators.

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

      For Clinton just go up Manhattan to Numbers - the strip bar.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Nope. Need to Occupy Phil Gramm (R-Texas) house.

      It was the Gramm-Bliley-Leach Act that repealed Glass-Steagall. And it was Phil Gramm (R-Texas) that submitted that bill 14 times until finally in a veto-proof Republican Congress he managed to get it passed. And then they threatened that if Clinton didn't sign it they would block some of his legislation.

      The repeal of Glass-Steagall was the main cause for all the funny business that went on inside all these big banks.


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

      Whats the point? We arent trying to point fingers at who caused this mess... we want to know WHO IS GOING TO FIX IT?

      Americans voted for Obama because they wanted change, and its New Boss, same as the Old Boss.

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

      I learned the goals of this movement from the second speech of the 'end the feds' speaker.If anyone is at the pulse of this movement, it's him. In the second speech, he said, "I am a student of Austrian economics.I studied economists like Von Mises." Well, my bachelor's was in Sociology, and I thought those names sounded familiar. I typed them each into the internet. 'Austrian Economics' pulled up 'Austrian Economics and the Rise of Hitler' first thing. And von Mises "The Source of Hitler's Success" by Ludwig von Mises, and that's worth a read, because Hitler's campaign ran on the same complaints this one is running on, only on a smaller scale. If the movement were successful, you are right, they would surely evolve to occupying the White House, and into taking other people's goods by force. They might even evolve into executing those held responsible for their woes. If you don't believe me, visit the official livestream #OWS site and read live chat about their plans for a new world order.

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

    Michelle spent 500 k on that vacation to Africa– out tax money!!!

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

      First of all, what does this have to do with anything? Second, it's not true, but you knew that.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MANIE

    we live in a facist state. weather you believe it or not it does not matter. congress is paralized, the president cant do nothing, corporations are making billions in profits, because we the people are idiots and have been fooled. the point of no return has been reach. the only thing holding this massive crash of epic proportions is timing. if you think you have seen protests ... well you aint seen nothing yet. all those who bash the protesters by saying go find a job ... soon you will loose your job, your money in the bank will becoome useless because of bad capitalism that you love so much then what will you say ha? I wander???? maybe you will join the protest after you have lost everything but then it would be too late.

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

      Already toooooo late
      start chopping wood for the winter

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

      If the corporations are making billions, then I guess I should spend less on alcohol and spend more on stock certificates and collect those dividends !

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

      hahaha... brooklynRob thinks that companies still pay dividends. Know how I know you arent in the markets?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. brooklynRob

    I am looking forward to the inevitable South Park episode that will undoubtable cast these hipsters in a very negative light. The drums, the weed, defecating on police cars, rambling and incoherent demands. . . it's all really to much for the average person, but makes great humor !

    October 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cosmos42

      Yes, I'm sure that South Park, which relies on absurdist plots to make political points, will make a very good satire of these protesters that won't at all seem absurd.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EastValleyAZ

    Come on CNN, I think we in the US are the ones catching on to this movement. This movement has been been going on for months, if not years in Europe. I saw these protests in London, Paris and Barcelona this past spring.

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

      Such an utterly clueless post. The European protests of the past few years have been about anything BUT what these protests are about. They are actually protesting what the OWSers want us to BECOME. If the OWSers are successful in sliding us further down the Marxist continuum austerity measures are in our future...and then the protests will be REALLY fierce...

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

    For all the naysayers on this comment forum (and there are a lot) who are dismissing this group as a bunch of hippie, jobless losers take this into consideration: If you were jobless, couldn't find work, your government subsidies just ran out, you haven't had a significant raise in over 5 years or you are having trouble making ends meet, you would be at the protests as well. I have a decent job, make an ok living, but I totally agree with the "occupy" movement. I have worked my a$$ off only to see the money my company makes wasted on lame ad campaigns and bonuses for the upper crust while myself and coworkers were granted a whopping 2% increase in our salary.
    Wow, thanks for that Mr. CEO! That amounts to less than $60 a paycheck. I'll try not to spend it all in one place.
    The fact is the top 1% of this country now control the government and tilt the laws, tax codes, etc to their advantage. When their "business strategy" doesn't work, it's the taxpayers that get to bail them out and save their jobs while the rest of us lose ours, have our pay cut, have our hours cut, or don't see any significant raises or bonuses. I can only assume the naysayers are the top 1% that are posting negative comments. That or you all are naive enough to think that we actually still live in a democracy for the people.
    Democracy has been dead for at least 40 years. You have no say. I have no say. The financiers (oh, sorry, political donors) are totally in control and want us to somehow believe in the mirage of the "American Dream" where all is fair and the "free market" (nothing but a fable) allows the same chance for all to have unlimited success.
    So, keep drinking the Kool-aid naysayers! Enjoy the continued hijacking of our country by the rich, influential, and powerful

