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."

RekyjavĂ­k, Iceland

Halldor Sigurdsson was at a rally in solidarity with the global Occupy movement in RekyjavĂ­k, 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. Demiricous

    I'm not going to protest I'll just work for my share of the pie like a real man.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mattski

      That's a tired argument. Learn to deal.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BHPT

      Yada yada yada – this movement is growing, pal. And high time.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Sixpack

      A real man would stand up for his family's and his children's future and not just bend over and take it.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |

      A real man? More like a kid with his head in the sand. I've worked the last thirty years of my life, probably taken 3 mini vacations at best, and have had quite a few 60-90 hour weeks. I don't want a handout, I want my career back. I've been unemployed 18 months of the last 2 1/2 years. The last position I took was paying $10 an hour less than I was making 3 years ago, and payed less than what I made as an apprentice 12 years ago. You don't know what the issue is because you haven't lost anything, to you everything is fine and everyone else is lazy. To the rest of us you're just an idiot.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nexus I

      Hahahaha! You still think theres pie left? sorry to tell you this but you'll be lucky to get crumbs.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ipmutt

    They can n Occupy the workforce, Occupy a classroom, Occupy a tradeschool,Occupy a life in a community, Occupy a home, Occupy a savings account , Occupy a family and Occupy a place of worship. Stop complaining and get started. We do not owe you any of the above, They are yours only if you work for them

    October 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      With the current economic climate and unemployment rate, your "opportunity is everywhere, you must be lazy if you're unemployed" view is tired and uninformed...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. God

    if you support Occupy, go to their website and DONATE

    October 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robin

    Economic justice is a universal need. Nobody wants to see another rise of the robber-baron class.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • glyder

      just say it.you support communism.they support the protests along with the nazi party.you people will burn in hell.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      It's not communism they're striving for. It's a modified capitalism/socialism model. That way you can still succeed on your merit but your fellow man doesn't need to suffer for it.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2manyfreaks

      The 1% did not get there by holding up signs or by being peaceful. They got there by being ruthless. Until the occupiers are ready to be ruthless...nothing will change. Revolution calling? If you want their money you will have to take it, they will give you nothing, even though many of them were given wealth just by being born. "Strangest world I've ever known"

      October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RC

    Occupy seems misguided. Since they have no real mission and send too numerous mixed message to mention, why is it bad to have wealth or embrace capitalism? I strive to have more wealth through hard work. Occupy seems to be a lot of unemployed people spending time protesting something they want, except instead of spending their time job hunting, they are condemning those that would employ them.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • BHPT

      You have no CLUE. Read this and try to begin to understand?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |

      wow you really are clueless. I've been close to the top of my profession for the last 6-8 years. Can you imagine having contacted every company related to your field of work in a major city, in a 20 mile radius, and maybe having one opening show up every 2 months? And then they want to start you at less than you were making 12 years ago? You really need to wake up to what's going on in the world you live in.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rob h

    Just as I expected...protests only in free western countries....not in any communist country. Could it be because these are the communist protesting free enterprise.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Maybe because those communist countries with "disappear" them if they voice dissent is why they're not out protesting. Unfortunately more and more people in this country are willing to go that directing rather than allowing the masses to speak out.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |

      ...could it be that you still have your job, your benifits, your savings account? Again, another person fortunate to be unafected but thinking everyone else is lazy and wanting a handout. You are a truely dull tool.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob h

      yes RUATOOL, as a matter of fact I still have everything you mentioned because I work hard and I am good at what I do....the only tool is you, get a life and don't be a leech. How is that Hope and Change working out for you?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |

      well Rob I didn't vote for Obama, I don't do what some party tells me to do like most of the sheep. You really are clueless. I've been close to the top of my profession for the last 6-8 years. Can you imagine having contacted every company related to your field of work in a major city, in a 20 mile radius, and maybe having one opening show up every 2 months? And then they want to start you at less than you were making 12 years ago? You really need to wake up to what's going on in the world you live in. I don't want a handout, I want my career back.

      October 18, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jamie Dimon

    You are a bunch of communists. We stole your retirement savings fair and square. You don't expect us to be inconvenienced by our own incompetence, do you?

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

    If they don't want capitalism, what do they want in it's place? Socialism...no thanks!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dana906

    Try as you may CNN to make these protests seem amateur and unorganized, but people across the world are TIRED of their government. They are tired of corporate America/ fortune 500 controlling the government and are TIRED of CNN being controlled by both. You point out many times how some protesters do not even know why they are there? Really, they just took to the street in the rain and cold just because they thought they would go "along for the ride". CNN get some balls and write journalism that is REAL not self serving to the corporations and government in which you are controlled by! I admire all the protesters for doing what they believe in. I wish I could join them, but I'm to busy going to my job everyday paying taxes and paying for dead beats and still only getting by.....Its time for C H A N G E and it WILL happen!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • glyder

      i'll say it for you,plain and simple.you want communists and nazi's to control the government.of course they would control the media also.evil pig.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. skinsfan

    Yes, I can believe 'Occupy" is getting global support because there are so many socialistic and communistic countries in the world. They would all support their 'Comrades' in their anti-capitalist protests. This group want everyTHING to be free, the TEA PARTY just wants everyONE to be free.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. God

    The delusion that you only "deserve" something if you have "worked" to "earn" it is at the root of all of mankind's troubles, which would vanish in an instant if humans could end such selfish and misguided values.

    Give away what you would choose to have as your own.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big_D

    People are tired of robber barons, yellow journalism, predatory businesses, and the depression. We are at the same place the lack of regulation of the 1920s brought us. Now we need to become socialists to get rid of the corporatism that is stealing the livelihood of the masses.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • skinsfan

      Commie bed weater

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wigged out

    you people are wigged out & don't even know why!

    Over 90% of the people envolved with this waste of time display of lacking of thinking event seriously have know idea why they are there and have complete lost all control of their own mind.
    Talk about being brainwashed!!

    What a waste of time & liveless ideas!!!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CarlosinTx

    The reason those in power desire to stop citizens from looking to their government for help, is that the Government and those in power KNOW that the COLLAPSE is around the corner and want to pit citizen against citizen so that we kill each other and they get to stay alive and remain in power.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. J

    If free markets were allowed to do their job, Wall Street wouldn't have received any bailouts whatsoever. Only when a crony capitalist president decides that his biggest donors are too big to fail do we see big government overstep its bounds and give away hard earned tax payer dollars to banks that would have otherwise had to declare bankruptcy or be restructured.

    What do Obama, Pelosi, Iran, China, Communist party USA, Nazi party USA, unions, anti-semites and marxists all have in common? They love OWS and hate America. The greatest ad for the right any conservative could ask for.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • skinsfan

      Capitalism did not bail out Wall Street. Obama did. You know, your spread the wealth, socialist buddy.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Actually skinsfan, that would be Bush who signed that into law.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nexus I

      Hey Chris don't waste your breath. Skinsfan is about as ignorant as it gets. This is not a thinking man he is a parrot for far right media and those protecting the 1%. Righteous and blind not a good combo Skinsfan.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
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