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. Joker

    Idiots, all of them. I got a good idea, lets tear down the system so we can put in what? You mean you don't have a good alternative, you are all jokers.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea for Me Please

      They have plenty of solutions. Most of them are college graduates. This means you probably won't be able to understand anything they write.

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

      might want to inform them "they are smart and have solutions"

      That way they can stop looking like a bunch of loser dunces without jobs blaming society for their worthlessness.

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

      No, there idea is that we'll have "a conversation" to figure it all out. They're children of the Internet and that's what they do. They have conversations about things with the hope that some grand scheme will emerge. If anything emerges, it won't be a grand scheme, but it might be ugly.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • worktolive

      I agree with you 100%. And just a reply to "No Tea for Me Please" most college graduates I have known have book smarts but little or NO common sense. If they are so damn smart why aren't they working instead of spending weeks protesting? Can't find jobs? Or can't find jobs that pay what they "think" they are worth? These younguns are spoiled brats!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • mary

      Worried much? Worried the rich might have actually screwed themselves over.. ??
      Thats the price every bully must be willing to pay..It's the price of taking a stand against people.. When you hope to shove people in the mud.. You have to be wiling to risk the fact they might get back up....

      October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. croszell

    I'm aware that much of the protests are nebulous and I suppose more of a collective concern. I am, I believe, representative of the fundamental issue. I am in my 40's, I have a Masters degree. I believed that having a higher education (including student loans, which I managed to pay) was the proper thing to ensure a more secure future. I have a mortgage, family and usual bills. I am careful with spending and debt. Ten years successful in my position and well regarded. When the recession moved in, my organization "redesigned" and laid everyone off. They created new positions (combining multiple into one) or 2 part time as to not pay benefits as well as less salary. I have been unemployed for 5 months and can only find HS diploma or equivelant (and the accompanying pay) or very specific medical and such positions of which is not my area. There is no middle class in the job arena.

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

      If this is the case, why are young people marching against Wall Street? Why aren't they marching against our government who sent our factories oversees? Look at NAFTA? Why are they so against the rich-this is America and folks do have the right to make of their life what they can. Our government is importing from China, Vietnam, Korea, etc. everything the US used to manufacture. BLAME UNCLE SAM! Obama is doing NOTHING to stop this and bring our jobs back home.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • You can smell it

      I too am in my 40's and college educated and agree. I like being in the 99% because that 1% looks really ugly right about now.

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

    Its the end of the world as we know it...

    October 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Otto

    Get rid of the party of NO and all the ignorant people who back them, with out the common sense or knowledge that they are going down the tube like every one else.
    Most posters who are against the Occupy event are just as poor and are out of a job, but their ignorance show they are like pit bulls, prefer to suffer than to make a better life. I call this hate, the hate than began in January 2009 when a MUTT became president. That hate will continue until they regain the White House that was built by black slaves.

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

      You are nutty as a co......well never mind.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. howardfine

    It's pretty condradictory. the 99% is angry that the banks were bailed out by the government and yet they are rallying for more government control? a more socialist government? by using tax payers money, the governemtn bailed out the banks. So people protest on the street so that we can have a government that will once again use tax payers money to bailout, not just the banks, but everyone who doesn't feel like going to work. jeez.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      You TP folk just don't get it. It's the GOP banking deregulation that led to the mortgage crisis. But I won't delve into macroeconomics cuz' you won't have a clue.

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

      There is much more depth here than you acknowledge. If you truly don't see it, you should attend a rally and talk to some of the participants. You might be surprised. If, on the other hand, you are simply sarcastic and choose not to know what is going on...then you are part of the problem and hopefully will be able to change over time...good luck with yourself in either case.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • KanyeEast

      No, its the guaranteed loans banks were forced to make by Dems that allowed people like those on OWS to own a honme and not have a way of paying for it.


      October 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Maybe you Dem's don't get it was largely Barney Frank & Chris Dodd manipulating fannie Mae/Freddy Mac to extend credit to anybody – no questions asked?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • wally

      People aren't protesting because the don't want to work... they're protesting because there is no WORK to go to.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Not Serious

    We will still #OccupyOuterSpace long after Wall Street has crumbled to dust http://www.facebook.com/?q=#/pages/Occupy-Outer-Space/123256797781729

    October 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeride

    It cannot be business as usual. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer and politicians are in bed with big business. It is sad and it is wrong!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    If you really want to discredit the flea-baggers, just take pictures of any rally and ask anybody at random why there there and what they want.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      Profound topical prose by another arrogant, belittling teabagger

      October 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      ...it would be "why they are there"...and if you are looking for ignorance, you need not leave home.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MIKE B


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

      What is your problem with the wealthy? Why is it impossible to believe that a lot of people who earn significantly more than the 99% came about their 'wealth' by working hard. Sure, they probably need to be taxed more, but I am seeing here is downright hatred and veiled jealousy from those that don't have jobs or want the easy way to a comfortable lifestyle.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Michael

    OWS: Ignorance on parade.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      When they resort to junior high quips you know they're beat. 😉

      ...or really just junior high kids

      October 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dchap

    Wackos being lead by nutjobs! The protestors don't even know what they are protesting? Sure they do. They are waiting for the riots to start so they can loot the stores while the police are trying to keep people alive. So sad that the jealoust and envy has gone this far.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KanyeEast

    OWS – People who went from sitting on a couch to sitting on a street.


    October 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MIKE B


    October 17, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Storm the Bastille

      We'll have a mob at your gated neighborhood next week. 😉 🙂

      October 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mary


    History repeats it's self .. And all through history a few callous and greedy people have justified themselves by kicking at the guy they just took down..
    You are wrong..
    If you kick some one in the mud, do you sneer at them because they are dirty?
    Thats what is happening..
    10 short years ago, people who are homeless now had homes, cars.. jobs..
    But with the wall street mess, the bail outs and the promises of jobs for tax breaks.. Did the opposite.. The job makers tooktheir new found wealth and cut out on the people in the United States.. they took their jobs to other countries where they could get richer by using cheap labor.. paying less in taxes.. All the while getting richer.. And richer..
    Now they sneer and blame and ridicule???
    You are wrong.. Totally wrong...

    October 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 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 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • KanyeEast

      And in comes the jobless POS People with big opinions and an empty resume to fix the world.

      People Occupying Streets – the future is in their heads!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
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