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

      still a bunch of Flea Baggers

      October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ProperVillain

      @frankie b: spoken like a true CEO and member of the top 1%. Now go back to your golf game and bury your head in the sand...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike Miller

    It goes back to We the People, elected officials better take huge pay cuts and get into the mess of Social Security too. They have it all and we know about it all. The news is neverending and the ruling class will be doomed if they don't heed these warnings now from all over this world. You ain't seen nothing yet!

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

      The ruling class needs to be ousted regardless of what congress does or doesn't do. They are the problem and need to be elected out and replaced with people who will ignore the barrage of professional bribers (oh, I mean lobbyists...) and do what is best for the populace. Sadly, I don't think this will happen. Short of a radical move by the government to make lobbying illegal (won't happen, too may perks and cash there for the members of the government) , we will continue a downhill slide and all end up as cogs in the corporate machine working so the rich can become richer...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Define doomed and ousted. Sounds like your planning a violent overthrow and perhaps a little murder?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cadet

    As A cadet at an Academy right now. I just want to let everyone who is participating in these protests to know that I'm there with you in spirit and i wish i was there with you in person. I support the movement 100% "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."-Samuel Adams.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. OMG

    capitalists = parasites.

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

      OWS = Flea Baggers

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

      so make everyone miserable because 75% of this country cant balance a check book or pay back a debt they agreed to? Sounds reasonable.

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

      If the capitalists go away, who will make, manufacture, and sell us our Ipads, Iphones, and other goodies? Oh nooo

      October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vincent Miller

    Bank bailouts were supposed to be justified by results: the paychecks of the wizards of Wall Street were acceptable, we were told, because of the wonderful things they did for main street. That wonderfulness failed to trickle down to the rest of the nation — and that was true even before the crisis. The current system is corrupt, we all know it. 16 out of 17 workers in New York are employed by nonfinancial industries. They have not seen any action from these "Job Creators". It is long past time something was done and the world in on our side

    October 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kerry

    Capitalism by itself is not bad. What is wrong is unregulated capitalism that allows people to cheat others of their money. Similarly, the theory of communism, like capitalism is utopian. The theories are benign. Unregulated excesses of Capitalism and Stalinist Communism are both examples of extremes that are bad to the extent they are evil and we cannot follow those examples in today's reality. A sound fiscal system at the government level, whether it is based on capitalism or socialism can only work if it is financed appropriately, namely there is enough revenue coming in to pay for services that citizens in each society require. When revenues need to be raised, unfortunately we must all sacrifice and accept tax increases and or scale down our wants and needs.

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

      That's right, every successful economy has been a hybrid. And I think the protesters are trying to bring us back into balance. It has swung too far towards free markets, unregulated banks, unlimited corporate campaign donations, no more unions, rolling back environmental laws that impact profit. These people wouldn't be here if the 1% just hadn't overdone it. If they could pay their mortgages, work crappy low paying jobs, they would just shut up and do it, but they can't anymore, and banks are STILL refusing to loan out (our money, which they got at less than 1% interest) to refinance troubled mortgages, and corporations are STILL offshoring jobs to China.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pimpson


    October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gabe

    Money has to be taken out of politics. The problem is it cost so much to get elected know that politicians need Wall Street and all other kind of money which makes them beholden to the interests that contributed to their campaign instead of the people who voted for them.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carm

    Get a job.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    The problem is everyone is stupid. Over 5 years ago, after getting hit with stupid fees, I took all of my money out of Citizens and into a local credit union. Its a shame it took all of you people 5 years and hitting rock bottom to think of doing the same. This is darwinism at its finest and unfortunately, the protesters are losing. And, they will continue to lose because they only do as they are told and dont think independently. How ironic.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      OK. So don't join the protest, and leave your money in a credit union. When the occupy movement makes headway and actually forces some policy reform, you can thank all the stupid people, or as you so cordially labeled us, "you people."

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