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. GetAClue

    Wow, how quickly the right-wingers forget ... It was BUSH that bailed the banks out NOT OBAMA. Check your facts before you post, please.

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

      Bush with his LIBERAL MAJORITY WHO DEMANDED IT.

      How quick libs forget...

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

      Newest OWS Acronym:

      POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

      Rule those streets you POS People!!!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • jobree

      wow its even more pathetic the way you two are like kids, " no its his fault" no its his fault blah blah blah

      cant you guys realize that the stupid system is at fault!!! both democrats and republicans are backed by corparations, BOTH are corrupt , the whole system is corrupt,thats why ou dotn here any of the protestes bickering over your guys silly nonsense, ie republican, democrat,
      wake up!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. humtake

    Basically, all these protests are about are people who are not rich are jealous of those who are. I wish I could live my life always pointing the finger at someone else saying they are the cause of all of my life's problems...but unfortunately I am a logic, smart person so I can't bring myself down to that level of stupidity.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      "Basically, all these protests are about are people who are not rich are jealous of those who are."

      Your simplistic assessment speaks volumes about your intelligence level...

      October 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Not quite – it's about the government using our tax dollars to give money to large banks, defense contractors, oil companies etc. They've given more to the Corporations than they had to give. So they drained Social Security (again our money). Now they are deeply in debt and need more money from individuals to balance the books. The Government is nothing more than a mechanism to take money from individuals and give it to big business . . . like ROBIN HOOD in reverse!!

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

      Actually it is about a bunch of stoners looking for an excuse to party.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • not jealous, not stupid

      humtake – you define stupidity with your lock-step and brainless sloganism. Gee who else accused regular working people trying to keep from being pushed under water of being "jealous" ? Or maybe your name is really Herman Cain?
      Try thinking for yourself, humtake.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aaron

    For those of you that are still struggling to understand what this is all about, here's my simple take: The U.S. Government is no longer a democracy. It is the pawn of Corporate interests. The Government is nothing but a tool to take money from individuals (in the form of taxes) and give it to Corporations (in the form of bail outs and defense contracts). The Government then claims they are in debt and needs to raise more taxes from individuals while refusing to tax the rich or the Corporations who are making billions. Think about it. Make you mad?! It should make you absolutely furious. REAL. HARD. FACTS.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • TonyB

      What about the 47% who pay no taxes at all? It seems most of the protesters fall into the lower to middle income bracket, which pays very little in taxes compared to the rich and corporations.

      By the way, the Corporations that you seem to despise employ most of the people in this country. Seems that many of these people are biting the hand that feeds them.

      I oppose any government bailout, and in fact I oppose the government giving any money to anybody without receiving a service in return. That includes welfare, social security, medicare, medicaid, etc. except for disabled veterans. If you oppose Corporations receiving bailouts then you should oppose any bailout, including to individuals, including subsidies for groups such as farmers.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • usstrong

      That was the first time I seen or heard anyone actually have an explanation for the "occupy wallstreet" protests. Its too bad more of the people there don't know why they are there. Well done.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • v_mag

      TonyB, that brings up a real sore point with me. I don't know where you get "47% pay no taxes at all". Everybody that owns a car pays big gasoline taxes and registration fees. Every home owner pays property taxes, and if you rent, you're paying the landlord's property taxes. You buy something, you pay sales taxes. And those are all regressive taxes that hurt poor and middleclass people the most.

      Taxes are everywhere, except at the corporate level, where GE and B of A and others can keep all their billions in profits and pay no income taxes. And then people who believe like you defend those corporations as your masters, as if they "give" you a job and you are thus beholden to them. The fact is, you serve them. You're a wage slave. As soon as they're not making enough tax-free money off your labor, they cut you loose. You and your family are suddenly free to starve.

      There are other models, though. We don't have to have corporations, and if we do, they can be forced to be responsible citizens instead of greed machines.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Imaliberaldunce

    POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

    Solid!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. howard

    I must commend all of the protestors that are taking part in the rally against corporate greed around the country and the world. But I must say I feel your efforts are misguided. America was built on capitalism. The companies have a right to make as much profit as they can for themselves and for their stock holders. If you want to make a meaningful statement then boycott their products, boycott their commercial endorsements. They only thing big business feels is when it hurts them in their pockets. I doubt that anyone of you protestors would turn down the salaries and the benefits they are getting paid.
    The truth is it is our government that is failing us. You have government organizations that are in place to protect us from corporate greed and corporate fraud that are not doing their jobs. You have massive amount of fraud and waste on the federal level and state level. You have politicians stealing and lying and misusing our tax dollars, and nobody does anything about it. Why because they are all doing it. You have “not for profits” corporations that are benefiting from our tax dollars with little or no oversight from the people we pay to watch them. This problem transcends all levels of the government. The SEC is so dysfunctional they all should be fired, but they won’t be. Instead their friends give those raises or new jobs.
    So my friends I say this you, you have made your point and it’s a great start. But now the time is to go home, and continue the fight locally. Make sure you vote and put into office people who will do the people biddings. I know this sounds like the tea party but they have 3 core values we can live with. Smaller government, less taxes, more freedoms. We need to get the federal government out of the state’s business. This November get out and vote, send your message loud and clear. Then get ready for July 4, 2012 when we will march on Washington. We need a million people march, and we need to organize it so we all are there on July 4 2012. We will take over the property in front of the Lincoln Memorial, because just as Lincoln freed the slaves from their masters, the people of the United States will free themselves from this dysfunctional government. From around the country we all must march on Washington and plan on staying there until Novembers elections. We need to commander all the yellow busses we own and drive them to Washington.
    REMEMBER JULY 4, 2012 MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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

      I commend you, Howard. You're almost there. The last little piece is to understand that our government is dysfunctional precisely because of those obscene corporate profits. Corporate money determines who gets on the ballot, and who gets elected. An honest person cannot get elected or even run, because elections are awash with corporate cash. Just like corporate advertising tells us what to buy, corporate political contributions (bribes) tell us who we can vote for. It doesn't matter which party we choose, since all the real players have corporate backing.

