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. Nicole

    As a Canadian I feel insulted by the migration of this protest. In a country that has enormous regulation and has felt the ripples of the 2008 economic downturn in a much lesser degree than the US, I firmly believe Canadians need to reassess their participation in this protest. WIth the amount of taxes paid and the government involvement in the everyday lives of Canadians, I do not believe these protestors in Toronto should be opposed to a system that helps them more than they realize.

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

      Liberals are stupid as rocks in every country.

      They cut their own hands off and blame the dog.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • snarks

      Liberalism is a mental disorder. They have no idea what they are fighting for. The end result would be the government having full control over every aspect of their neanderthal lives. They are violent ignoramuses, and should all be sent to North Korea so that they can just exactly what it is like when the government has full control.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • pratt

      Or China where they wouldn't be able to get a job......Oh...oops....nevermind.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • snarks

      No, North Korea. And they can be farmers, working for the government, not able to make any choices of their own. This is what the protesters are fighting for, without even knowing it. To be owned by a few people in suits.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      Snarks: Our government is already basically owned by "a few people in suits." Look at the background of people like Geithner and Paulson and others like them. Look at who donates the most to political campaigns and lobbysts (whether on the left or the right). I like democracy and free markets; I don't like crony capitalism and corporatocracy.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • iteach1984

      I'm not very familiar with Canada's situation, but for those who are ignorant enough to say "liberalism is a disorder" or attack it is pretty dumb themselves. They always have to have a need to "label someone" or lable one person to represent the entire group, stereotyping. When they themselves are living up to their own stereotypes. They are quick to insult. I wonder if they would call Jesus Christ a socialist liberal dummy since he was for helping those who had nothing, maybe the same people they would label as being lazy when they aren't. Jesus Christ is my hero, he was for doing his father's work and saving people who needed it the most, well actually saving all of us: tea partiers, liberals, socialist, republicans, democrats, etc.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      Canada also bailed out banks on the taxpayer's dime.
      30Bn if I recall. About 1000 bucks for every man, woman and child.
      And since I support 3 additional people that 4000 off my bottom line.
      More, if you factor in my tax level.

      I had no choice in this.
      And the people who did are all counting their bonuses and laughing their heads off on Bay Street.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pratt

    I see a lot of coverage of this stuff, but what are the top three things these people want? Give me a specific list of the top three things this collective group would change right now if given the chance. It seems that they are just complaining; there are no solutions offered to anything. I don't want to hear things like "a job" or "payoff my student loan", because that's not going to happen by protesting. GIVE ME THREE CHANGES THAT YOU WOULD MAKE TO THE WORLD RIGHT NOW THAT WOULD STOP YOU ALL FROM PROTESTING!!!!!

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

      Why just 3. F U

      October 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • pratt

      Because you don't have any list of changes. Thanks for proving my point.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • wharf0rat

      Specific demands are pointless. The entire greedy capitalist system is rotting away from the inside out. Demands would suggest that there are ways to reform the present system. Those days have passed.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      1. End the Fed.
      2. Overturn Citizens United
      3. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act
      4. End the Wars and cut the trillion-plus dollar defense budget.

      There's three, plus an extra one that should be a good start.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • pratt

      Then why are these people demanding reform by protesting?

      October 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • pratt

      OK Nate, that's a good start, now go to the protest nearest you, and get up to the megaphone with that list and see how the crowd responds.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Poor pratt... getting all upset when things don't conform to your standards... The protests do not require your understanding...

      October 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      I have been to the one near me a few times, but can't stay because of work and other obligations. Those four ideas are pretty popular among the crowds I've been in. If politicians would listen to their citizens instead of their campaign donors, these goals might actually get accomplished and a lot of our problems might get solved.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      What is your point pratt? You say they are just complaining… but isn’t that the same thing you are doing? Besides here I thought it was the job of elected officials to come of policy and run the government.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      1. Transparency
      2. Accountability
      3. Consequences

      October 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Despite all statements, the average request is only one. Current market system and finance system are down. People do not trust them anymore. Now, all people who are responsible for this MASSIVE crash have to be jailed. This the first condition from the protesters. Second: loan bank system should be down. If people have enough money, they would not take loans, right. So, there are two options: destroy the current bank-loan system and do massive increase of the payroll for working people or ... we are going to massive protests everywhere on this planet. No mercy anymore.
      3rd condition: put human life as a top priority (knowledge, health, resources, etc), but not the the size of your pool.
      This time the global crow is going to "eat" you, if you ignore all these conditions are not met.
      Get it?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lee

    Don't blame capitalism, blame heavy handed government action in the market!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      And prey tell WHY do you think government GAVE their heavy hand to control the banks and investment houses' profits??? hmmmmm?????

