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. Yves

    I think this movement has been a long time coming and it's addressing a fundamentally broken system. Despite the reasons for these protests, it's refreshing to see people get away from their computers and engage in a passionate cause. I hope though, that the next step is to create connected but regional think tanks or brainstorming sessions to come up with some solutions. Certainly every revolution starts with the "anti" movements. But it's vital that we henceforth stay creative rather than 'contra' or destructive. We need to move forward into Phase II, putting our heads together to come up with a better system, step by step!

    October 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Howard – you forgot Soros.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabe

      Yes, I agree Yves right on. I support my fellow Americans and citizens of the world who are out there making a difference and speaking their minds. As for the human parasites such as Howard and Ed who sit behind their computers and criticize the movement they are worthless sheep and will just sit there at home with their panties in a bunch while human kind raises!

      October 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laerrus

      This movement is secretly organized and controlled by Marxists from Spain...

      October 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      If it is a secret, how do you know about it?

      October 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Come on Laerrus, quit vomiting your ignorance here! We have enough of that coming from the bird-brained Tea Partiers!!! Please!

      October 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      I agree with you Yves... It is very interesting to see the fear in people such as Howard... they are all confused between Nazis, socialists,communist... he forgot abortionist, pacifist, leftist, Marxist, anarchist, idealist, revolutionist and the list goes on... but people like Howard are absolutists with whom I cannot coexist.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARMYofONE

      WOW, imagine if these pople in the US spent this much focus and time on finding a job instead of living off multi extended unemplyment?

      So easy to point a finger and shake it at some when we should be shaking it at AL of us. We are all the reason why this country is in the toilet. We say those here illigelly and taking the jobs you people need should be rewarded for breaking our laws.

      I am embarassed today ofthe US. And I wish the rest of the countries would occupy their own bankers, politicians, their own countries issues.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      this is the month that theres 7 billion people....took alot of Love making to get this far....its going to take alot of Hard work and Truth to Open the Doors of a Delightful future!

      October 17, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    dirty hippies!

    October 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      In the spirit of American free enterprise, I'm going to NY and sell tie-dye Tshirts, love beads and sandles to the hippies.

      October 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      MJ has a higher (haha) profit margin.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. magnus

    Karl Marx was right.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      As history has shown. Just look at all the successful communist economies "burying" the capitalist economies. Let's see, Chnia . . . oh wait, it went capitalist, Soviet Union . . . oh wait, it crumbled like the Berlin wall, North Korea . . . yeah, that's the one, with the minor exception that it can't even feed its people.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      Yes he was . It would be incredible to see a people's republic of America!

      October 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pimpson

    These "Occupiers" are communists, nothing more, nothing less..

    October 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      I know, isn't that fantastic?

      October 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • programmergirl

      Don't know much about Communist countries, do you? Do you note the lack of protesters in China? That is because when the Chinese people protest, the Chinese government shoots them! They have no personal freedom, no liberty and certainly not the ability to SPEAK THEIR MINDS as the people are doing with the Occupy Wall Street movement. If these people were truly communists, they would be too afraid of speaking their minds. But thankfully, this is America, where we do have the right to speak out and I am all FOR this movement. Free speech is the American way – just as American as apple pie and hamburgers.

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

    I would like to see how one of these occupiers would handle living in Havana, Cuba.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. martin2176

    do they have a numbered list of demands..

    October 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      This is not a hostage situation where people make "demands". If you want to know why do you not google a bit and find out what they are all about. It takes a few seconds.
      http://occupywallst.org/
      See that was really easy. They are not a bunch of crazies. They are your neighbors! No you will not get on homeland security's list by going to their website.... Do a bit of websurfing....live dangerously!!

      October 17, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thoughts . . .

      Yes their demands are so well thought out . . . absolish all debt. Lets see that would mean goodbye to all your savings, your pensions and social security. It would help all those in debt.

      Lets pick another one . . . $22 an hour minimum wage. The average person should enjoy not being able to afford to eat any products produced in America.

      Another . . . completely abolish free trade. If you don't enjoy your overpriced products produced in America you can go down to Walmart and buy . . . no wait. Those products are no longer available.

