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."

Rekyjavík, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in Rekyjavík, Iceland.

"The people were angry and said what the think about the financial system in Iceland and all over the world," he said. "They want the government to stop helping those that are responsible for the banking crisis while the public gets little help."


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. Big_D

    The radical division in classes that led to the Khmer Rouge should be your warning not your joke. Neglected social needs can be whipped up into a violent communist revolution very quickly. If the revolution starts all the money in the world will not help you if your dead.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • annoyingcnn

      Support the People Occupying Streets (POS)!

      These POS People will make sure a Democrat never gets into office in the next 100 years. SUPPORT THEM!!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • wood

      Wall street protest does not = anti-capitalism. Global "support" = Anti-capitalism. Don't confuse it. The protest outside the US is supporting the perceived notion that the Wall street protesters are protesting capitalism.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveL

      Big D...That remark was just plain stupid...Do you like bending over for the top 1%?...Do you not feel you deserve a reasonable quality of life for your contribution?...Of course you do!... It's gone beyond being succesful for the top...It's just plain greed....Turn off Fox and don't allow your prejudices to blind you to the point of shooting yourself in the foot

      October 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ann

    Obama is inciting all of this. He is NOT a president in any shape or form, he is a troublemaker. They should be protesting this guy who has costs us so dearly, along with his cohorts Barney Frank who ruined the housing industry and Holder and all the THUGS in his administration.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vincent Miller

      And you are blind, hateful and the least educated person here. Thank you for showing the world what you people are about.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gop

      Very good points and I agree. But keep in mind that is the only job Obama knows anything about and that is protesting. it is just now he has a bigger box to stand on!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Morrall

      Ironically, it was Barney Frank trying to ensure that all of the 99% could find a way to buy a house that led to this.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ficheye

      Ann, I'm sure that you are many things, but smart is not one of them.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • South Texan

      Actually, Obama is incidental. His voice is much less-than any of the voices of the protesters. On the other hand, it's hard to imagine a more ill-conceived, meaningless protest in recent memory. What's the point? It seems to be, "I'm frustrated with things". Wow, the stupidity is staggering.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gop

      @Vincent Miller Sir you are blind, hateful and the least educated person here. the problem is people like you that allowed Obama to be elected in the first place. he has done nothing but harm this great country and people like you just wish to help him destroy our country and you are nothing but a mindless tool!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ficheye

      GOP: If you can't look out at the world and see what's wrong with it, you are blind. All you are doing is saying the equivalent of "I'm rubber and you're glue... etc". And your ranting about how this is a great country is delusional. We WERE a great country until the unregulated capitalists found ways to steal every last dime and convince people like you that it's "American" to be that greedy. Read some history. Read about the opium wars, where there was such a trade imbalance in the 1800's that the US and Britain grew opium poppies in India and sold it to China, addicting thousands and thousands of people. Yeah. A great country all right. And you are fooled into believing in your redneck philosophy. A sad and small minded person you are.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gop

      See Ficheye it is people like you that cry about things being fair. The problem is nothing is fair! You worry about things that happened in in the 1800’s. Wow how stupid can you be. The past is just that the past. You learn from mistakes but you do not try to repeat them. What does opium poppies in India and sold it to China have to do with today? When someone like me calls this a great country it opens the door for ignorant people like you to speak of the past like it has barring on the events of today. Sorry you are so upset with something none of us today had anything to do with what went on back in the 1800’s. I find it odd that you worry more about how unregulated capitalists steal your money but do not have a problem with the Government doing far worst. I guess because as long as the Government steals from these greedy capitalists and send people like you a welfare check you over look whatever it is the Government forces on its people. No the sad small-minded person is you. Take a good look at yourself because you are far worst then the people you call names. Just because I do not believe in your ignorant worldview, does not mean I live in the south and happen to be a redneck as you think. I am from the north you pompous little ignorant fool. Not every one has the same Socialist view of the country as you do. A good many here believe it is a great country and being capitalists is far better then being an ignorant Socialist as you are. Maybe if you had a working philosophy you appreciate the things we have here. However, I knew this goes over your head because your small mind cannot fathom what I wrote.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    The largest cities like London may have a few thousand, but more likely hundreds. Worldwide there are maybe 20,000 protesters. that's out of 7 billion people. I'd say rather than the 99% this movement is all about a very noisy .00003%

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

      really? thats your reasoning?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ficheye

      And what, exactly are you saying, Mike? This is just the beginning. The initial protests may die down, but as people see how impossible their lives are becoming it will surge up again. Guaranteed.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2manyfreaks

      Did you ever hear the phrase" Tip of the Iceberg"? My wife and I have not been part of the visual presence..but we are completely fed up with 1%ers. If you are not fed up you need to wake up. This coutnry is broken for the majority who live in it. The middle and lower class always pick up the tab eventually and that's not how it should be!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2manyfreaks

      Too much corruption. Everybody looking to get over. Country first mentallity is dead for most. ME ME ME ME ME

      October 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      Actually, no. There was about 5,000 just in London.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alientech

    Capitalism sucks. Let's try Communism, it worked really well last time it was tried.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea for Me Please

      Those Chinese communists are kicking our capitalist butts.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • South Texan

      Actually, the Chinese Capitalists are hungrier than we are. Our form of capitalism needs sharper focus. Socialism is dead.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Research

      It's not about making a new economic system, it's about removing corporations from politics and getting the US out of the wealth inequality that is equivalent to the wealth inequality in Latin American countries.

