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. Boycott Black Friday!!

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

    Boycott Black Friday!! (the day after Thanksgiving) You don't have to join OWS to take part. Just stay home and avoid the maddening crowds.

    October 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Greene

      Now that's a very good idea, Boycott Black Friday. Now if we could only get the government to get us out of all these obnoxious wars that we're in because without peace, this economy will hardly recover.

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

      WALL STREET D-DAY – Jan 1st, 2012

      Stop feeding the machine!!!

      Everyone who has a mortgage, car loan, or credit card balance quits paying on this day. "That's how you hit them... It's all they care about."

      Curious to see what they say come the end of that month, then the end of Feb, then the end of March...

      October 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Carson

      Yeah, that's it! Don't pay the bills you agreed to pay. Be a cheat! And then turn around and talk bad about the corporation you just cheated and how "bad" it is that they loaned you money.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason

    Glad to see everyone uniting to help each other. Im tired of wondering what wont get paid so i can fill my tank with the ever rising gas prices and food costs. These owners HAVE worked to get to where they are, but that doesnt excuse the needless greed they show by constantly raising prices with no valid reason. POWER TO THE 99% !!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP2

      They have a completely valid reason. Their personal jet isn't faster than their neighbors jet, and their yacht is sooo last years model.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. WOT

    The poor you will always have with you! The one per cent has never let the serfs have a say! You mean it took 2000 years to wake up. The rich will quit the poor with their money! CIVIL RELIGON is the reason for OWS! We have to,too many gods in the world today(cell phones, sports, crazy government,TV, and the list goes on! When the unjust is in power the people suffer!

    October 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. yakin

    i do not agree with greed. but the 99% shouldn't complain and blame others for what they do not have. there will always be more of the poor and hungry than full and rich... just the way it is.

    where were these 99% when the economy was "good" i bet you they were just as greedy and just as corporate minded minions as the so called 1% they accuse.

    if you have that much time on your hands to march and mingle with others all day long... go get a job just like everyone else. and too bad sometimes you just have to flip burgers.

    October 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP2

      Yeah, you need to offer more advice than get a job especially when there are 100 applications per job available. I was lucky to get two part time temp jobs even with a college education. Unfortunately minimum wage part-time temp jobs don't pay the bills. Its better to be in prison right now.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol

      MP2 – Let me guess, you're "college education" was in something worthless like Communications or Philosophy, right? Who knew such 'skills' were in such low demand in the 21st century?

      October 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • AL

      @yakin – you are right. These protesters should work harder at getting a job, instead of being lazy. If they want change they should all write their representatives, and organize their fellow neighbors and NOT vote for those representatives. If they want real change they should run for office themselves (and we can hope they don't fall into the same lot as our current group of thieving politicians)
      @LOL – Hmm, I am a communications major graduate...I make a six figure salary. kthksbye

      October 17, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Amaterus

    It’ll be fun to see the 1% doing their part in protest.
    Well if they do, they’d be doing it in the Plexiglas cage hanging from the helicopter I guess.

    October 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Let me guess, you are jealous of the 1%? Were you smart enough to invent something or build a corporation or win the lottery and make yourself rich? I bet if you won the lottry you would take the money, I bet then you would stop complaining if you were part of the 1%. Do you think the 1% is guilty of something, anything other than success?

      YOU are the greedy one, YOU are problem, YOU are responsible for YOUR future. Now get a life already.

      October 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Iker

    Dear CNN:
    This protest movement was born in the Arab Countries in the early Spring. The occupy movement has been alive and well in Europe since Last May. The Oct 15th Protest was organized well before Occupy Wall St was born. Madrid, first city in Europe to occupy one of its main squares witnessed a half a million people on its streets this Saturday (funny you chose not to show this particular city in your article). Your headline should read "The US Finally joins the Occupy Movement"

    October 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Felix

      I disagree.......the Arab spring primarily is to throw the corrupt government who are greedy and intoxicated with power. OWS is more economic thatn democracy.

      October 17, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Juan Tanamera

    You guys are drinking too much of the Liberal Kool-Aid. Barack Obama is in charge. He is a Democrat. He is the one making the policies that are hurting you. The problem is that you believe everything lie that comes out of his mouth. If you were interested in the truth, it will be waiting for you clear as day.

    October 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pmbg

    Fried food and grits must produce brain damage and memory loss problems. Just 2 ½ years ago polls showed that the majority of these retrogrades in the south were against the Bush bailouts, Wall Street bonuses and the corporate greed and corruption that caused the global financial collapse and worst economic crisis since the great depression. But magically just 2 years later these same financial firms are suddenly the “Job Creators” that can do whatever they want and just need more tax cuts so they can start creating jobs??? Really? Remind me again what happened with the jobs created during the last 10 years the Bush tax cuts have been in effect? Oh wait. That resulted on 8 million jobs lost. But the stupidity is even worse. Now anyone who reminds the public that those who did cost the global economy trillions of dollars (If it was greed or incompetence is irrelevant) should be hold accountable is a lazy commie. I must say Fox News is doing an extraordinarily efficient job brainwashing the uneducated weak minds in this country in just 2 years. Impressive! Thank god that we independents on the civilized areas of the country won’t drink that Kool-Aid again.

    October 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. matt

    The only two possible results of hierarchical society are socialism where we share, and feudalism where a few rich lords or CEOs own everything. Which society is better? I would rather have my children be cared for by the community than be slaves to it.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony Greene

      With socialism you are slaves to big government.

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


    October 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dsbubba33

    so much coverage for a few thousand people protesting – where was all the glowing fall over yourself media coverage of the tea party – good to see the communist and nazi american parties gave their blessing to the occupy protesters – funny – no coverage of that racist seal approval but the tea party is accused of it all the time and is not racist – give me a break

    October 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dsbubba33

    hey – thats smart – skip black friday/consumer purchases and watch the whole economy collapse – then everyone who works and has to provide for a family will go hungry as the whole system collapses – riots, death, murder sounds like a party – if that happens there will be quite of few of us showing up the the parks these idiots are hanging out in – and we will not be in the mood to talk – more like a scalping party

    October 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pawel

      Sure. Sounds like a good idea. Why don't you start an "anti-occupy protest"? I'm sure there's many people that will support you. I even think there's some anti-occupy facebook pages.
      The biggest anti-occupy Facebook group i saw has 174 supporters. WOW! 174 people on facebook supporting your cause is a mind-blowing large number of people. Congratulations!

      Sarcasm aside, have fun getting supporters for your anti-occupy cause 😉

      October 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mjschriner

    Anyone catch the headline on CNBC today that read "Stock pickers may be forced to join the protesters down on Wall Street." CNBC is belittling this movement with really stupid comments like this.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pawel

    I think CNN accidentally forgot to mention the 99% protests are also happening in Spain as well.
    More than "Thousands" of protestors in Spain, try "HUNDREDS of thousands" each major city alone. Whole country together...1 million protestors.
    I laughed so hard when I saw some American mainstream news journalists discussing "Occupy Wall St" on September 16 2011. What is this some kind of joke? How many people are they expecting to shows up for protests in New York: 150? Hahaha. Silly silly communist protestors!

    New York? 150? Try 15000!

    October 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. davey

    close the fed, make the rich pay, make corporations pay, end corporate grred, oh yeah frre troy davis. i think everyone should forfeit their 401s in protest. rebels without a clue.

    October 17, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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