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. dosaking

    its the last days fellows..

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

      POS – Protesters Occupying Streets.

      Pass it along and support these POS People!

      Only through ignorance and violence will they change the world. Go POS's GO!!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dreamer96

    I know some of the OWLS are unset that after 3 years, no one has been charged with a crime in the Mortgage Back Derivatives scam...They knowingly sold bad derivatives to valuable customers, and bet againist them, hoping they would fail, and the internal company emails show the company knew the derivatives were troubled....Goldmann Sach also did this with Greece, to help them hide Greece's true level of debt....These are crimes, why no arrests?

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

      The banks were force by Gov. regulations to loan money to people that they knew could not pay it back – your boy's Barnie Frank and Chris Dodd. They are why the banks were selling these loans off ot protect themselves from the coming loss but it was too little too late. Why aren't Barnie and Chris in jail? Oh yeah they're libs and libs get a pass. Bush worned them since 2001 that this was coming and that Freddy and Fanny needed to be regulated but you're lib buddies blocked it.

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

      Because they are doing exactly what Obama and Soros and the rest of the libs want that's why.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I work for a major bank… there was no arm twisting going on. . It was simply all about how much we could make NOW..

      October 17, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hhgJWKA

    it's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

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

    People are disappointed that the government is corrupt, so they blame capitalism and those who have worked for a living? I guess they missed the starvation under communism that killed over 300 million, and the Axis that killed over 40 million. I do not see any concern for social justice, just the hate and cruelty we have seen so many times in the past.

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

      Actually I do not consider what they do on Wall St. as "earning a living" They are parasites.

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

      50% of the people in the top 1% inherited their wealth from their parents. No hard work was done by them and they have no idea of the value of the wealth they posses. Plus, I don't care that they are rich, I care that they have been pocketing most of the profits from the increase in efficiency and productivity that the middle class and machinery have brought forth while the middle class's wages have, when adjusted for inflation, fallen.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dirt

    Globalization has increased the gap between the rich and poor by allowing companies to off-shore jobs and manufacturing to third world countries which has created unemployment in first world countries. The cost savings the companies gained from moving the jobs to low cost areas has not been passed on to the consumers but instead was passed on to shareholders and CEOs. This is the reason the gap between the rich and poor (middle class too) has grown so much in the last 25 years. If you want to pull up the third world then the first world has to come down – and the super rich are not being impacted.

    So the issue is governments have not managed globalization effectively or with the majority of their citizens interests in mind and that isn't going to be easy to correct. NAFTA, WTO, IMF, etc – these items have not worked on behalf of average citizens in first world countries. They have worked for the super rich and the citizens of third world countries – and they expect the middle class in the first world countries to pay the bill. Liberals, conservatives, socialists and capitalists are to blame. All these groups supported Globalization for various reasons – and none of them took the time to consider the real impact it would have on the middle class.

    So if you are going to protest – protest the real issue which is the poor management of Globalization.

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

      100% correct.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ajgorm

    Gw is Humpty Dumpty ! Obama will try to put it back together again. We learned more from nursery rhymes than we did in school. HEY !

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

      You should stick to stacking your lego's. Once you get past that point you'll be able to start in on the 5 year old activities...

      October 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ajgorm

    WoW ..sense or since or cents ...Does any of it make sense ! If you cant beat them it is time to join em. Go ask Alice I think she will know !

    October 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. notborncynical

    We need a great leader like Teddy Roosevelt or Abe Lincoln that really wants to make things right. The candidates showing up so far are a long way from these great men. Even if they were, once they have to deal with congress, lobbyists and the big money banks and corporations they won't stand a chance anyway. The whole system is crap, and you know what they say about crap – it rolls downhill.

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

      I agree. However both of those presidents would be considered flaming liberals by the current Republican Party.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ken

    Obama has caused civil unrest over the entire world. All it took was one corrupt Chicago Democrat, incompetent and ignorant to destroy civilization.

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

      Boy are you right. Without capitalism these idots on the streets would be hungry and not have the clothes they have or food. If I were a parent of any of the nitwits I would no longer give them a penny.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tom

    well, i personally think that those who work on wall street need to make me a sandwich.

