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. D

    Those screaming, "get a job" to those fighting injustice are missing the point. It's not about handouts and a free ride. It's about a level playing field. If the rich have the ability to change the rules to suit their needs, then it only spells disaster for everyone else. If you don't think this is happening, all you have to do is look at the gap between the rich and the middle class and the increased poverty levels around the world. This isn't because thousands of people around the world became lazy all of a sudden. It's because the wealthy, who have the power, not only have tweaked the system to benefit themselves, but have taken it to the point where they convinced those they are bleeding dry to actually root for them.

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

      Exactly, this is a real movement not that tea party nonsense!

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

      Exactly D, this is not about asking for a handout, is about finally waking up to the corruption in our system. The fact is our country is a much less humane and democratic place than it used to be just 30 years ago. This is due to the unfair influence on our politicians and judges that the rich and powerful buy with their campaign contributions. The last point you make is also a truly sad truth, that is, that many of the same people that are getting royally screwed, find it necessary to defend the screwers out of a sense of loyalty to the system and a failure to comprehend this reality. People in this country are taught, since early age, to foam at the mouth whenever they hear expressions like "wealth redistribution" but the fact is that wealth redistribution has been occurring in the upward direction for a very long time. Sometimes it sounds like if a lot of these people never talk to their parents who, if honest, would have to admit this used to be a much more just society until the "Great Communicator" started the war on the middle class in this country !!!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    What's the message?! They want their government back. The ruling elite brought the government in 1980 with election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan's cabinet consisted almost entirely of Wall St. elite. Since Reagan they've consolidated their stanglehold on the government by making politicians increasingly dependent on their money for elections. Every economic policy signed into law since 1980 have been to the detriment of middle class working American and in favor of the ruling elite. Citizen United was just the final nail in the coffin. Democracy is dead in America. Welcome to the United Facist States of America. We hope you enjoy your stay.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      Well put, Richard. Thank you.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeanne

      Unions and union money have taken over politics not the rich

      October 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeanne

      It is not the wealthy that have taken over government it is Unions and union money have taken over politics.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Jeanne, just a piece of the puzzle. It's doesn't have to be either or. It's both.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepinium

      Of course jeanne, and I suppose you think Corporations are people too, right?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pimpson


    October 17, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Timothy

    im not gonna sit here and say 'tax the rich' and 'boycott billionaires.' it is important to emphasize equality in this case: everybody needs to pay their fair share. though i might not necessarily agree, i understand the viewpoint that the rich should not be taxed at a higher rate than anybody else. what i DO have a huge problem with, are the multi-billion dollar corporations using loopholes to pay virtually nothing in taxes:

    Amazon: taxed on 4.33% of income
    Carnival Cruises: taxed on 1.12% of income
    HCP: taxed on 1.42% of income
    Western Digital: taxed on 1.60% of income

    Can somebody please explain how this is OK? Can somebody make me understand how the government allows stuff like this to keep happening? The country is losing billions and billions IN annual tax revenue because billionaire business owners DONT pay their fair share.


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

      its a loophole. Why dont u find one and exploit it? Instead, you just cry because someone beat you to the punch.

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

      It happened, because you are right – loop holes. Corps and people like Buffet Soros, etc. paid for those lope holes via PACs and Congressional votes. the way to stop is a fair/flat tax with no deductions. Everyone pays their fairshare and enough with all this.

      But do you buy online? Do you pay a sales tax? Or do you tell your state that you bought items online and didn't pay yoru local sales tax? So, there's your loop hole (at least for those who do it) Where I live you have to report that and I know many people laugh at me when I say that I do. And some of them are big fans of this Occupy. Hum, whose not paying their fair share? Clean you own house first before you tell others how to clean theirs!

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

    remember its their dream you are living NOT YOURS. you have are living the proud to be an american NIGHTMARE!!! Keep showing up at the crumbing low paying JOB!!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      not everyone can be doctors, CEOs and millionaires. Thats the beauty of this country and you are trying to take it away.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Go back to your drugs and video games Kevin... The protesters are against consolidated wealth and opportunity... You must think Mexico's economy is awesome....

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

      opportunity in this country is not consolidated. A half-African from Hawaii is our President. Plenty of friends from "the hood" are living the dream. It just seems like youd like to sit around on commenting boards as opposed to making real money. Yet, thats everyone elses problem and not yours.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Study the statistics... wealth and opportunity are BECOMING consolidated... We'd like to stop the train before it derails... Somehow it seems you refuse to believe that the unemployed and poor are anything but lazy...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      the unemployed are lazy. if it takes you 99 weeks to get a job, you don't deserve to be in this country. And, enough of this, "my degree was in boating, so I can only get a job that lets me ride boats in the Carribbean" all day. Worst comes to worst, you take that job at McDonalds til you find something better! Thats how I was raised! You people are all just too prissy to have a job with a low "social" status. And thats the problem.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nalda

    OWS is primarily an anti-capitalist/free market protest despite the press' effort to paint it as simply as venting "economic frustration". They would be better served going after our goverment not just wall sreet.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      wrong commie

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

    who started this? If Capitalism is bad...what do these morons have to replace it? Where is their big answer?????