      While I do share some of the concerns of the protestors, such as ensuring appropriate regulation, perhaps even changing the tax structure, many of the protestors have no clue and are just joining the movement because they are personally unhappy.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Herman Cain

    If you're not rich, it's your fault.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      That is the most ignorant thing to say.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dick Fuld

    Filthy Commie Anarchists! You should be grateful for the crumbs we throw at you.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • clearfog

      While I appreciate the sentiment, there is no such thing as a communist anarchst. Communism requires a strong central government to enforce the public ownership and public control of the means of production, else the smart, ambitious, and ruthless get everything back. Arnarchism simply is inconsistent. The most anarchistic of capitalist thinkers, sometimes called libertarians, are close to anarchists.

      October 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Ignoramuses like this lame-brained Dick Fuld here just keep coming out of the woodwork so to speak. I were him, I'd be ashamed to display such stupidity here. I guess that this bozo has no pride!

      October 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sharky

    Screw it. The world will end on Friday anyways.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PatSJ

    You may not always know when you're being scree...wed, but you sure know what it feels like. That's why they're protesting.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. the welder

    I'm so glad that while I'm out working and busting my ass, 20% of my paychecks are going to supply these people who are protesting as they collect in unemployment and welfare. "YEAH YEAH LET'S PROTEST, BUT first i have to hit up the ATM. My unemployment check is in. Ramon's down the street with a fresh supply of weed."

    October 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tony Greene

    These protesters are so lazy they won't even clean up after themselves. It will cost more tax money to get it cleaned up. I say we put these socialist lazy idiots to work and hand them a broom and trash bags.

    October 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Greene

      Sorry folks, you'll have to excuse my brother Tony for his ignorance here. He should know better than that but evidently doesn't. I fully support these protesters since they have a very legitimate cause to protest. I'm aggravated with a lot of these other nitwits condemning these protesters, too.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. 1%

    I'm the CEO of a major corporation. We made 10 billions dollars last year. We got a huge tax break too. To celebrate, I gave myself a 3 billion dollar bonus. Now I'm filthy rich. But wait! That's not enough for me, so I'm going to lay off 50,000 of my workers and ship their jobs off to China and pay them 1/3 of what I was paying my workers. Damn I'm clever! I think I'll give myself another 2 billion dollar bonus. Now I'm extremely rich. But wait! Now I have to pay to ship my goods from China back to the US. What am I going to do now? I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to raise the price of my goods by 5 dollars to make up for shipping costs. Damn I'm good! I think I'll give myself another 1 billion dollar bonus. Now I'm obscenely rich. Well, time to go buy some more political influence so I can do it all again next year. To the other 99% of you, enjoy living in squalor losers! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    October 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      CEO are not in the habit of sitting in front of their computers writing on CNN. You are a agent provocateur. It has been lovely, but now I have to SCREAM!

      October 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • @SundaySilence

      DUH! Did you figure that out on your own, or did you have help? It was a joke dumb @ss! A very true, soul crushing, in your face kind of joke, but a joke none the less.

      October 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Amaterus

    Though they don‚Äôt have single agenda for the march, I think this is a form of ‚ÄúWhat goes around comes around in circle‚ÄĚ logic haunting the governments (plus banks, corporate, rude civil servants and all of them jokers) for their rich history of behind-the-scene sins.
    So the march is really a karmic expression that otherwise the words can’t describe.
    Karma is what no one is stranger to.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan Greene

    The more I read these posts here, the more irritated I get with all the right-wing fanatics ranting against these protesters. Such ignorance should be outlawed. I resent the excessive and needless military spending and all these needless wars that currently engaged in. Now Obama started to send troops to Africa while here at home we can do nothing for the poor and elderly.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • SundaySilence

      The states are clearly not United. We have these very ignorant right wingers who strangely support the uber rich all while complaining about having to work for peanut. They are, I feel, offended by any intellect, such as the 99% display. They cannot understand any word that has more than 5 letters therefore it is difficult for them to read. One person above asked "what are their demands" as if they where terrorist highjacking a plane or so.... I gave the occupywallstreet.org website.
      This slice of american society is not even capable of googling to find an answer to a question. They have to go to some chat like this one and ask. It is very pathetic.

      October 17, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony Greene

      Idiot brother of mine, Mom and Dad told you not to vote for Obama and the Communist/Democrat Party but you are to stupid.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
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