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

    Crybabies. All of you.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. r-hope

    I've said it before and I say it again: OW may not have a cohensive agenda or cause... They have been dismissed as layabouts with nothing to do, and nothing to lose. BUT they do have this one thing: VOTES. All they need is a politician to ride their wave... Watch this space

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

      Probably won't help too much when the flea baggers are voting for 20 different candidates.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea for Me Please

      It's the teabaggers with the bevy of wacko candidates!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillV

      Wacko candidates that got elected and are seeing to it that the government doesn't waste money bailing out anyone else.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigNumber5

      Ack this always happens. I wish blogging was around in MLK's pomp.

      We'd have seen all this tired bollocks come out exactly the same. Socialism, Communism, Layabouts, Get a job, Get an education, Get a wash etc.

      And yet now a 30' statue overlooks the tidal basin in the core of US power.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JoeSeattle

    I like the "capitalism is crisis" sign. As if anything that has been going on in banking, stock market, and gov't sponsored enterprises is capitalism. Those would be chronyism, fraud, and fascism.

    Real capitalism is only problematic for the lazy and stupid, and only then if they can't except that the lazy and/or stupid justly deserve a smaller piece of the pie.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mary

    I'm glad people are speaking up.. We have let the greedy sneer and ridicule for too long..
    Blaming the victim, and trying to shut them up with ridicule is over. People are not asking for handouts.. All they are asking for is fair play..
    The rich have taken this to a whole new level.. One of total world wide corruption and greed..
    It's playing out all over the world.. And has for years.. We see the starving people in Africa and forget it's a rich nation.. With many many rich living in it..
    Its the poor that are pushed to the brink of extinction..While the rich build their homes where they don't have to look at or deal with the results.
    We never thought this would happen in America.. We thought we were too smart for that.. But it did.. And now there is a huge outcry... A huge protest..
    Did they really think it wouldn't happen? 🙁
    History proves people rise up against oppression.. And history always repeats its self..~!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Of course the flea-baggers are not asking for handouts. It's not a handout to demand student loans be forgiven, deliquent mortagages be forgiven, free jobs, free healthcare, free food, comfortable retirement – all at somebody elses expense.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Willie12345

    There is plenty of room for the socialists in Cuba. Boat loads of socialists are leaving the US at the very moment .

    October 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff

    The global flea-baggers.....Lets form a central committee with our first order of business to "get a clue". We have to do this by 4 pm though....Mom has dinner on the table at 5.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea for Me Please

      Tea fools, please wait your turn at the guillotines

      October 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin Johnson

    Explanation of a leaderless movement: Leaderless movements are the direct result of social networking, which has given birth to social consciousness. This means that we no longer need a charismatic salesman to pitch his ideas to people in a convincing way. In our world, all it takes is for one guy, a nobody, some Joe Schmoe working in a McDonalds in Missouri, to come up with a Good Idea. He then puts his Good Idea on the internet... where other people evaluate it objectively, say to themselves.. hey, this is a GREAT Idea! and proceed to share it with their friends, and so on and so forth until you have an idea that has propagated all around the world, with millions of people saying "I really support this GREAT Idea!"... and it has all been done,*** based on nothing but that ideas own merit.***

    We don't need leaders, because we don't need to be biased by the source of that idea. You cant cut down an idea because it came from a Democrat, or a Republican, or a tea partier, or a hobo. If the idea is good enough, it will stand on its own... and it doesn't matter who is peddling it. The result, is that all the GREAT Ideas rise to the top, and bad ideas are dismissed and die off. This is what current leaders fear, because there is no focal point. The media wants a leader, so that everyone can begin the process of attempting to cut the head from the snake. If you can focus on one person, you can focus on his faults. No... I'm afraid this time, with our leaderless movement, you will have to attack the ideas themselves. That my friends, is a much harder task than simple character assassinations.

    A side effect of this is that while everyone in the movement agrees on the same core principals, everyone also has their own slew of bad ideas/fringe beliefs... but thats OK. The whole point is that they pitch those bad ideas, and everyone goes "Holy shiat, this guys a dumbfark" and they move on.. searching for better ideas.

    What you are currently seeing on the news with "dirty hippies" who "dont know why they are there" is simply the early process of weeding and sorting those ideas.

    It is a movement, not an interest group. It is a shifting of ideology, which will be needed to make wide systemic changes.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillV

      Let's go camp out downtown and just start yelling about the first crap that pops into our minds.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don Poirier

      Well stated Kevin. I was at the Occupy Phoenix event on Saturday, my first demonstation in my 50 years. There were times when I wished there was a leader, someone to coordinate, get information out, etc. But you're points are valid. The opposition can tear down a person, or small group or organizers .... but they cannot kill a great idea, a movement, in the hands of thousands of people.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elfonzo

    @ken I doubt Obama's presence is so important that he single-handedly caused total global unrest. It was the result of a lot of factors, and my guess is it goes even as far back as WWI. All the political shifts of that age shaped the wars being fought and all the political/theo-political power plays being made today.

    I just hope it never gets as bad as that again. But it looks like it's well on its way.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DaveL

    There are several issues the protesters want addressed...All are reasonable and understandable...However, here in America we should begin our focus on reversing the Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations to donate as much as they would like to political campaigns...They are not people and it is already allowing for far more corruption then previously existed...I think this is something all Americans can agree on regardless of party preference and a good starting point to curb Wall Street's influence.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    Stop funding Wall Street, Start funding Science!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. william monroe

    It is interesting that now that it is impossible for the main stream media to avoid covering the Occupy protests that they now are trying to discredit the protests by saying the people don't know why they are protesting. We hear this over and over again as if it isn't obvious what people are protesting about. This shows how disconnected and out of touch the media hacks actually are. They can't figure out what the protests are about. How sad for them. They must not live in the same world the rest of us inhabit.

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