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pimpson

    Occupy. Look at that word for a moment. That's a communist word. These are communists. And communism is a disease.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Why not? We're already "occupying" Iraq and Afghanistan.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chaffcutter

    As an independent financial advisor- naive and brain washed people will never understand, in a free market economy, money never vanishes in thin air, loss of one is gain of another, it is just like in betting shops.
    Criminals in wall street not only place heavy bets with people money. but they also have stakes in these betting shops, ( remember Goldman investing people money and also betting that investments wiil sink}, they also get 2-5% commission for placing bets it is win win all the way.
    All the looted money is then juggled into their other pockets i.e. banks in tax heavens,, their friends like King Bernanke and GEithner are ready with more cash to continue this loot.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. J in Denver

    Too many people scream about justice that do not understand it's meaning, too many people whine about someone else not paying their fair share when they in fact pay almost nothing themselves, and very few people understand what a "right" is.

    Rights are not given to you; rights are that which protect you from loss of what you already have. You need nothing but the means of communication you were born with to exercise your freedom of speech, nothing but your wits in an environment free of oppressive laws (mob rule) to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Healthcare is not a right, it requires that something be taken from someone else at their expense – their labor, their knowledge, their time. If they choose willingly to provide a SERVICE to you for free that is their right.

    If you expect handouts, if you allow the mob to control your fate you are nothing more than a slave dependent upon it's master for all.

    Do not blame the corporations – they are fulfilling their purpse. Instead blame Congress, blame lobbyists, blame the Federal Reserve. Go occupy Washington D.C. that is where the changes must occur.

    Search Youtube for "The Money Masters – Full" open your eyes to the root cause.

    p.s. please learn to clean up after yourselves.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ajgorm

    this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius–Welcome to THE NEW WORLD ORDER ! NWO ! (no way out ) The Awakening ! read more..

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

      Wow I did not know people still used LSD

      October 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sid Boxman

    Enough with the banks. How many of you have Credit Cards, student loans, mortgages, car loans, etc. Thank a banker. Bank of America is due to retailers not wanting to pay the fee anymore for bringing customers in to their stores to buy using the debit card. So as any business woudl do they are going to collect from the user. Accept it or don't use you the card.

    Tea Party – The commonality is the fact that both didn't want the bailout. The problem is for the Tea Party that means letting capitalism rule the day. Occupy doesn't seem to want capitalism. come on.. do you want the gov't to do everything for you?

    Student Loans – you see all these kids with – can't get a job. We'll that is because business are not hiring for your liberal arts degree or maybe you are an engineer but due to too high capital gains taxes jobs went overseas. Rally for the Fair Tax or reduced corp tax with the incentive to bring jobs back to the US. Otherwise, stop expecting a 100k job out of college. I was an atty making 15k my first year. Wake up – you have to earn your way up the ladder.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Truth

    Get real Baby boomers, thisis n't about th same crowd that was at Burning Man, thereis a lot of respectable members of society supporting this. People like myself with College degrees that are hungry for work. we are being underpaid and taken advantage of because the baby boomers lived above thier means on credit and HELOC's. They jobs are crap, we can't find money to get a loan, and housing prices are still probally higher than they should be due to shadow inventories. The banks have misallocated funds to increase thier internal revenues and nobody is doing a thing. We are not republicans or democrats, just Americans who want a future for our kids too. Sleep lightly 1% because we are coming for you!

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

      we be ready

      October 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ronald Raygun

    and the tea party thought they were special...

    October 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sid Boxman

      The Tea Party at least picked up after themselves and put people into office. It will be interesting to see what happens here. If Occupy is against rich people then tell their Actor & Singer buddies who make millions off their movies and song sells to take a cut and lower prices. And then ask all the pro-sport stars to do the same. can't take the family to a football game. Well, maybe the VIkes..... 🙂

      October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. US Citizen

    I dont mind someone making money off their product or service as long as its reasonable and they dont export the jobs to another country but make money from their country. If you make a profit in one country then the labor, labor, and service should come from the same country. If another company from another countries to compete thats fine as long as all is equal, i.e. equal paid labor and so on. Now this might raise prices on everything and slow sales and more but there needs to be a happy middle. you cant expect the rich to pay for everything and the poor take it all or you have the same problem. But you can expect the rich and poor alike to pay a fair share. What that is and how thats worked has yet to be figured out equally.

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