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. Steve Lyons

    Protesters need to wake up and go after Obama directly. He and Soros are the 1%'ers. Obama voted for the TARP and original bailouts that gave banks all the money and stiffed the taxpayers with the debt.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      Socialists of the world unite

      October 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThinkLessDoMore

      Get over your blame!

      October 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • newsreel

      Bush adopted it too, even before Obama. It was a necessary step to avoid the meltdown. Now that the meltdown is AVOIDED, it is easy for deniers to say it was unnecessary.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Let me add: Obama bailed out the auto companies, he wasted 800 billion on failed stimulus, his "Jobs Advisor" is none other the Jeff Imelt, the CEO of General electric which paid no US Corp taxes last year, "Wall Street" give more campaign $'s to DEMOCRATS than Republicans. The absurdy of the media propping up this "Movement" is stunning. The Dems and the media are trying to put a narritive on these people taht they don't even agree with. Within the first few days of the Tea Party, CNN and most of the media were openly mocking the people who took part in the demonstrations.

      You can't take the liberal media seriously, so search out other outlets where we can get the whole story without the spin.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      really? is that why Obama opposed the supreme court's decision to lift a ban against corporations donating money to politicians? or passed Wall Street Reform bill which is obviously somewhat effective judging by the billions of dollars poured in to over turn it (i.e. ISSA)? or maybe that is why he started a government consumer protection agency which has been opposed all the way to taking years to approve the nominated head of the agency? yeah, it really mskes sense that the guy asking for a millionaire tax and and new regulations on Wall Street is the one looking out for them, and not the group of guys blocking any measure at tax the rich, regulate wall street, or dismantle the new consumer protection agency

      October 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Bush sign TARP into law in 2008. Obama may have voted for it but it would have gone nowhere without Bush's signature.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • notatall

      Bush started TARP. It is dual party Corporate greed.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • marty

      what are you talking about?? TARP was the brainchild (loosely used) of George Bush in 2008...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • delilahjones

      Most of the 1% are likely Republicans. And lets not forget that the whole econonic recession began as a result of Bush's unpaid for wars & "additional" tax breaks for the wealthy. Bush also initiated the 1st stimulus & TARP. Place most of the blame where it surely belongs – the GOP.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • exodus84

      Yes. Socialists. Because when the financial system failed because of their own abuse and greed and the government bailed them out THAT was so capitalist right? Go take Econ 101 before you post again.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      @ Chris and Marty,

      Tarp was signed by Bush but it was passed by Pelosi's congress with 2/3rds democrat voting for it (Obama voted for it in the senate) with only a handfull of republicans.

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

      Oh Steve! You have done it now! You have iffended those who think that the massive spending in Washington has nothing to do with the situation! They are now going to say it was all George Bush's fault! What are we going to do? Let me ask one thing, if we as the little person loses a source of income, what do we do? We stop sepnding!!! Washington is doing the opposite. they continue to spend and expand government Yes people, the Deomcrats and Republicans are just as responsible as the other and Obama is not the answer. He has no clue what to do nor do his "advisors". He was not prepared for this job (you can't say he was because he has no credentials to prove it) and is in way over his head. The problem is not Wal-Street, it's Washington, everyone in Washington. Wak up and stop the siding with a party bull crap because that's waht your parents vote4d or voting because of your skin color or socio economic status, do the right thing as Americans for a change and let's make some change, starting in Washington.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glibertarian

      "Protesters need to wake up and go after Obama directly. He and Soros are the 1%'ers." More anti-Obama trolling hoping everyone ignores the facts. The bailouts all started under Bush, when Henry Paulson went begging on his hand & knees in the middle of the night to the left-wing Congress. We know now that Wall Street primarily saw it as not "emergency" but a money-making opportunity. We did risky loans & profited from the high-interest, now we'll get the Govt to loan us money so we can dump the losses on future taxpayers.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glibertarian

      And or course, since I pointed out mistakes or sketchy practices by at least one capitalist I must be therefore be a socialist or communist. (sarcasm)

      October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. paparazzinc dot com

    The US is spending $300 million/week in Afghanistan. No worries America you can afford it. Right?

    –paparazzinc. c o m

    October 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elke Sommer

      Don't know where you get your numbers but 300 millions is per day, it's about 2 Billion per week now..

      October 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • FL JimmE

      300 million a DAY... EVERY DAY.. in Afghanvietistan. Fire more american teachers to save money, build more Afghan schools... this is how empires collapse.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • yannaes

      yep! The Rockefeller and Kennedy foundations are supporting the war.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rojopa

    Anyone who wants communism raise your hand! No thanks; I'll stay with capitalism.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Starstuff

      We all grew up with all this anti-communist propaganda but if you really think about it we can learn a few things from communism. As the WORLD resources become scarce and the wealth go to the top 1% what are we going to do?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      I find it interesting that any time anyone suggests a little more regulation or a little more taxes that they become a communist. When a bank becomes too big to fail it is a monopoly and should be broken up. When corporations spend bailout money on giving bonuses to the people who ran them into the ground government money should have more strings attached. Nobody has ever had a truely free market and nobody in their right mind would even want one. Everyone games the system to benefit themselves. It is only when we talk about making changes to benefit ordinary people instead of the wealthy and corporations when people start talking about interfering with free markets.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You think bailing out the banks was a capitalist measure? I thought business was supposed to succeed or fail of it's own accord. It's only capitalist for the little guy.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • shakenbake

      We want conscientious capitalism, not greedy, dirty capitalism! Bank CEOs making $20 million per year is pure greed and theft essentially.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aces

