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.

London

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."

Paris

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."

Rome

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.

Amsterdam

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."

Tokyo

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.

Toronto

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. jim

    It's only a matter of time until they realize that violence is the only thing that frightens Washington. Politicians don't mind protests as long as they don't interfere with their lives or their bribes. They don't seem to understand that you can't take everything a man has, for then he has nothing to lose.

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

      We're talking about people who take pride in their Greed. They will never voluntarily give up anything.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ti-grr

    A M E R I C A N A U T U M N .. Take heart, those of Occupywallst. You are on a noble course. Your voices have been heard and joined by countless others. Like the first Americans who could no longer endure the tyranny of a British rule, you are making your concerns heard. Your worthy actions have spread like a wildfire, bringing a light and direction for real Change, for no more will Americans accept the empty rhetoric of bought and owned politicians.

    There are some who call your actions 'unorganized'. They do this in an attempt to minimize your efforts; but their devices are known and their days, as they well know, are near an end. Let their words not affect your spirit nor cloud your thinking. This event is like a melding of many elements which will come together and be forged into one mighty sword. For, as in this country's origins, those Colonists were deemed 'disorganized'. But from among those struggling Patriots arose those who became our Founding Fathers, the originators of the Declaration of Independence; and by their brave actions this Great America of the People was born.

    Your actions are a new wind that finally brings Hope to the People. But take caution. Some of those who oppose you are desperate and without conscience. The many crimes of government officials, bankers, Wall Street, Federal Reserve (not a government agency), and other corporate thievery – they may try to hide their actions by wiping clean all computer records. Protect yourselves. Keep current paper statements of your bank accounts and deposits, and proof of mortgages and other ownership of property. Trust nothing to electronic files. This will reduce any chaos of their actions, as well as effects of solar activities, now increasing.

    Be encouraged by the numbers joining your ranks. Soon, perhaps those of the Police and other agencies, who will find their invested retirement funds and pensions reduced or vanished, will join your ranks. The military too, for their lives have been spent in two wars founded on lies, and their valiant labors have been barely rewarded.

    To the students and young people: Know many of you are the children of those who resisted the Draft of the Vietnam years. They are the generation of those men and women who died in the horrors of WW2 and came back immediately to claim: No More War Ever! Through their genetics, you have inherited their bravery and other ennobling qualities. When you see parents and older ones among you, know you are in great and bold company.

    As in the days when this Country was forged – Trust in God. There is a Source (a Force, if you will), of which you are part, and which connects all living beings. When needed, ask for help to strengthen your efforts, or the inspiration to move your plans forward. And know your thoughts radiate out to others, equally strengthening and inspiring them. The Founding Fathers knew this. Follow their example and make this land a shining place once again. So be it.

    Reprints, in any media, are allowed if not edited or altered: Copyright S/T – NYC, Oct 7, 2011

    October 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. frank

    Sure - replace Capitalism with what?

    * Communism? They only example of that left on Earth is Cuba (China has jumped into Capitalism with both feet) - nahhh - bad idea.
    * Theocracy? Like Iran???? Seriously??
    * Fascism? Nazi Germany???

    Am I missing something here?

    October 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • yes you are missing something

      that people are protesting corruption and greed, not capitalism. also you are missing that there are many gradations between pure capitalism and pure socialism – in fact our country right now is not pure capitalism. We have industry regulations and welfare. There are certainly many steps that could be taken to limit corporations raping natural resources and make wall street a place where individuals can invest again instead of getting shafted by huge firms with supercomputers, put/call saavy and piles of cash to do it all with.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nexus I

      Yes! You're missing a lot... and China is a Communist State.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anakaraya23

      North Korea is also communist. You forgot that one.

