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. DeMel

    The Wall Street protest is about the inequitable practices of the Bankers. One is to give themselves fat salaries and bonuses, irrespective of their performance. Another is to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. One weapon they use is the credit rating system based on the applicants past performance in repaying loans. They do not take in to consideration the present disposable income and the future cash flow from the credit requested by the applicant. Hence, hundreds of thousands of houses are kept closed, while those who want them are rejected because they have been savers rather than borrowers.

    October 18, 2011 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Without_hate

      The solution is simple tell the dead beats to pay their bills. You want triple A credit. Pay your bills. These whiners that lost their house, I feel sorry for them but common sense will tell you that if you make one hundred thousand or less there is no economically viable way that you can afford a 600,000 home. It was irresponsibility and pure planning. Suck it up, get a job and get in a home you can afford and quiet looking for a free hand out from the taxpayers of the nation.

      When is a leader or even ever day American going to stand up and tell these people to get off the back of the taxpayers and be responsible. If you are in a bad situation and you are able bodied and not mentally challenged, I do not owe you a cent of my money. Get up off your can and go to work and pay your fair share. This does not apply to the hard working American that has been forced in the food stamps line due to Obama reckless policies. I am writing this to the chronic takers that prey on their fellow citizens.

      This slow witted, President when he was a Senator warned of the impending melt down of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. He did not have the courage to stand up to Senator {Country-Wide| and Barney Franks. They pushed the sub prime montages, force banks to lend to people that are not credit worthy and hence the collapse of the banking industry.

      Barney Franks admitted that he did not see the consequences of the run away policies of these two corrupt agencies.
      That is a plus for him. Country wide refuses to admit or apologize to the nation for bringing down our nation. The OWS protesters do not know why they are on the street. They are not heroes they are pathetic losers whose time would be better spent studying or working. BE PROUD THIS IS THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BASE, KEEP ON PROTESTING. WE NEED MORE FOOTAGE TO PLAY WHEN THE ELECTION STARTS.

      October 18, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • ezduzit757

      Without_hate: Even your name is a lie. You are full of hate. People bought houses they couldn't afford, but these were just ordinary people trying to catch the American dream that they saw everyone else embracing. It was the BANKS responsibility – and I do mean RESPONSIBILITY – to not give mortgages to people who could not afford them. But the banks turned a blind eye because they knew there was money to be made bundling these mortgages up and selling them. They had no fear of the consequences. Win or loose, they win. The game is rigged for them to win because they pay a lot of money to law makers to make the rules favor them rather than protect JoeSchmoe from their deceptions. And by the way, these mortgages were taken BEFORE Obama even became a cantidate for president They were taken during GWB's presidency and due to all of the de-regulation that the republicans pushed through.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      The dregs of society, malcontent, free loading 'occupiers',
      who are turning the streets of America ... and, now the streets of the world,
      into an open sewer ... are publicly supported by the following:

      * The American NAZI party
      * The Communist party
      * The Socialist Party
      * Dictator, Hugo Chavez
      * Dictator, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
      and ...

      * Dictator, and traitor, barack obama !!!

      October 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Without_hate

    The OWS are a laughing stock world. the mentally challenged of our nation along with their {social democrat} party has joined hands to show stupidity and ignorance. The one thing that is good about these dead-beats is that they are showing the nation Obama followers. I wish we could get Pelosi, and Schummer on site, I need as many photos of the social democrats with these creatures. CNN you can try to make heroes out these jerks but you can not turn lead to gold and all you have on wall street is dead heads that has lead for brains.

    October 18, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. Without_hate

    An up date on the dead heads. sources inside the movement are planing to ambush Obama and let him know that he has been a total failure.Their complaint is that he is a wall street lover, has not legalized mary jane. that they have not received a cola on their food stamps since he been in office. It seems even the radicals realize that this is the worst President in the history of our nation history. Cain 2012

    October 18, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. michaelfury


    October 18, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dsqr964

    Have any of you who really bash this process realized that this is part of a Citizen's duty to his country to help insure our Union stays true to the People? Have any of you bothered to go down to one of the protests or march to see who really is there? I have. These are Vets who have been discarded, retired individuals whose retirement funds were bankrupted by the very firms and individuals they trusted to insure they could live out the golden years in modest comfort, and to finally bring it home, there are Small Business owners there as well. I have a job, I am underpaid for my industry but we shipped those jobs over seas about ten years ago when we off shored tech jobs. I get by, I am disabled but do not try to get disability as I want to work and I do, for $10/hr. I have tried to find another job but they are not there. I have tried to get a part time job as well but with a disability it is not easy to find one that I will be able to do after already working 8 hours.
    Please open your eyes, look at who really is there, these may have been your next door neighbors who lost a home or are one pay check from being evicted from an apartment as I am. I made half as much as I do now in the late 80's and had money to spend, now ha, I pray that my 20 year old car doesn't break down.

    Some of you state I should have bought stock and vote on these boards, guess what I have and I did. I voted and bought with the long view in mind but it is the Day trading and Hedge funds along with derivative trading coupled with nothing more than good old GREED that wiped me and a good portion of the middle class back to ground zero.

    Some state that to make changes we need to Vote or run for office, I vote even when I was in the Military I always voted with my absentee ballot. On running for Office, yea right on what middle class budget can a citizen run for office?

    The movement is organic in nature because it is a movement trying to represent a social change not just politics as usual.

    I am not asking for a hand out or bail out, but for those who have STOLEN from the People of the US and the World at large to be held accountable. I have to be accountable why don't our Politicians who are in bed with the Financial Industry as well as the leaders for the business world.