      Starstuff – what the far lefties that love the idea of Communism don't get is that what happens is you end up with 99.99% of the people poor and .01% are ultra rich and control everything. Capitalism in it's current form isn't perfect but it is one heel of a lot better than Communism.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. That's large Government

    Another Obama screwup. Please stop trying to help the American people. Everytime one of your new laws goes into effect which you couldn't think out. Bad things happen. We are going on 3 years of Obama screw ups. He has no clue at what he does.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      And Bush was rock solid right? TARP, two wars and increase in our national debt by almost 30% doesn't sound like a good job to me. That took Bush eight years to do and Obama only gets three years to fix it?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Clearly you have no clue of how the government works, or you'd realize that the president doesn't make laws.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • delilahjones

      It took Bush 8 yrs. to drive the economy over a cliff & yet you expect Obama to have it all fixed in less than 3 yrs. Obama
      deserves to clean Bush's mess up. Obama 2012!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      The president doesn't make laws but his pen passes them.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kayla

      everyone can voice their opinion on who or what is to blame but until a solution is proposed everything will remain the way it is.. get to it

      October 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rob

    The Dems and the Media will try to prop this "movement" untill they start protesting them. Thats when the party will be over and it will be soon. The majority of things I've heard from the people at these events are against capitalism in general. Thay have been steered to an extent by the Unions and the Dems to blame "Wall Street Greed" because it deflects blame from them for the time being. Its going to be a long 13months untill Nov. 6th, 2012

    October 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      It will be interesting to see if the Occupy Wall Street movement can sustain itself. The Tea Parties were heavily funded by the Koch brothers and heavily promoted by Fox "News" talk radio, etc. Occupy Wall Street by comparison is an organic movement from the grass roots instead of something orchestrated by corporate puppetmasters like the Tea parties.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Tea party changed the national conversation to reducing the deficit, lower spending and less Govt. They helped elect large majorities in the house in historic #'s in 2010. I don't believe the koch brothers "Funded" the tea party, they were also a grassroots reaction to huge Govt bailouts of the banks etc. As opposed to the wall street occupiers who are against rich people, banks, corporations and the Capitalist system in general whithout any real solution other than "Change". There is no comparison at all.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TheGarderner

    Why does it have to be either of them? myself? yes to capitalism but no to corrupted government. US government as many others are corrupted!

    October 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Shar

    Let's all have a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, that should fix everything right? Money f0or nothing.......Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket...

    October 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Deana

    Maybe I don't understand the over all "Occupy Movement". At first it was just a paid and staged protest. I was hoping people would see that. This thing has gone global. Instead of condemning the rich, I'm not one of them, how about we get the drug users and lazy people who have made welfare a career off of it. The middle class are the ones who pays the bills that count. Who the hell is speaking for us? We are at work everyday trying to pay our bills and taxes.

    October 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • glyder

      it's official.the nazi and communist party support the protests.oh how wonderful.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      glyder, it's official: you understand neither nazism or communism.


      October 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |

      I'm assuming you will be posting a link to back up your statements about this being staged or paid.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. us1776

    "The Problem With Capitalism Is Eventually The Rich Steal All The Other Peoples Money"


    October 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Addie Stalk

    The "Occupy Wall Street" movement may have begun in the US, but the fight against corporate greed has been going on for years. The UK "Uncut" movement has been demonstrating against cuts in social services and for a better balance in the economy for years.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. us1776

    Unbridled communism = disaster
    Unbridled capitalism = disaster
    Blend of socialism plus free market = good


    October 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canada Eh!

      Welcome to Canada! No bank bailouts! Healthy economy (relative)! Universal Healthcare! Great opportunities! Safe place to live!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Newo

      WHAT!?!??!?!?!? you can't have compromise!!!!!
      *please note the sarcasm*
      #Save the middle class, find the middle ground#

      October 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • MichaelX

      Canada: Safe but COLD! Burrr. Still, I've thought about it.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TasteGauJal

    Anti-Capitalists are also opposed to private property and individual liberties. Screw 'em.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      Taste, wrong.

      Unbridled capitalism is rife with fraud and corruption.

      But blend socialism with free markets and you get much better outcome. You have basis for sharing AND basis for individual achievement.


      October 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. krehator

    We don't have capitalism. We have crapitalism.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      In U.S. for past 30 years we've had fascism (blending of govt and corporations). Which produced massive fraud and corruption just like it did in 1930's Germany and Italy.


      October 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike in Montana

    Thank you Mr. Cain.., because of your 9-9-9 increase federal tax plan, including increased sales tax for people that already have a state with a sales tax. I am joining the protest against the rich in America, 'Wall Street' and corporate 'greed'. Once again, thank you Mr. Cain, for showing me and the world the light. Boy.., Mr. Cain, you sure know how to make the Middle-Class in America, baby-boomers, senior citizens, AARP members, retirees', disabled, veterans, people on Social Security, poor and the homeless, mad at you. People are just trying to 'put food on the table' for their family with children and you want to increase the cost of food and other essentials with a 9% federal sales tax. Your a genius at making millions of people or voters mad at you.., taking more money out of the pockets of people that can't afford to pay any more, especially clothing for the children and 'putting food on the table' for the family. How about a free 'pizza' for America, thats putting 'food on the table' for everyone. The wealthy and rich in America, like Mr. Cain.., need not to apply. Middle-Class Americans' and senior citizens are going to love you.. Mike in Montana

    October 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NunyaGDbidness

    i wouldn't call the occupy wall street going global... they learned from Egypt and Libya in how to deal with corrupt governments. since then everyone had a chance to look in the mirror and realize, our corruption is different, not better or worse, but different.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
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