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."

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."


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. realmike

    All together now: "'The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money'" (M. Thatcher, Feb 1976)

    October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      We'll just pick more off the Obama money tree.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robin G Hoode

    Check out the website

    FIreTheRich dot org

    October 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alex


    There are serious economical issues out there. These issues can not be addressed with insults as I saw one of the American senators saying that: if you do not have one million is your fault. On the other hand you the ones being rich have this impression that you should not be touched somehow on your riches... you also are supposed to be a contributor in solving these issues.

    On the grand scale, the economical capitalist system, is showing its limits and it is the time that intelligent people from everywhere sit down and come with a different economical system which works for real and not is just running well until the next trouble...
    While I am not an expert I do think that a combination of free initiative and some of the socialist ideas may work together for the benefit of many, not only for a few which are gathering out of this world riches and have the feeling nothing can touch them.

    As for those saying that socialism has not worked I beg to differ. The real Socialism implemented in a democratic political environment has proven record. Please see the countries from the Northern Europe, closer to you is Canada
    The destinies of so many should not depend on transactions in global markets depending in what one market sells or not; or simply based on perception or estimation of: what if...

    Time for a change has come... the normal folk from everywhere understands we are depending on each other and we must have a system which works for everyone not just for few...

    All the best,

    October 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Your quote was from the Republican Front Runner Herman Cain't
      "If you are poor it is your own fault"

      October 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoIdols

      I love hearing the call for something new. Thanks, Alex!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NoIdols

    1) Wages are stagnant at late-‘70s levels. Corporate profits have been inflated on real wage cuts – not genius, efficiency, or a successful economic system. Productivity gains no longer accrue to those who work and produce – they accrue only to those who own.
    2) This state of affairs violates the fundamental purpose of any economic system – to best distribute limited resources as the fruits of labor (incentive), goods, and services. Any other concept of economics is wrong and stems from reasoning other than economics (wishful thinking, social Darwinism, New World Calvinism…)
    3) The false identification of ownership with profit creation and productivity has completely undermined all debate in the US government and main stream discourse. Since the premises are false, all debate and all proposed remedies are wrong. The current system has hit a wall and all financial balance sheets and great personal fortunes exist only as subsidized by working-class taxes and wage cuts. The best and only real demand of the protest should be to shift the premises of the debate from dogma to reality.
    4) The only taxation with representation that exists in this country is the meager percentage levied on the top 1% who have taken over the funding, campaigning, nominations, and terms of debate. The rest of us are not represented, anywhere. Heads they win, tails we lose.

    That there are those who can’t see this is testimony to the power of corporate gaslighting. The system is operating on ignorance and dogma, not reason and justice. Unless you’re one of the top 1% of sponges laying claim to everyone elses productivity, opposing the protest leaves you a willing enemy of your own welfare

    October 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex


      I agree with your thinking.
      Something must be done, everyone understands this.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • sclark13

      This is a good and well thought out response. Hopefully our elected representatives get the message, but conservatives are just going to take this as communist propaganda and start a witchhunt.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jimbo

    Where were all these protesters protesting against the bailouts when they were happening? Oh, that's right they supported the bailouts.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      Shh you'll confuse their denial!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mik

      Actually they were working... remember, people didn't really start to lose their jobs UNTIL THE THEIVING BANKS WERE PAID! You Self Righteous MORON!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cam Rankin

      Jimbo, your right, corporate bail outs are not capitalism, that is socialism. Thats what the people supported while the rest of the remaining middle class said "hey! this is a bad idea!" If the banks fail due to bad judgment then they fail. If i lost my house on that premise the Govt wouldn't bail me out? In the USA at least, it is not our govt job to make the economy run , its the people. With the bail out the govt intervened. Down with the fed. Back to the gold standard. Let the loser's lose. Let the winners win. Get money out of politics and govt. Rest is up to us!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JB

    NOW HIRING: We need tasters in our pie factory, only liberals need apply.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      Hey JB, Guess what
      China owns you, your pickup truck AND your moms apple pie. lol
      Enjoy 😉

      October 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. augustghost

    UNITE AND FIGHT !!!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Imaliberaldunce

    If I was a worthless POS, I'd be out there protesting too!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • HZ

      As opposed to hiding behind a computer screen? Yes, you sound like God's gift to the world.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mik

      Keep thinking that until "they" come to take yours... oh yeah... they don't repossess trailers DO THEY? LOL oh yeah, the guy above me BURNED YOU a new one... MORON!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Truejoy

    You have to look under the surface. If you visit the official livestream #OWS site, thousands are chatting all about their 'new world order' plans. Also, the 'end the feds' dude's second speech was where he declared he was a student of Von Mises and Austrian economics. I typed these into the internet & it immediately pulled up "Austrian Economics and the Rise of Hitler" and "The Source of Hitler's Success" by Ludwig von Mises, worth a read, because Hitler ran on basically the same ticket these guys are, but on a smaller scale.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoIdols

      Actually, much of Friedman and present day monetarism owes it's existence to Austrian economic theory. Fascism was far less scientific in its approaches and metrics. It was an ideology, not a system of thought, however they would have you believe.

