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. DaveL

    Many poorly considered comments on here about socialist and communist...Every 1st world country has some degree of socialism...You are taking advantage of it every time you drive on a highway...and if you don't like "Commies"...Get rid of your cell phone, big screen TV, etc,... and prove it...After all...They were all made in China by real "Commies"... Some seem to forget...It's Red China...not China!...Now go turn Fox off and start thinking for yourself!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger in Detroit

      I'd love to. When can I get started?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • KanyeEast

      Support these POS People!

      People Occupying Streets guarantee no democrat gets elected in the next 20 years!!!

      Support the POS People!!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • KanyeEast

      🙂 🙂

      Maybe this aura of dumb should Occupy their Work Site. And if they have no work site to occupy, they should occupy some experience so they can have their resume occupied with a work history.

      BUT... they went from sittin on the couch to sitting on the street. NICE! 🙂 🙂

      October 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      Both the American Nazi Party and the American Socialist Party have come out witheir endorsments of Occupy Wall Street. What's your next comment?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      🙂 🙁 🙂 🙁
      Kayne – you never had an original thought in your teabaggin' life. Your just a tool for the 1%.

      🙂 😉 ;( 🙁 :)) 🙂

      October 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveL

      Kayne East...You must like shooting yourself in the foot... Trickle down economics is a failure...But keep supporting the Republicans... they will make sure you and your children and your children's children receive nothing for their contribution.Wall Street is greedy and they lack any sort of obligation to the country that paved the road to their success...It's that simple...Now turn off Fox and go bandage your foot!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • docserveralson

      Now China, there is something to think about. Why aren't you trying to occupy China and get jobs there?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 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 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      So how do you explain Apple Corp which went from near bankruptcy in 1996 to the number one company in the world? The employees got stock options and many if not all made a fortune on the stock.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      There's already a different rate applied to short term vs. long term capital gains. The threshold is a year I believe.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveL

      Kevin that is a good perspective...Many people who comment have never worked in the real business world and don't understand...They also don't realize that those who are wealthy enough to invest pay 20% on their gains... A lower percentage dollar for dollar then is payed by the average working person making 50k a year and trying to keep their head above water... The wealthy have had all kinds of tax breaks but still no jobs...Occupy Wall Street is a testimony to people having had enough.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Poor Richies Calmanac

    Can I ask what these people have done to deserve the hatred that is being spewed at them by the Left? I mean really? They are not at your house, most of you fools are not the rich minority they are angry with, and you will be equally affected if things continue this way. The true class war has been waged since the invention of Regonomics in the 1980 and the nail was put in the coffin in 2007! The amount of ignorant hate filled talking points you use shows that this is more than you are willing to admit. I applaud and support these people who are giving there time and efforts to OW. The world hears them but your blinders and propaganda keep you happy and cowed. Bahh little sheet bahhh!

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

      Yes, class warfare has been waged since Reagan... Except that it's been the rich waging war on the middle class and lower. Guess it doesn't bother you that wages have been relatively stagnant for the last 30 years. Guess it doesn't bother you that more people are falling into poverty than fulfilling the American Dream. Guess it doesn't bother you that the income disparity between the rich and the rest of us is greater than it's ever been. No, it's simply because we don't work hard enough. That's the conservative mantra, right?

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

    .....Fake! I'm going to occupy Subway for dinner now.

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

    The new political party should be called "The Failed to Launch"........I'm 30+ and still at home, a professional part-time Barrista and baby-sitter.

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

    All of this is just 'stuff.' It doesn't matter who, or what, or when, or why. All that matters is that there is a HUGE gap between the haves and the have nots. So either you give it to them, or they come and take it. We can keep voting in 'Representatives' who keep chaperoning the wealth for the top of the layer cake, or we can vote in Representatives who help to ensure that all Americans are fed. Or the third scebario: Revolution. As long as we have our distractions such as Transformers 3, Fantasy Football, Two and a Half Men, Jersey Whatever, abortion debate, Happy Meals, then it probably won't ever come to the latter.

    Zen Master: "We shall see."

    October 17, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capitan


      October 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Boycott Black Friday

    The best weapon the 99% has is focused boycotts. This will get the attention of the 1% capitalists faster than anything.