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

    Corporate media's persistent attempts to muffle the Occupy movement, as they inundate is with news of Snookie's latest brush with the law and Mylie's latest purse choice, is yet another example of how omnipotent our corporate masters have become. I am a Libertarian, through and through. I don't have Liberal bone in my body and I FULLY SUPPORT what OWS is doing! The idea that this is a battle between the proponents of free market economy/capitalism on one side, and more centralized planning/socialists on the other, is UTTER NONSENSE. THE FREE MARKET ECONOMY DIED when George W. Bush passed the first TARP...followed by the corporate lapdog Obama's trillion $$$ adventure. A pure free market/capitalist system is a system based on the theory of a "self-corrective" economic model...where businesses/people are allowed to amass fortunes, but are also allowed to FAIL when they make inefficient decisions and disasterous mistakes (see, subprime mortgage mess). What happened in the past four years is a CORRUPT GOVERNMENT bailing out its patrons with OUR TAX DOLLARS for stupid decisions....that, my friends, is the DEATH OF A FREE MARKET ECONOMY AND OUR CAPITALIST SYSTEMS. Every patriotic American should be out there protesting!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Agree, 100%.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Loksta

    Time to start occupying CAPITALISM!!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Truth Bringer

    Capitalism is not sustainable. Really it's as plain and simple as that. How can you have a society where the main goal isn't to further your people, but to further yourself? How do you expect to grow as a society with that mindset...It can't and won't happen.

    South America had this problem in he early 2000's and they discovered the same thing. All of a sudden you include a little socialism and the economic woes are GONE. Brazil has billions in surplus and owes nothing...why do you think that is? They kicked out the IMF, paid their debts and had programs for the poor and middle class because they realized that is where the strength of their country is...not in the rich.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      riiight...and a system that is focused on the "improvement and self-governance of the working class" has worked out reeeallly well. Gulags....mass-murder in the name of the "people"...mass starvation due to centralized planning of the economy.

      The problem is not with the free markets and capitalism...it's with the CORRUPTION of our government. As the matter of fact, Bush's and Obama's TARP IS SOCIALISM...where the government steps in to bail out inefficient businesses because their failing will do "general' harm to the "people"! Don't throw the baby out with the bath water, buddy.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth Bringer

      @realist

      Right corruption of the government is the ONLY problem. Keep believing that in that little bubble you live in.

      Why do you think countries like France, Brazil, Canada and others are KICKING OUR ASS economically? because of corruption in government?

      It's because they believe the power of the country lies in it's PEOPLE no in the small percent of elite.

      Bailing out businesses in NOT socialism. Might want to take a civics course at the local college and actually learn what socialism is. It's thins blind faith it capitalism that people like you have that is part of the problem. This idea that even though we have MILLIONS of more people in this country than in the "heyday" of capitalism that the system still works.

      Guess what....it doesn't, and anyone who thinks its because of government corruption has their head where the sun don't shine.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Craig

    There were more people at the farmer's market this weekend, than the Occupy Edmonton rally (Edmonton Alberta Canada)
    Why is this a news story?

    October 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wayne's Mullet

      Because unless its about hockey...NOBODY cares WHAT goes on in Canada.

      There are probably more protesters in Wall Street that in the whole city of Edmonton...I mean what 1000 people live there?

      October 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Start small, do it well

    The objective is too broad or rather not defined.. while there is truth to the claim, may be we can define something we can achive as a token and then expand on it? How about something that is used by all of us directly and indirectly and if we can just force them to stop speculation and let it drive by real demand..

    What if that commodity is oil?
    Who drives oil price high when China sneezes or US consumers dont feel like spending beyond their means ?

    Remember many elected officials get money from lobbyist. And I'm sure they get contribution for their own election campaign... so what do you expect them to do?

    We need strategy.. lets get our heads together on a small set of ideas and figure out how we can execute on it. No one will budge otherwise.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andreas Moser

    Occupy the West Bank!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. yannaes

    Oh Um..Time to sleep again! The children of the world are still playing in the streets!.. We all have to have a cause, I guess?

    October 17, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Funkatr0n

    I'm finding a lot of comments on here to be quite dubious and ridiculous. It's not hard to understand the general concepts and reasons why people are protesting. It all stems from a broken system that isn't working, or least not working for the vast majority of people.

