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. JB

    Time for the Kent State moment. Who wants to be first?

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prophet of Doom

      I think killing as in Kent State will not be allowed or taken lightly today. Back then they got away with it. All hell would break lose if it happened now.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ricky

    Unemployed libtards with nothing to do all day. they advocate for a system that has been shown to fail time and time again. Just look at the economic state of the EU? Why would anyone advocate for socialism? capitalism isnt perfect but at least if one works hard and is self reliant they can be a sucess. Socialism is gov. welfare for the masses.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      What if their money is stolen by a bank that allowed them to borrow money based on a house price the bank artificially inflated? You allow for grifters but not the honest worker?

      October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prophet of Doom

      These people are protesting out of control and unregulated Capitalism. Miss that and you are dumber than you think.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • frespech

      If I were part of the 1% I would be getting just a little nervous.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tony Greene

    Tax the lazy sponge on government handouts, Im tired of my tax dollars going to some lazy cry baby. If you want something then go out and work for it. the rich people and the middle class do not owe you worthless piece of crap do nothing sponges anything!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Prophet of Doom

      That is so republican and teabagger of you.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. asdf

    Capitalism just occasionally needs a reboot like what Teddy Roosevelt did to the trust barons at the turn of last century. Every now and then the system gets gummed up by a small number of individuals. Time to break out the WD40.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Juan in El Passo

    Here is a start: If you Occupiers and Supports want to adress corporate greed and government corruption why not start with TURNING THE UNIONS AWAY! If they can't address corruption and greed in thier own UNION HALLS then how can they morally stand with you? Unless this is all a political show from the unions and dems using you as one russian communist leader called "USEFUL IDIOTS!"

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

      1% have 90% of the wealth. Please don't feel to sorry for them or believe that they are somehow smarter or better than you.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. redwine9991

    2012 is the year for real changes in the world!!! Are you ready for it?

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

    Why doesn't everyone just quit whining, get off their butts, and go and do something productive instead of protesting.

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

      uhh because that would require hardwork, dedication and commitment. And, id have to cut my hair bro!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bimbo the Birthday Clown

      It's quite obvious that this depression that we're in is not hurting you, is it? It's easy for some well-to-do right-wing nutjob like you to make such a senseless statement like the above. Try putting yourself in their place!!!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • corey

      "why doesn't everybody go do something". Like what? No disrespect, but I'm really sick of reading comments like this. Why don't you demonstrate that you've actually thought about this and have some knowledge and ideas to back up your statements. I'm not for or against this movement, but I do think if you're going to condemn it then lets hear your intelligent alternative if you're even capable of providing one. Also, kind of ironic, here we are sitting on our fat asses wasting our time writing comments that accomplish nothing. Are we any better? No, we're just less motivated.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      it affected me. I lost my job, then found a new one. Lesser paying but whatever. Now I can only have the 2nd most awesome cable package instead of the best. People just hate having to sacrifice things to get less pay. Youre just all spoiled.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • frespech

      Because the unemployment statistics show that there are not jobs for everyone that wants to work.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mark

    What a waste....this too will be history next week...it wil lsolve nothing and no one will remember it.

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

      HAHAHAHA the ants ALWAYS win

      October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. autonomy_is_the_future

    Marx was correct.. what he predicted you are seeing now with capitalism.
    That doesn't mean communism or socialism is better either. In the future there will be some kind of hybrid system that will eventually pave the way for real autonomy. it may take hundreds more or thousands of years perhaps but it's inevitable.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RAMBLE3144

    Hey CNN: YOU are part of the capitalist system. Ted Turner was moreso. Wake up!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ken

    Interesting protests. I guess these people want to drive all investment to China and eliminate all jobs in the rest of the world. China loves these protesters. China loves Obama. There won't be a major employer left in the US afer Obama gets done with his regulations and the protesters get done demanding corporations leave the US! No wonder the US has dropped from first to last in education. We elect leaders who are grossly ignorant of science, technology, and economics. We let teacher unions educate our kids into ignorance and into third world status. Wow! One Chicago Democrat was all it took to destroy America!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Yeah DUH Ken, a guy who got in office in 2009 made all you traitors send your jobs to China and other third world countries back in the 2000's Wow he truly is all powerful. You are a stooge. I would put you on the gallows first.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jbels

      Ken you really are a moron.Sometime I like to go out to the hick bars and talk politics to meet a$ $holes like you and incite them to violent out bursts.lol Then I give them an MMA lesson.But hey,they always swing first,rightwing nut job christians.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tony Greene

    Reward success, Punish laziness and failure.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JOE

    Remember the GOP recently rejected president Obama's proposed jobs bill? Well, that fine however they're yet to introduce a bill of their own to create jobs for the American people. This is simply ludicrous and outrageous! For three straight years the GOP which is responsible for eight years of peril on our nation has behaved as though it has all the answers to economic job growth. Yet we are still above 9% unemployment. But if the dumb Democrats in congress continue to remain silent as they did during the midterm elections, then there's no telling what would be the outcome of our future.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • frankie b

      No the Senate rebuked it with smart Democrats voting WITH Republicans- you need to find a truthful source for news CNN ain't it

      October 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. frankie b

    Do you mean Graucho or Harpo Marx

    October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jsouthpaww

    occupyinsanity.com cause it's all insane lol

    October 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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