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. normalice

    i'm glad the world gets to see that all americans aren't easily tricked conservative fatties with an overdeveloped sense of enti tlement, for once.

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

      You're glad to support these POS People! (People Occupying Streets)!

      Yes, these guys will come out with arms flailing and an aura of dumb resonating from their skulls to accomplish this ONE THING:

      Guarantee another democrat never gets elected.

      I'm all for it. Support these POS People!!

      October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JB

    I agree with protesters 100%. On principle. I just feel the weapon is rather tame and wrong. Now we got the numbers, let's get together and stop paying altogether, that'll show them.

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

      So I keep seeing mention of the banks, but no one says anything about GM and Chrysler. They took our money too.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Storm the Bastille!!

    Viva la global Revolution!! Tea Partiers – please wait your turns at the guillotines!

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

      You're dumb. Shut up. – Kat Williams

      October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea For Me Please

      That's a profoundly astute TP response

      October 17, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ssa

    This is being orchestrared by the whiny little cnts of unions in the states


    October 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • thelibtard

      If so then be very afraid ! The movement has gone global now, Tea bagger.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ssa


    October 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • capnmike

      screw africa...nothing but a huge welfare state sucking the world dry.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      I have to agree with cap on this one.

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

    Socialism and Capitalism doesn't work!!! NOW... What do we do? We don't have economic pioneers like JOHN LOCKE, KARL MARXIST, John Maynard Keynes .... The whole country is stuck with terrorism, inflating economy, and greed. What do we need to do?!?!

    Our economy was once perfect... Later 2008... IT got worst and worst....

    October 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kevin Johnson

    The banking sector is corrupt. People are angry that the repeal of Glass-Steagall has allowed commercial banks to turn back into investment banks, the result of which was the financial meltdown of 2008. They're also angry because more and more people are learning how the Federal Reserve banking system works, and think its insane that banks can, for example, borrow from the fed at almost no interest, and turn right back around and lend that same money to the treasury at 2 or 3 percent interest... basically printing free money, and footing tax payers with the bill.

    They suggest – Reintroduction of banking regulations and some monopoly busting. Too big to fail? Too big to exist.

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


      October 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. brant3

    The bottom line is that citizens have the sinking feeling that government is pulling us all down the tubes.

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

      So true.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ssa


    October 17, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin Johnson

    The current corporate system encourages executives to achieve short term profits at the expense of long term success. CEO's slash and burn companies in order to get a quick rise in stock "value", so they can exercise their options and cash out. Once they've "got mine", they jump ship with their golden parachute, leaving a damaged company behind.
    We need to – Introduce regulation to the derivitives markets, and perhaps progressively tax short term investments over long ones. Only owned a stock for a minute and 38 seconds? Pay a higher tax on your profits than the guy who held it for a year. Remove the Capital gains tax, and charge the normal income rate for your tax bracket. Also big support for introducing transaction taxes... small fees attached to each trade to discourage things like HFT manipulation.

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

      CEO's slash and burn companies in order to get a quick rise in stock "value",

      This is EXACLTY what Herman Cain't did at Godfather Pizza. Closed stores by the hundreds, laid off thousands. Then when it became "profitable" he turned to the parent company bought the chain in a sweetheart deal and then proceeded to sell off things again so that now the chain is run only as kiosks in other stores, with litterally a shell of its former self. And this a$$hat is the front runner and boy vunderkind of the TOP (Teabagging ole Party)

      Herman Cain't

      October 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. walkitback2000

    We are about to be plunged into another dark ages as capitalism is destroyed thanks to the we want it, therefore it is our right class of people that continues to spread around the world. lenin is smile from hell as we speak.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. capnmike

    The main problem with this whole thing is that these naive protesters think that Socialism or Communism will solve the problem. NOT A SINGLE BENEFIT TO THE HUMAN RACE HAS EVER COME FROM SOCIALISM...only suffering, corruption, and misery. Look at what has happened to Venezuela ...in 11 years Hugo Chavez's "socialismo" has all but destroyed the nation. Most of the "rich" people I know got there through hard work and sacrifice...is this a crime? Granted, there is undue influence of money bon politics, but Socialism will not solve that.

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

      You do know socialism and communism are different things right? Communism is every one owns the same amount. Socialism is the government owns everything.

      October 17, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      Well capnmike, if you then feel that, come up with a better solution, cause what we got now ain't working for the masses and you what...the Ants always win.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin Johnson

    Get the money out of Washington. OWS protesters feel that both Republicans and Democrats will claim/say whatever it takes to get elected, and in the end they all pander to Corporations over the people. They do this, of course, because Corporations (and rich people who own them) are the ones who hire lobbyists and fund campaigns.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. zack

    how about these people occupy a workplace instead – as in get a job!

    October 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. annoyingcnn

    Anytone notice the "Opinion: Blacks right to reject Cain"?

    could that guy be more racist? CNN You should be ashamed for posting such a Racist and insensitive article.

    20 buck says it goes away from their front page in less than 3... 2... 1...

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