      So, when they get to Washington, their job is clear. Make life easier for their bosses (and ours), the corporations. The reason this is a Wall St. occupation is because that is where the corruption begins. There is no inherent right for anyone to make (and keep) as much bloody money as they can. It's unAmerican to make obscene profits, because it undermines democracy and the democratic (citizen owned) processes of government. The only reason to have a government is to protect the people and do the things together that we cannot do separately. Right now, we need protection from corporations, many of which are international, not even American. Corporations are the new terrorists.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MarkCali

    We've gotten to the point where a fat man can't stand by a skinny one without coming to the conclusion that the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the skinny. -Ronald Reagan
    Maybe we need to think about whether we want to be a free capitalist nation governed by people we choose, or have those people looking to govern us by fear and coercion of a "better way" under another form of government.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    Can this get any more stupid. Have you seen the interviews with these people on TV? OMG! It is a social event, not really a protest. I'm done with it. I will now switch the channel when I see these bozos on the news. I will no longer read any more of the online news stories. I will skip past the articles in my newspaper. This movement is a joke, the people participating are even more of a joke. Goodbye to the "Copulate on Wall Street" groupies.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SC

    Lets ignore everything that gotten us here! The people protesting and occupying Wall St. are focused on the wrong part of the problem. They are protesting the result of the problem. Not what caused and is still driving the problem. The vast majority of America is consumed with having it all now and paying for it later. They are over leveraged with credit debt. Far out spending verses what they bring in. When you pay 10-20% interest payment on unpaid credit card debt month after month you only increase the profits that much more for those on Wall Street. So of course they can afford to compensate their executives absurd amounts of money. Don't you see, these execs don't command these salaries because they are truly that worth it, it's because the companies that they work for have that much money. Money that you just handed over by swiping your credit card without a moment of thought.

    America is spending absurd amounts of money on things they think they "deserve" and "need". Young 20 somethings thinking they should be able to buy $500k homes, brand new sport cars, Designer shoes because they need to impress people.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    When are they going to start getting mad at their govt.? You know, the govt. that gave all their money to these hated corporations. There will always be people that will try to game they system, problem is our system allows people to game it. Stop the wholesale selling of govt. authority!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • SC

      Are you crazy? No one bites the hand that feeds you.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Nitwon

    Psh. People are making capitalism look like it's an abomination.

    Compare the United States to North Korea and the former Soviet republics. Notice a difference? Yes, there's poverty and income inequality in the U.S....but consider this: how much does the average American make per year? It's actually pretty high compared to those aforementioned "communist" countries.

    Think about it: have you made money in the past year? Do you have a home? A car? Internet access? Food? If you answered yes to those questions, you have a capitalist economy to thank for it. Yes, it's not perfect, and yes, there are "haves" and "have-nots" but it's a whole lot better than those communist countries where poverty is essentially the norm.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      Most liberals chew their own hands off and blame the dog. It'll never change, they're as dumb as rocks.

      POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

      Pass it along, Support these POS People!

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

      You've skewed the comparison. In reality the US is very much like modern-day China, where if you break down the statistics by region and further down by rural vs urban you'll find that the lower end of the income spectrum is very similar to those living in China or even North Korea. And you look at places like Cuba you'll find they have a higher level of literacy and a lower level of infant moratality rate, with a healthcare system that is comparable to the US (in healthcare, not hardware) at a fraction of what we in the US pay. You've also been selective by choosing to ignore countries like Sweden, which fall under the definition of socialism in the US but are superior in every way that counts compared to the US, except militarily of course.

      But keep shouting that the US is #1, I'm sure it'll be true if you yell it loud enough.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. awake

    "In all that we do, may the mind of the many hold sway over the mind of the one."
    no one can predict when, but ultimately, most–if not all–of our social systems will fall apart. this is an integral part of the process that will ultimately lead us to innovative ways of thinking and being and that support humanity as a whole. the elite may wrestle and vie for best positions in terms of wealth and power all they want, but they will not be immune to the inevitable changes that are taking place now, just beneath the comprehension of our 5 senses.
    this is the time of the Nunti Sunya, the era of transparency and equality.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wildbluyonder11

      Put the crack pipe down, dude!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alex Winter

    What do we want?
    WE DON'T KNOW!!
    When do we want it?
    NOW!!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wildbluyonder11

      Classic! I love it!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Woo Hoo! Bill & Ted : )

      October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jamoke

    Where is Eric Cartman when you need him.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wildbluyonder11

    What will you do to EARN the money that you demand the "rich" re-distribute to the "masses". So many of these protesters have no desire to EARN that money, they just demand it. Like those that say "a job is a right". Really? What can you do? What are your qualifications? Do you demand that I give you a job in my factory if you have absolutely no idea how to do the job that I require you to do? Sorry, it just doesn't work that way. Go to school, apply yourself, get a degree or certificate in a USEFUL field of expertise, and you'll do just fine. For those of you majoring in "art history" or "underwater basket weaving", you get what you deserve.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jamoke

    I am part of the 1% so suck it hippies.

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

      Suck this jamoke, The ants ALWAYS win.

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