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. Virgil

    The United States should be very concerned when OWS spreads worldwide. For the rest of the world, Americans ARE the 1%.

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

      Newest OWS Acronym:

      POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

      Support these POS People, They're out there doing nothing for nobody cause they have nothing on their resume! SUPPORT THEM!!!

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

      To those trying so hard to discredit the mass movement worldwide: Calling names when you ran out of arguments? Just to balance your opinion, my resume is very wide and deep. I've been employed for close to 40 years. And I protested in the streets last week, against corruption, unfair practices, corporate welfare, cuts in education, braking up unions, lack of oversight and regulations towards Wall St. and banks, lax worker protections, increasing gap between rich and poor, profits over people, profits over environmental priorities, expensive health care, disenfranchisement of the youth and lack of investment in our children. The issues seem very diverse but the principles are the same. Greed running unchecked only benefits the richest 1% at the expense of the 99%. Stop the name calling and hate and join the rest of us.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      For the rest of the world,
      America is in general terms considered a lunatic asylum.
      We watch you as you would watch a car wreck.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom Debley

    Occupy Wall Street has gone global because it is demanding social justice for the economically suffering, a moral cry that is not being heard from or by business and political leaders.

    In the U.S., dedication of the monument to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the National Mall last weekend should challenge all of us to stand up for economic justice. We need a million Americans to “Occupy the National Mall” in his memory – to tell Congress economic justice is demanded in our time. We can and will overcome.

    King reminds us we have overcome greed and abuses of business before, and can do it again. There’s an important strain of American Protestantism that stands with King. As a student at Crozer Theological Seminary, King was influenced by the Social Gospel’s “emphasis…that the Christian religion must not only be concerned about saving the individual soul but also dealing with the social evils that corrupt the soul.”

    The father of the American Social Gospel was theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, who came out of an 11-year pastorate at the Second Baptist Church in New York City’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” of which he wrote, "When I saw how men toiled all their life long, hard toilsome lives, and at the end had almost nothing to show for it; how strong men begged for work and could not get it in the hard times; how little children died – oh, the children's funerals! They gripped my heart – that was one of the things I always went away thinking about – why did the children have to die?"

    In 1908, through the Federal (now National) Council of Churches many denominations signed on to the Social Creed of the Churches to stand against abuses. In 1932, it was revised to address conditions during the Great Depression. And, in 2008, the National Council of Churches recast it again as the Social Creed for the 21st Century.

    We’ve been here before, and we are here again with vast numbers of unemployed, people having lost their homes, children going to bed hungry every night. We’ve been here before, and we have stood in mass – and conscience – to change it. It is time to arise again around the monument to stand with one of the greatest social justice leaders our nation has ever seen.

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

      I fell asleep just after I read "Tom".

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

      "I fell asleep just after I read "Tom"."

      Of course you did, there wasn't a fart joke or poop reference in the first sentence to grab your attention. Hey, I think "ouch my balls" is on...

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

      It is interesting that those who say they promote justice advocate promoting more poverty as their answer to poverty. If everyone is poor, they will feel better. Calling this Christian is just another lie. If social justice is the answer, then let's reward the productive, break down the barriers to people being productive, and get more people working–not just promoting hate and total economic destruction.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ajgorm

    They will tell you that you borrowed too much it was not the banks fault. It is your fault because you should have expected the governmment to outsource your job and that the job you had would be the last one you get that could pay a loan. it is your fault that the government insured your loan with your job and now has to pay your loan for you you should have known that the government would not regulate what they insured for you.

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

      Hey dick , the government doesn't outsource jobs. Stop listening to Limbaugh and Fox. The government does not outsource jobs. You sound oh so stupid repeating that stupid meme.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Byrd

    Time to sharpen the guillotine...or maybe dull it to match the long suffering the 1% have brought to this world with their wars and greed. Time for them to see the world from our perspective instead of the false one they create on the television and in the news.

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

      Trace America's fall back, and it lands right in Fox TV creation date. Fox created the most baseless shows to try and compete with the big 3, and that started the run to the bottom. Then they changed the market forces of the news by bringing it into the entertainment divisions and that started the demise of the fourth estate. Then they sued for the RIGHT to lie on the news, and put the shotgun to the head of journalism. FOX has been the bane of this country. ALL its licenses should be stripped, All the Murdochs and Ailes and the other high ups should be jailed INSTANTLY.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Kevin, who wrote at 3:14 PM, lost his job and found another one in two weeks.
    I don't know Kevin at all, but I know this about him: Kevin can do some kind of work that somebody else needs, and he does it well enough to be hired.
    I also noticed that Kevin writes correctly in English.
    Also, it figures that if he found another job in two weeks, he started looking for a new job right away.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kuwait_999

    Why not Occupy CHINA?

    October 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      By occupying Wall St, this is essentially what they have done.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ron Nader

    Tea Party and GOP right wing are shaking in their boots and calling the occupiers, Nazi and Commie... LOL gotta love it...

    October 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • brooklynRob

      Hahaha, I don't think anybody is really afraid of the OWS people, they are just offended by their smell.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. redwine9991

    this is not right vs left. This crooks vs honest people. Where are the indictments?

    October 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      This is most certainly Left against everything that is right.

      So Support these POS (People Occupying Streets) People!

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

    We need Teddy Roosevelt!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • wharf0rat

      That would work. Believe it or not, the Republicans once had progressives before their party was hijacked by criminals and right-wing ideologues.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MarkCali

    Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves. – R. Reagan

    See the pattern here? Agreen with Nitwon – We're trading a hand full of promises for a representative democracy that we, through our own votes, allow poverty over the people's consensus. Blame the heroes in Washington over the companies that employ us.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. notborncynical

    Hey Humtake, you are way off course. These protestors don't want to be rich, they just want a job and fair taxes without the government playing free and easy with their hard earned money. The system is broken – that's the whole point. It's going to take a tremendous outcry and action from very courageous, smart people to make it right. This is a revolution!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Anybody who thinks that "redistribution of wealth" will solve economic problems has no understanding of the problems.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • wharf0rat

      The upward redistribution of wealth that has been occurring since the so-called Reagan Revolution has caused this problem. Now it's time for some downward redistribution.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mgarci11

    Every day, I'm standing outside trying to sing my way in:
    We are hungry, please let us in We are hungry, please let us in

    After about a week that song is gonna change to: We hungry, we need some food

    After two, three weeks, it's like: Give me the food Or I'm breaking down the door

    After a year you're just like: I'm picking the lock Coming through the door blasting

    – 2pac

    October 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. wharf0rat

    In this present crisis, capitalism is not the solution to our problem; capitalism is the problem

    October 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marsha

    This is so great!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
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