      We are far more the inheritors of the Austrian school via the Chicago school, than the Nazis were.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jobree

      i think its just pathetic the way some of these people by you try to deligitmize democratic powe in free speech, and standing up for your rights, by calling them basically "nazis" or more specifically targeting one person's veiw out of thousands in a diverse, leaderless movement with different people having different opinions and issues important to them, and then suggesting as if everyone is like that, thats just silly stereotyping like saying, my grandfather likes limburger cheese, so all grandfathers like limburger cheese. gime a break.............

      October 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeperLee

      I refuse to take your statement seriously since you couldn't bother to identify 'that end the fed dude' as Ron Paul.

      As to your claim that Hitler used Austrian economic principles- I will have to look into it but it seems fishy to me considering that Hitler's Nazis were essentially a socialist party and austrian economics are based on a free market, capitalist system.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jobree

    why do americans always think they started everything, stop being so egotistical, protests over the economic-social problems going on in the world, have been going on in many different places, inlcuding greece, egypt, syria, israel, spain, england etc. long before most americans even heard of them, just because americans are ignorant of world news, doesnt meant they started something.
    actually i believe its more along the line of global consciousness, sort of a "great minds think alike" but on a global level.
    and its a beautiful wake up call.........viva la revolucion!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Imaliberaldunce

    POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

    Pass it along!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. v_mag

    There is such a disconnect between what is objectively happening in the world-wide protests and how they are being characterized by right-wing sources and echoed here by loyal Faux News viewers. Here are a few of the glaring examples:

    (righties): Protests are insignificant - (objective): Tens of thousands world wide are participating
    (righties): Protestors are lazy, dirty hippies - (objective): People of all ages, employed and unemployed, are supporting the protests. e.g., I have a masters degree, have worked over 40 years, and am working now, after being laid off for 10 months.
    (righties): All the protestors are Obama supporters. - (objective): OWS folks consistently call for an end to corruption of both parties by Wall St. money. The main reason this started in NY is that Wall St. is where the real power is, and it infects all levels of government and all parties.

    Is that clear enough? I'd vote Republican if they were the ones to sever ties with Wall St., bring 1% criminals to justice, halt the wars, properly distribute the tax burden, and get the government working again. I doubt they will, though. And neither will the Democrats unless they are dragged kicking and screaming to edge of annihilation as a party. That's what the protests are about.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      Wrong. Compare your hippie losers to the Tea Party and be ashamed.

      You guys try your best to alter reality, sorry but we're awake and not in denial.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • v_mag

      Imaliberaldunce is a prime example of the disconnect. Kind of an "I know you are, but what am I?" argument. Very childish. What are you? Three years old?

      Have something to say next time you write, little person. Children should be seen and not heard.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      No Liberaldunce, you are sleepy from being the fat overbloated jerk-off who got everything handed to him and still thinks the world owes him protection. We will k ill the likes of you first.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • NoIdols

      There you go, again, Liberaldunce!

      You see, it's the Tea Partyers that are kissing the fat rears of the former hippies working on Wall St. Oh yeah, those boomers screwed up the country and are determined to be buried with all their parents' and childrens' and grandchildrens' money. And who's helping them? Brainwashed, supply-sider, anti-taxers. I'm trying to imagine how life must be for someone to believe that those keeping you down are right and those fighting for freedom are wrong.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Willa45

    IAs the seeds of globalization begin to take hold, more and more people around the world are becoming disenfranchised. The World Bank is now dictateing economic policy in many countries around the world and the number keeps growing as more and more governments go into default.. Greece is a prime example. US debt is mounting and our GDP is in the toilet. Capitalism as we once knew it no longer exists...it has been replaced with an abomination that does not even have a name.. While our lawmakers waste their time bickering over political partisanship, all the wealth in the US is being sucked out from the bottom up.......Something to think about....Just saying.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sharp shooter

    Winter is coming.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      too bad the north is filled with dunceheads. no f34r...

      October 17, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The R.O.T.P.

    how much destruction will they have, not that they even care for example the usa.....

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