      October 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • wharf0rat

      Blame the government controlled by capitalists.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aaron

    I am not against Capitalism. I'm against Capitalism buying my elected official and draining the Federal Treasury so there's nothing left for education, health care for the elderly, social security, roads & bridges, etc. The Feds have taken (OUR) money and given it to the biggest corporations in the world and they've put all of us (collectively) in debt to do it. Capitalism is about earning profits based on the value of goods and services sold in a fair market. It is not about stealing money to recover from mis-management or unbridled greed. These Corporations have not earned the tax dollars they have been taking from us. And they DO own the government. Why else would the Feds give them our money? They certainly don't answer to the comman man!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Capitalism in not for human consumption.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • tutati71

      so don't vote for this official. How difficult it is?
      Buying off oficials works only when dumb masses are at hand...

      October 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      100% Hammer -> Nail on head.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ajgorm

    No use trying to explain it anymore. Assume the position and grab a number. All Aboard !

    October 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    A world that worships materialism and greed is bound to go extinct

    October 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. notborncynical

    No, Americans are not viewed as the 1% by the rest of the world. If we were, the world wouldn't be following our lead in this uprising (well, I'd like to see it become an insurrection, a revolution, mutiny, whatever).

    October 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. R Chattan

    There is room for protest, but I couldn't help but notice the number of iPads, iPods, iPhones and Starbucks cups at the demonstration in Chicago. The only thing missing was was a food truck selling truffles. "Methinks thou dost protest too much."

    October 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I agree… the world wide recession is a myth….

      /sarcasm off.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ajgorm

    Blame it on the conservative for the liberal. The liberal can never become a conservative without becomming a hipocrite first.. First came the liberal then came the conservative I think ...

    October 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imaliberaldunce

      All babies are born stupid with the ability to learn.

      Liberals shut the learning part off sometime after 4 years old.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Glad to see you are mumbling away and making not a shred of sense. Keep it up.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bob

    So people in socialist countries protesting because they are not getting enough of the pie shows that you will never be able to make people happy.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joshw

    We see in every movement what we want to see...The pictures of the tea partiers whose movement was financed for free by Fox with countless hours of favorable coverage helped them and I am sure they are doing everything in their power to take the legitimacy away from the wall street movement. People rant that the movement does not have a clear point and I must disagree...the point is clear...the top 10% of money makers have had their incomes increase by 100'S of per cent over the last 30 years and especially the last decade under Bush while the middle class saw theirs fall by 10% and the middle class is being pounded on each day. Wall street and the financial gurus enriched themselves while taking risks with the world economy and socialized their losses and privatize their profits...labor and the working class are considered as weighing down the system rather than being the drivers of the system thru their collective purchases and demand..it was not welfare or healthcare benefits or unions that brought our country to our knees but tax breaks and unfunded wars and borrowing and then rampant irresponsible financial instruments ....so I wish the wall street movemnet would be more focused but we do not want the destruction of the free market but to make it truly free with prudent regulations and tax structures that prevent the wealthy from owning us and keeping the markets only to benefit themselves

    October 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • iteach1984

      What they are protesting against is quite obvious, more so than in any other protest.

      They are protesting against greed, corruption and control of rich and big corporations to suck money out of financial systems. They can't tell you what rule to make and how to regulate banks or financial systems, that is what greedy people and governments have to figure out, but they can generate a strong opinion which can eventually force these people to correct things.

      You simply don't need any mathematics to understand that while millionaires have grown their income/assets 10 folds the average person has lost 1/3rd of their income/assets. Add to this the fact that with this change the economy is now no more moving. Why? because these rich peoples are sucking up money using different arbitrary rules and financial acrobatics.

      A common man uses most of his money as a consumer, mostly more than 80%, while these people who collect money in multi-millions and multi-billions use a tiny fraction of that money and rest remains invested to attract more money without greasing the economy. A consumer driven economy is bound to fail when your main consumers have no money and only sellers have money.

      Today, the situation is that sellers have all the money and very little need to buy anything, while buyers have no money to buy anything.

      I think these protests are mere starting points the real revolution will happen in next 2-3 years, when middle class will be left with no other objective but to revolt.

      Also, when did the yahoo users start using CNN? You guys know who I'm talking about, the crazy tea party people who make no sense.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gordo

    That's odd.
    Nothing from Moscow, Havana or Beijing

    C'mon CNN, give us those pictures and stories.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin Johnson (aka Alonjar)

    I have opinions on this.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ajgorm

    Clinton begged the conservatives to give the liberals a sub prime break and they all deregulated ..... We learned that we cant loan money to people that cant afford the loan... we sent all their jobs south so they could not find work even if they tried.to find work.. .Uhhhuhhh,,

    October 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. usstrong

    They should get rid of all political parties. They will never see eye to eye and the only thing they worry about is getting the next guy out if hes not in their party. Its all a bunch of Horse *hit. What about all of the millions spent and raised for campaigns? Isnt there something better to be done with that money?

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

      Then were would all of the sheep go?

      October 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
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