    This is a very over simplified reply to some very over simplified criticisms.

    October 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Linda Mulkern

    The movement is about Corporate greed, wall street corruption and the rich getting richer over the backs of middle america. People have had enough. Back in the 50's when the rich paid 90% of the taxes, this country was financially thriving. Now they pay 18%.....this is plain wrong. How many homes and face lifts do they need. What about low income people through no fault of their own are loosing the roofs over their heads. Why are we bringing in 300 immigrants a year and sheltering them with all the benefits? Thank Catholic charities for that. I makes no sense, it is as if common sense is out the window. And worse, these politicans that are suppose to be doing their best for this country is corrupt and in the pockets of Corporate American... all their energies into making Obama a one term president is outrages...they should be removed from office....shame on them all.

    October 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • MiltR

      The rich pay way more than 18 percent. I'm assuming you're referring to Warren Buffet's tax rate..which is 18%. Yes he paid 18% which came out to almost 7 million dollars. He also gave about that much to charity. My wife and I paid 37K last year in taxes and we made about 210K. You're telling me we need to pay more? Please keep in mind that my kids wont get financial aid or pell grants for school...we make too much, I don't even get to claim them for exemptions because over about 180K that phases out. We don't get that fat tax return every January.... we end up paying. I don't get free medical care, I get medical bills...even with my corporate insurance...and by the way I have to pay for that insurance as well. Which just went up with Obama care. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone should have access to healthcare and not go bankrupt because they got sick. But how much more do you want to take out of my hide and still make me have to cover all of the other stuff that most people get government help with? Please let me know because I've got 2 more getting ready to go to college and they won't qualify for grants, work study or financial aid.

      October 20, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  7. pat

    For goodnessake! The movement did NOT start in the USA! It started in Spain with the IINDIGNADOS!!! And of course it is global! The US Wall Street and banks ruined the WORLD FINANCES!!! Not just the US!!

    October 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pat

    What I don't understand is the people asking what this movement want.. Are they stupid or what???

    October 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • jean

      They want for example to erase TAX HEAVENS places.

      This not stupid at all, if you succeed to do so you will regulate a lot of problems.

      STUPIDITY is to think that this is ok to let the system go this way or maybe you are part of the 1 percent of rich people..

      October 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Deamtime

    For this movement to succeed it has to concentrate on ONE WORD, and that word is CORUPTION. Any generalized chants about how unfair it is that the "rich get richer" will not result in anything positive. There must be a distinction between legit Wall Street trading and manipulating the market in a corrupt way. The attack cannot just be on the "rich" as some of these blogs suggest. That's mob mentality. Be specific with names and actions that are corrupt, otherwise it won't work.

    October 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bigwilliestyles

    Every time ordinary people protest inequality, some loudmouth try to ridicule, humiliate or otherwise insult them in a schoolyard born attempt at "we're better than them, they're dirty, don't play with them" to downplay their efforts. You can't trace the same comments back through attempts at unions, improved education, discrimination, political representation, the list goes on and on. The protesters are always portrayed as: communists, hippies, traitors, "unwashed", free loaders, etc. One can see why other successful movements have called for "cultural revolutions" that, while brutal, expressed the peoples frustration with trying to 'explain' a position to people who absolutely refuse to see any other perspective than their own, gladly returning hate, anger, imprisonment, assault and murder instead of discourse. However, one constant cannot be denied: the will of the people ALWAYS prevails, over ridicule, money, prisons and violence. PLAY TO WIN: USE THE ECONOMIC POWER OF THE BOYCOTT TO REVERSE THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL POWER OF GLOBE STRADDLING MEGA-CORPORATIONS!

    October 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FamilyGuy

    Everyone, run down to the nearest OWS rally, join in, time is not on our side. Seize this moment now. By the way, where are you not working right now, so that those who need a job can go and apply for the one you left to sleep in the park.you can't fix anything from the outside. You want to change politics get into politics, you want to change the color of a room you have to go into it, stop standing around thinking signs and chants will produce anything other than five minutes of fame. The world is the way it is because those who wanted certain outcomes put themselves in positions to create those outcomes.

    October 18, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FamilyGuy

    By the way I forgot to mention that the majority of the 99% you speak of go on a weekly basis to a local store to play the lottery in hopes of joining that 1% present company included.

    October 18, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NickM

    People are not looking at the big picture. With a debt as high as ours taxes should be higher for everyone, Though people with more money inevitably pay more. But on the other hand People need to stop buying things they cannot afford on credit. A large percent of The united states debt is owned by our own people! When President Obama said we need to start living within our means he was absolutely correct. Credit cards and loans are sinking us deeper and deeper. The other side is the corruption. Our government officials receive large amounts of money for travel and lodging expenses. Why should they live lavish lives when their job is to make american lives easier! This is a new time, a time of change. Hopefully many good things come about from all of this. Next time your going to point your finger at who is wrong remember that we are american citizens. Our forefathers built this country together under rules of tyranny and injustice, it is our duty to protect and preserve the quality of life for EVERY American. Not a select few.

    October 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Norton

    Of course business can find laborers in other countries who have nothing to work for slightly more than nothing, but before they hire them, they need to consider the general welfare of the people in their own country. Greed is when you seek more money in a way that has an adverse effect on the general population of your own country. Bring back outsourced jobs. There is a percentage of outsourced jobs that can be brought back with little or no impact on the bottom line. I'm guessing this is 10-20% of jobs that were outsourced just because it was easier.

    October 19, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
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