    In my opinion, the government knows, or should know, exactly what to do to make life better for everyone. The people that caused the mess know how to fix it, but the government isn't exactly operating on the best interest of the common person. There are so many issues being protested because they ALL ARE issues with the current system.

    You can't expect everyone out there protesting to be a phd economics and taxation expert to devise some huge plan to fix the problems caused by the decisions made. The point is that people actually act on their disagreements with the system and show it. If it doesn't work and isn't fair than this is what happens.

    If you are a commenter on here that still posts obtuse and lame comments that you can't possibly fathom or understand where these people are coming from, then I question you're intelligence and integrity on the matter.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. 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 maddening crowds.

    October 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boycott Black Friday!!

      😉 There's nothing wrong with capitalism when in balance. But there is a problem with corporatism gone wild. 😉

      October 17, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonelok

      @Boycott Black Friday!!
      The 1% are probably the only people that would be vastly unaffected from large scale boycotts. You plan to boycott black friday, and then pay more for the same stuff a week later? Boycott's will slow down our economy further, costs more jobs and hours as spending cuts are put into place to account for lost revenue. The only people you would hurt would be the 99% of employee's working for the companies you boycott... I guess once you have achieved this you can't really protest the 1% anymore, since your to blame for once.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      A single day boycott won't grind the economy to a halt; but it will send a big message. Besides, it's one of the least painful forms of revolt. Are you worried about your retail stocks? 😉 😉 🙂

      October 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. docserveralson

    This 99% thing is bogus and a rip-off of an old piece of marketing employed by the American Motorcycle Association in the 1950s, after the exploitation film "The Wild One" came out and turned the public against motorcyclists. The AMA wrote that 99% of the motorcyclists in the country were normal, everyday people. Outlaw gangs took to calling themselves "One Percenters," with an accompanying 1% patch. More recently, Christian biker clubs decided that they were the majority of riders and called themselves "Ninety-nine percenters" with their own patch. Most riders are NOT Christians or criminals, but both ripped off the majority.

    This is what is happening now. We all have the need for a better economy in common, but we diverge greatly from there. Stop claiming you are 99%. Come up with something original besides this and failed, bloody, Marxist solutions.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      It's almost as dopey as that GOP "999" plan. Except the 99% is an actual mathematical reality...and you're in it.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. TriXen

    I wonder if any of you "Occupy" supporters have 401K's. If you do, you're hypocrites–all of you. As far as this "99%" b/s goes, it's just that–B.S. It implies that everyone other than the top 1% of wage earners agrees with your position, and that just isn't true. Socialism destroys economies. Capitalism drives people to work harder to succeed. If you fail in a capitalist economic system, it's your own fault.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Tea Please

      Yes, the GOP Jesus will damn you to hell if you lose money in the stock market. 😉 🙂 😉

      October 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonelok

      @TriXen
      Most of these protestors live in hypocracy. So your arguement is invalid. I agree with the protestors in some sense, seeing as expected wages for newly graduates are less than the average college debt acrued. But even that is mostly the fault of colleges extorting a piece of paper.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Idea

      Its grandmas fault that her bank went belly up and lost her entire retirement accout? It uncle Jims fault that the company her worked at for 15 years decided to lay him off rather than giving the executives a modest pay cut? Theres a reason they call it a recession TriXen. People are loosing jobs due to know fault of their own.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NASA Brat

    They (the governments and the Financial sector) had better hope these people get a leader with a defined message soon what and that's considered acceptable. There are too many people wandering around without direction and this is ripe for a real Looney Toon to step up and start a movement/revolution the feds aren't ready for. There are a couple of demographics you don't want to pi$$ off too much, the old people because there are millions of us and the young people, because they have little to lose, ( they don't have jobs to be fired from) and in 20 years will be remembered fondly for standing up to the perceived /real tyranny of the current government.

    October 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
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