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

    The Message Today::::::::One of our major bills is ENERGY. One of our major fights or divorce is over ECONOMICS. So give us all GREEN JOBS so 20 years from now we all have FREE ELECTRCITY. So a major bill would be removed HYDRO for ALL, its not like its a luxury without it my family dies come winter! The divorce rate drops and more family's stop arguing, over lack of money leave kids alone,,, trying to maintain a relationship while MOM and DAD try to juggle 3 jobs between them. So just a simple as that 30% of our ENERGY spent working for ENERGY breaks down the family unit VALUES,,,The reason GREEN IS BAD TO EXPENSIVE UNHEALTHY shh its the " BANKS " that say this, they are horrified when we don't NEED to buy it from them.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • scieng

      Guess what. "Green" energy costs more because more energy is required to capture it. The first law of thermodynamics is that you can't get something for nothing. "Green" energy also requires massive additions, or changes to infrastructure–more cost. Want to lower energy costs? Use sources that provide more energy per cost, and lower the costs to getting it. Solar and wind are great sources of energy, but the capture method costs are far above fossil fuels–and require sources of materials in other countries.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Oh really capt science. It costs more to pump a barrel of oil out of the ground and the petro-based inneficiencies from transporting, burning of said oil, and the requisite clean up of said oil. There is 10 calories of oil energy in ever 1 calorie of food. That is unsustainable. No matter the cost today of solar and wind, use it and it will come down in price. What, you don't believe in market forces making the costs of production less. But I thought you were a capitalist MeinKompf.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scieng

    Americans can still out-produce anyone in the world, and wages are not the issue. It is not the workers who pushed jobs overseas, it is our government who created so many restrictions and costs to hiring that did. And Obama has almost doubled those costs, and these "progressives" will likely vote for him again. If these people wanted jobs, they would be promoting business, not working to shut it down even more than Obama.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • lch

      Very well said!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      The cost of hiring a worker has gone down over the last 3 years not up. You are blowing wind up our shorts. The government's cost of regulation holds no sway to hiring as these are just passed to the consumer. Your crony capitalistic thieves are the ones who moved jobs overseas because the costs over there are just ridiculously low, as their standard of living is 3rd world status. HELLO, do you REALLY think the middle class America is going to just give up all they have accomplished over the last 100 years because the bailed out corporate fvcks want to make America into a third world country. I think not. I would much rather see Rome burn to the ground than let the FVCKERs on Wall St. win. Burn it down... preferably with them in it.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      It has nothing to do with the government. It’s the litter syndrome. Big corporations send jobs overseas to pay lower wages and yes dodge regulations. This for a single company is actually a good strategy. However when everyone is doing it … it becomes a global issue. Most companies are recording record profits, so this none sense about regulation making it to expensive is just republican rhetoric redirecting the blame of their corporate sponsors. If you have issues with accountability feel free to use only Chinese goods. She how long you keep your health.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      You are certainly producing a lot of_something_ this evening scieng

      October 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    Only American conservatives, along with other Religious extremists throughout the world, are the ONLY ones against it... I just hope that Occupy stays on target... We, can and will, change the world 🙂

    October 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyingcnn

      And how will you do that you POS? (People Occupying Streets)

      Oh got nuttin! Just hot air, ignorance, and a liberalCNN trying to inflate your water balloon heads?

      Only thing you're changing is dropping the chance of another democrat being elected in the next 100 years. I'm all for it!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • lch

      Matt please don't speak for everyone. I know many people on both sides of the isle that do not support this movement. It is fine if you do and that is your right but you do not have the right to bash me for my views. Regarding your changing the world, would you please care to tell us what exactly this change will be because to date this movement has talked about generalities. Saying I hate this and I hate that does not change anything.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      @annoyingcnn- First, I have studied and done a lot of research on this and they ARE right. I, unlike you, are a skeptic and a scientist. I check FACTS before I say things, you do NOT. And CNN is FAR more conservative than ANY other news source other than Faux News

      October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      @Ich- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street

      Also, modern American cons ARE religious extremists (as is the view from the rest of the world)

      October 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ssa

    Stfu you f dipsh-tsThe only way that will happen is a one world government and you think china is gonna want to support a bunch of spoiled uncle f dipsh-ts because you don't like economic and technological progress.

    ADAPT OR DIE. NO MORE DEMOCRATIC BLLSHT. It's the global economy stupid.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Does it not strike anyone else as odd that the governments are taking a global movement so easily? Almost like this has all been planned for... It may be the paranoid pessimist in me, but I think plans have been laid. Illuminati anyone?

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

      Welcome to The NWO ! (no way out)

      October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      What do you expect them to do? Start k!lling nonviolent protesters on national Tv? That would only make the demonstrations more powerful. /Obi Wan

      October 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
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