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. ajgorm

    It is bad enough to know how dumb deregulation was only to now realize how much dumber the people that bought into it from other countrie were knowing what it would do to their inflated economies now we cant sustain it and can not pay up. Globalization and destabalization never rung a bell in their deregulation decision making process of g20 idiots.. uhhhuhhh before hand. History is with me here if you know why we regulated in the first place.

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

      While I agree reasonable regulations need to be in place the pendulum has swung way too far towards over regulation. I'll give you an example. The EPA recently classified hay as a pollutant (yes–dried grass that cows eat). Farmers have to set up "containment zones" to store this atrocious "pollutant." That's one example of hundreds that businesses and organizations are dealing with under Obama's administration. I don't think anyone wants no regulation or oversight, just keep it reasonable.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      The international growth of the 'occupy' movement proves two things ...

      1. There are lazy, complaining, malcontent, free-loaders in ALL countries of the world.

      2. Self-serving rebel rousers, representing obama and the unions, will sink to any level to exploit envy, and push their radical and destructive political policies.

      These mobs have been co-opted by obama and the unions, who are now using these pathetic protestors for their own ends.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Deregulation was a myth. We have more regulations than ever.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lazy Mal-Content Free Loader

      I guess I should shut up and accept that I won't see most of my 401K money, and my parents should probably just go ahead and die rather than take any of their medicare.

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

    I completely agree with everything this movement stands for. Reform is what is needed overall of government and the way political and economic policies and laws created by the wealthy and powerful give unfair advantage to the wealthy and powerful. The richest get free taxpayer dollars on the backs of hardworking Americans and effectively pay no taxes while reaping record profits. (tax shelters, tax-free earnings, corporate welfare, hedge funds, etc.) That's how the system was designed, and people are finally catching on after being pushed to the brink. The only correction I have to this story is the movement did not start in NYC. It started in Spain, then Canada, then here.

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

      I didn't see a solution in there anywhere, DJ. My guess is the Occupy idiots will head back to their perants' basements within a couple of months and the only change will be a massive bill for cleanup and police overtime.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in California

      Then specifically, what would you change and with equal specificity, how would you begin to change that?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daniel

    A major theme I've noticed is a push to redistribute wealth. There's a serious problem with that–someone's got to be in charge of redistribution. That would be the government. So you go from being a slave to capitalism to a slave to the government. Which one sounds better to you? Name one thing any government's done efficiently besides fabricate redundant jobs and create red tape. Not to mention the obvious point that it's already been tried (USSR) and failed miserably.

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

      Daniel you are kidding me right?
      How about every airport, bridge road, highway, hoover dam, niagara falls dam, The st. lawrence seaway, Eleictric rurification in the 40's, Obama's same drive to make jobs while brining the internet to all parts of the famrland and hinterland of American. The list of government accomplishments are endless. You just do not WANT to see that a Government by its people, for its people can work so you make it NOT work. AND that is why the Republicans who also sew this same discord are traitors.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      I hope they turn into real communists because of statements like yours. Keep calling them names and they may come back to haunt your lies.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Most are in favor of free market capitalism...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • eflows

      The sheer willful ignorance of conservatives is breathtaking. They'll complain about "redistribution of wealth" at the same time their own ideology has lead to the greatest redistribution of wealth in modern history. (Of course they don't mind redistribution when it means a handful of rich people get richer by gaming the system; it's only bad when it means trying to instill a little bit of fairness and regulation.) They'll criticize "government" at the same time that their entire comfort and prosperity is largely the result of government action in thousands upon thousands of ways. It really starts to sound like wiseguys justifying organized crime by calling everyone who isn't a criminal a "sucker." Too bad for them it's not going to be business as usual any longer.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leroy

      You misunderstand.

      This is a worldwide movement to stop the rich from making trillions by owning the lawmakers, shipping jobs out of their own countries and paying no taxes. This is a legitimate complaint.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      First I want to clarify that I do not advocate an absence of government. But when government oversteps it's role and takes over private industry (ie, the auto industry) they've gone too far. Private companies have a vested interest in being successful. Yes many of them are in it for profit, but they cannot achieve that profit without providing a better product or service. That's why a market economy thrives and a socialist society fails (they have historically proven to fail–Greece, USSR, etc etc). I'll take a free market economy over a government run economy any day.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      Uh, Carlos, Daniel asked about things the government did efficiently. Sure, the government did the things you listed, but with wholesale bureaucracy, cost overruns, headaches and hassles for everyday Americans. And likely special treatment for the well-connected. Daniel's point is well-taken, more government is not a good way to solve our economic problems.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CarlosinTx

    In the shadow of WTC, the Capitalists have done what the terrorists started on 9/11. The Capitalists have stolen our treasure, and robbed our children of a future.

