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.

London

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."

Paris

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."

Rome

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.

Amsterdam

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."

Rekyjavík, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in Rekyjavík, 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."

Tokyo

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.

Toronto

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. Kevin

    These "Communications Majors" probably thought theyd come out making $60,000 a year. You cant blame the govt for their own stupidity and terrible budgeting.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Yeah, because it's really all about disgruntled college kids who want to take what you have isn't it? They're all just lazy bums who want to spread communism right? Look out Kevin, there is a communist ghost sitting on the roof waiting to shoot you with a poisoned arrow...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      No, they're sitting on Wall Street harassing people trying to go to work and go about their day because they have NO OBLIGATIONS to attend to in their miserable lives. Fact is these folks are just board and need a hobby.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      "bored"...sorry....I shoulda been a Communications Major!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Keep hanging on to that "bunch of lazy hippies" assessment...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jannerl

    I believe in pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps and I paid for my own college tuition, books, food, car, gas, clothing... My parents paid my car insurance and let me live at home for free while I went to school.How did I manage? I worked and saved each year to cover my expenses. It isn't about all that – the unrest today is due to the disgust we(Republicans and Democrats) feel for the robber barons on Wall Street and major financial centers who have ruined the economy, the banks, housing, and every other sector they can get their thieving hands on. I want to see those responsible do the perp walk...

    October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      We? Don't speak for me. You can keep your Communist, Marxist and Socialist agenda. Go protest the law makers who actually made it possible for the econimic downfall to happen.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      And don't speak for me. I would no sooner trust a Republican than trust a serial killer. I say we hang all republicans, the stinkin traitors they are!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Falconi

      @CarlosinTx: Assuming that the TX stands for Texas, are you aware that you have a 'Traitor' for a Governor? If it doesn't stand for Texas then pardon me for the misinterpretation. It must therefore stand for "Taxes".

      October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Flipider.com

    I could understand the Banks point of view IF the Banks were talking about a TV loan. A house is someone's LIFE that the Banks are taking away from someone and a LIFE FORCE in yours, there’s and our community that may never be the same again.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Big_D

    Corporatism has brought back robber barons, yellow journalism, and the depression. If you wonder why they are not reporting the demands you should realize the media is corporate.

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

      It certainly has brought out some nasty traits in this country, but I can't say that it's caused a depression. For instance, when was the last time you went to the Shopping Mall and found the parking lot to be empty? I haven't seen it yet.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JOE

    Then if the Republicans are really smart, why are the responsible for two unpaid wars, a whole lot of dead American soldiers and the worst economic crisis in America since the Great Depression?

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

      hey joe, please post all the bills and votes the democrats took to defund those two wars...oh you can't?? didn't think so. much easier to demagogue the issue than take a stand that would have saved lives

      October 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      It's called GOP wars-for-profit.

      Plug GOP crony military-industrial companies into US Treasury and suck out trillions.

      All the while going rah-rah-shish-kumba.

      .

      October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Joe, C'mon its Obama's fault. Haven't you been listening. I can't WAIT to feast on the corpulent body of Rush Linbaugh.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • us1776

      sick, Obama set a timetable and he is holding to that timetable of ending these Bush wars. You cannot just end such huge wars cold turkey unfortunately.

      .

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

      To say that the whole mess with the military is the fault of a single party is assinine. But, it's really easy...

      October 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickofitall

      us1776, 2/3 of the casualties in the Afghanistan war; also known as the action to secure safe trade routes for opium distributions have occurred on Obama's watch since he implemented his surge.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. occupy_space_time

    I will be at work until 4p. Then I will head home. If anyone wants to rally with me, we will occupy the same space and blow Einstein's MIND!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pat

    These idiots are protesting the wrong people in the wrong place.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BJ

    Are these people crazy? They're marching against the very systems that still gives them some semblance of freedom and democracy, the ONLY system that allows for public protests, and in favor of the very kind of political system that will eliminate their right to march for anything. Everybody knows that politics and big business is corrupt, but is Marxist socialism and its fruit any less so? Historically speaking, it always leads to the elimination of the right of the individual. It seems they're seeking to trade one kind of theft for another, and eliminate personal freedoms in the process.

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

      crazy AND stupid- Flea Baggers

      October 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      OK You mean since everyone "knows" wink wink, that it is all corrupt, then they should just STFU and pay homage to the Wall St. kings of the land.

      BRING IT DOWN!!!!!!! It is worse to leave a corrupt system in place than the evil of making it crash to the ground. BRING WALL STREET DOWN!!!!!

      October 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Falconi

      Nature abhors a vacuum. Right, bring Wall Street down only have it filled with something worse? If you think that the space would be filled with something wholesome and pure then you're fooling yourself. Better the Devil you know...