    Boycott Black Friday! You don't have to join OWS to take part. Just stay home and avoid the rabid crowds.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nikki

    Obama isn't the problem. The problem is years upon years of capitalism being allowed in the world. People are now waking up and taking action and speaking out. We have been so opressed and controlled and taken advantage of and we are sick of it. The US was not meant to be run this way, and now our future generations will suffer. Social Security is the only thing that keeps the US afloat, and it is rapidly dwindling. There will be nothing left for our children. Wake up and do your home work. Stop voting for capitalist pigs! People take your countries back and run them the way they should be runned to ensure a future. The more we exploit money and the earth the more they both deterioate. There will not be a world left for our children. You may think I am crazy, but you are just in denial. I work in the financial planning industry and keep up on currrent affairs and understand how the economy plummeted. You can blaim AIG, GMC, GE, and the like. They take take take. They spent all their money and had no where else to turn except to the government for bail outs. Ford is the only company that has made an effort to pay back their loans. People should be ashamed to blame such problems on the president. Especially one who was forced to clean up the crap of a Texas retard. This what happens when you let ignorant people run your country. We have no one to blame except for those who continously vote in people like Bush. Step away from Democrats and Republicans for a change. Give some one else a chance to make things right. Democrats and Republicans built this country and they have run it to the ground. P.S. Obama can't make jobs. The companies are the only ones that can make jobs. These corps make tons of money and put none of it back into the economy. It's time to tax the wealthy like Obama is pushing for. It's time to stop CEO's being paid millions of dollars to play golf. It's time to take our jobs back from places like China. American companies like Saucony need to stop having their shoes made in China. Why can't they be made here? Give the US those jobs. Everyone once to blame one person for the problems of the US, but there isn't one person. There are many. The corps, who we vote for, the senate, the govenors, and ourselves for voting ignoramaces into office. I would like to see those prtestors storm Wall Street. Make a mess of it all and let them know that we the people are not going to take it anymore.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      If you don't recognize Obama, and the history of the democrat tax and spend policies as the problem...then you are part of the problem. Obama took millions in campaign donations from Wallstreet...in fact that has been his number one source of funding since 2007. He then spent billions in stimulus on Wallstreet, after which they paid themselves big cash bonuses. Obama has his fingers in the Wallstreet pie up to his elbows

      October 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • docserveralson

      Guess what? The Marxist revolutions have come and gone. They were very bloody and run by power hungry thugs who lived like kings while everyone else was spied upon to make sure they were complying to the latest edict of "the people."

      October 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sandra

    Just like Rome the American Empire is crumbling. Why ? Because the Jewish elite who rule America spent on wars and not on the people. They lied on 911 and who did it to start needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      Where are you anti-Semites coming from? Are you Tea Party infiltrators??

      October 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jon

      The American Nazi Party just endorsed Occupy Wallstreet...I see their members are already active on here

      October 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • docserveralson

      I didn't know that the Bush family was Jewish, that Congress was majority Jewish, that all the leading CEOs were Jewish. Man, am I uninformed!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hunter29

    Tea party projected political power and became relevant in policy discussions by endorsing & supporting their own candidates. I think Occupy Wall Street has the same opportunity, they should promote and support candidates who would represent interests of the common people then and only then we might have a real 3rd party.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      By golly – you Tea Partiers sure got that birth certificate. Mission accomplished!!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MIKE B


    October 17, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveinCincy

      Lazy pepl suck worse.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • docserveralson

      Rich is really a relative term. If you can find a toilet to use, and can obviously access a computer, you are very rich compared to many. Maybe the fact that you will eat today is a reason to be thankful.

      October 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JOEL

    Amazing solidarity of all the ignorant masses of the world. Sure picket and demonstrate. To what end? Foolishness. They want answers to their problems where there are no answers. They want Wallstreet to solve their problems? Wallstreet created the inequality and injustice they perceive. What sane person would ask a rapist to make their look after their children? Don't like capitalism? What then? Communism? So everyone is not only poor but cold and hungry? They need to get a job, go to school, study economics become entrepreneurs. Make the the 1% become 2%. Why does America have more millionaires now then ever before? Because everybody in America can become one if they work hard, save, get a real education(nothing stupid like journalism, real degrees like engineering, computer science etc.), grow a business.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KanyeEast





    October 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DaveinCincy

    ....I want money....lot's and lot's of money...I want the pie in the sky.....
    I bet some vendors at these sites are making a KILLING off bottled water/T-shirts, and you know the drug dealers are having great sales! God bless capitalism!!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jonas

    Another example of the liberal press trying to push an agenda. While they were derogatory towards the Tea Party, they are promoting this "Occupation" What is it that the "Occupiers" want anyway? Does anybody know? Fairness, what is that, that they being given a job. That they be given free money? We are all for fairness in the system and nobody wants anyone to get over, but taking money from the "Bourgeois" and giving it to the "people" that sounds like Marxism to me.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
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