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

      ...WOW. Exactly why no one takes this movement seriously. You're comments are a clear reflection of your lack of education and extremist views. Go back to your protest and wiping your A%$ with leaves.

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

      Wall Street has, with the collusion of politicians (mostly but not all Republicans), caused far more harm to this country than a thousand bin Ladens.

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

      You blind, foolish, idiot ... the Capitalists are the ones who created all the wealth in this country ... and, now, free loading, malcontents, like you, want to redistribute wealth, you did not create, and do not deserve ... and, what's worse, you demand that we end capitalism ...thereby allowing idiots like, to eat the goose that lays the golden eggs !!!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Big_D

    These people are not disorganized or lacking a message. The corporate media wants you to think that because they are part of the problem. Yellow journalism is just as big of a problem as the robber barons and the financial depression.

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

      Ever since Fox appeared on the scene, journalism as the fourth estate has been sileneced. And it is all in the way Fat boy Roger AIles laid in out when he was in the Nixon WHitehouse and they were bitter about having Walter Cronkite being a bigger provider of information about the war than their propaganda machine. And Ailes took the lead on changing corporate media from the back side. And he had the traitor Murdoch to help steer the ship of sh|t. Then they sued to lie in their news programming and that just cemented their drive to the bottom.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    These protesters are socialists. Why don't the news media go ahead and accept this and tell it like it is?

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

      Because they outnumber the corporatism supporters by 9 to 1.

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

      What nobody is writing about is that...The Ants ALWAYS win. We will swarm these fvckers and drag them to the gallows.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • eflows

      Look up the word "socialist." Go ahead, we'll wait.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveinCincy

      @Carlos- Get a job and stop whining....WAHHHHHHHH. Baby...Big world to tough for you? Boo hoo hoo

      October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |

    this is not about capitalism or communism. Both are the same broken system, one is a more polished version of the other – This is about a few people, in bed with each other, holding the reigns at all causes to rob the 99.9% of the public of their freedoms, wealth, and well being. Entire system is rigged for this purpose, they take your house, your 401k, your savings, your jobs, and call it capitalism. Capitalism for the taker, it is oppression for the public. We are living in an era of utmost oppression by certain powers make no mistake about it. At no time in the human history there has been this much oppression, corruption, and theft.

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

      The Ants ALWAYS win.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. andy b

    Where is Ben Shaloom Bernanke and Goldman Sachs Blankfein? are they having a wine tasting meeting with Madoff and Strauss Kahn?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris Jensen

    "Can we do business with honesty and fairness for everyone? I say YES."

    Thousands of years of human history say NO!

    That's why it is so important to have real accountability and effective checks & balances. The CEO of Morgan Stanley cannot be trusted and you cannot be trusted either. We are all weak, selfish and insecure. Fighting to ensure honesty and fairness for all is a battle that will never be won but must always be fought.

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

    Looks like the whole planet is full of freeloaders that don't want to work, doesn't it. Or does that only apply in the U.S.?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Maybe they just aren't able to sit by and take it on all fours any longer as easily and eagerly as you.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinIL

      It's sad that your sarcasm detector is broken.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BHPT

    This is not going away. In fact, it will continue to grow. We are in an inevitable reaction to WORLDWIDE CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH. Period.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      The Ants ALWAYS win!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      What's going to be your definition of victory? Will your definition be the same as anyone else in this so-called movement? So far the only demand I've seen is for student loans to be forgiven. There's altruism for you!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dick Fuld

    Anybody that stands up for himself when the banks are stealing all the wealth must be a communist.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffinIL

      Nope. It makes you a hippie Socialist.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      dick–what did the banks steal from you specifically? Sounds like the police or FBI might be able to help you out if something you had was stolen from you.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big_D

    The OWS protesters are not looking for a handout. They are looking for criminal retribution for the corporations that took the handouts and lined their pockets with our tax dollars.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill


      What specifically did they steal?

      October 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Abe Farah

    My dream is coming true! sooner than later

    October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    We are witnessing history unfold and it is simply amazing. This would not have been possible without the Internet.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      The internet hs leveraged the exchange of information that the printing press, the pony express, Morse code and the telephone afforded, but all logarithmically off each other. The whole restructuring will take approximately 5 years. That's it.
      The Ants ALWAYS win.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • skinsfan

      Yes i would be possible without the internet. It's happened before in Nazi Germandy. They called themselves sooialist and preached the same class warfare only then it was not the rich, it was the Jews, but the message is the same.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Carlos–I had ants in my house once. I hired an exterminator to kill them all and he told me about a spray I use around the perimeter of the house every year and they never come back. I don't think the ants won. Why do you want to model yourself after a nasty little insect, anyway? Seems kind of pathetic.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
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