      That's not to say that Wall Street couldn't use some cleaning up, absolutely, but 'Bring it down' is a cry of anger, not one of a rational thinker.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sickofitall

    I really think they should change their name to "I'm Too Stupid and Lazy to Take Care of Myself"...They complain our Democracy is broken which actually makes sense since we are a Republic...they hate being victimized by big banks..ok well I joined a credit union in 1979 and haven't banked anywhere else; are they staying someone put a gun to their heads and forced them to bank at BOA?? Mind control maybe?? Can't get a job with a degree in the "appreciation of ancient art forms"? Who's fault is that?? Big business?? There are job vacancies all over the country that require technical degrees that cannot be filled within the current crop of candidates; who's fault is that? Another conspiracy by big business or the Koch brothers. And these jobs pay well. "Our political system is corrupt" this one actually is my favorite.. do these people think this is something new? Something that has suddenly materialized in the last 20 years to suppress their right to be whoever they think they should be with purple hair?? And if indeed our politicians are corrupt; who's fault is that?? I don't care how wealthy you may be, you still only get one vote. The Koch brothers or Soros may have the financial resources to sway an uneducated and uninformed electorate, so what...if they are successful, who's fault is that?? In the end we get precisely the kind and quality of representation that we deserve.

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

      There are 2 kinds of societies. One, where you're expected to work. The other, where your tempted to work. The former is a Slave Empire. The latter, a free society. When wages skyrocket, and the self serving Help Wanted sign is expanded to a sales pitch, we'll be there. Not until.

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

      take another hit and this time don't inhale...idiot..." When wages skyrocket" you've have something called inflation

      October 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Oh and in your mind the "controlled inflation" of 3-4 5 yearly growth that capitalism requires is OK? But wages skyrocketing, pffft. that would mean there is more money to spend and make the system self start itself. We can't have that because, then the corportations can't pass the extra costs of inflation to the consumer (oh hold on yes they can) Oh uh corporations can't make humongous rishes living on the DEBT of the nation, yeah there ya go....

      Borrow from the Fed @ .5% and then buy U.S. debt at 2.5% = 2% profit for doing nothing. No wonder Wall St. is raping us, they are being force fed by the bought and paid for Government.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Imaliberaldunce

    OWS is a Movement. Get it? MOVEMENT?

    Bunch of losers doing nothing protesting about nothing cause nothing is in their resume.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tamars

    "From my understanding, they feel that governments have done too much to protect companies while doing very little to assist the average citizen." That's right – others protected: goldman sachs, bank of america, chase, hedge funds, oil companies, etc. everyone but we the people. they must stop.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Falconi

      Agreed. It's Government behaviors like this that are starting to look a lot like Socialism to me.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jannerl

    PS – I like rich people; it's crooks I can't stand...

    October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      All rich people are crooks.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. us1776

    Victory is a level playing field where middle-class and rich incomes rise by the same percentage.

    Victory is fraud and corruption out of Wall Street.

    Victory is fraud and corruption out of Washington.

    Victory is American companies creating jobs for Americans.

    Victory is universal healthcare for all citizens.

    Victory is affordable education for all citizens.

    Victory is sustainable social safety net – the hallmark of every civilized country.

    Victory is a country where all classes work together to build the nation and not just their wallets.

    .

    October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • GeorgeGray

      The victory will be when the gov't pays people to obey the "law," because at present there is no reason to. The legislatures have not obtained written power of attorney from anyone, do not have "consent of the governed," and can't enact any real laws. Note also that capital will replace labor over time, and the unemployment rate will naturally approach 100%. So, the gov't will have to tax the capital, and redistribute the money to the people who live here, in exchange for obedience. The question is how much useless trouble stands between today and when the gov't pays us to obey the preferences of others, whom we've never met.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      Victory is putting all you communists back in China so you can work on your equality picking rice.

      Loser.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Liberaldunce,
      We are going to eat your lunch, then eat you.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Falconi

    "Most were there to show their hatred for the government bailouts for banks.." Don't blame capitalism for this. Ideologically speaking, Capitalism would let the banks fail. It's Socialism that bails them out. I dislike the bailouts too but lets make sure we place the blame where it belongs.

    October 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      No its corporate control of government,not socialism reacting to appropriate Social needs. Don't blame socialism just because the traitorous scvmbags on Wall St. and their talking head minions have conveniently labelled the theft of Trillions of Tax dollars as Socialism. That is NOT socialism.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Falconi

      Wall Street didn't bail out the big banks, the Government bailed out Wall Street. Socialism defined. Try again.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. GeorgeGray

    The trouble ends when the gov't pays people to obey the "law," because at present there is no reason to. The legislatures have not obtained written power of attorney from anyone, do not have "consent of the governed," and can't enact any real laws. Note also that capital will replace labor over time, and the unemployment rate will naturally approach 100%. So, the gov't will have to tax the capital, and redistribute the money to the people who live here, in exchange for obedience. The question is how much useless trouble stands between today and when the gov't pays us to obey the preferences of others, whom we've never met.

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