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%"

Post by:
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. eflows

    The conservative take: "everyone's just lazy. Get over it." They'll still be saying that when their houses are burning down.

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

      ...so you're advocating violence against those who disagree with your stance? Great to hear from you Mumbarik...glad you're back.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      You're going to burn my house down? Is that really what this movement's all about or are you just an arsonist? Your mom must be so proud of you!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SC

    Just 3 decades after cold war, people are choosing Socialism over Capitalism. USSR must be laughing now

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

      Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see where anyone in the USSR was participating in this. I think too many remember the days of dumping their milk out on the side of the road while their neighbors children were going hungry thanks to communism.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      No they're not. STFU with your fear mongering...

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

      SC: Your way of thinking polarizes the discussion. All societies are a mix of capitalism and socialism; it is simply the description of what we hold in common and what we hold as individuals. More socialism is inevitable as the world becomes more crowded, but there should still be room for robust capitalism too. Without the polarizing rhetoric, the two can live together in peaceful opposition. Russia had a history of failed government, and constant warfare; any goverrnment would have failed there unless it capitulated to the demands of the rest of the world (which demanded that it give up its communist system).

      October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kim

    I wonder how many protestors have Iphones...

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

      OMG!! people who are against unfairness and consolidated wealth and opportunity use phones!!!

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

      Probably the same number that can distinguish between manipulative thieves and useful businessmen.

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

    People who voted for Obama in the US, and socialism in Europe, are getting what they earned. Too bad these protesters are protecting the corruption that created the poverty, instead of working to free us from those laws that hold us back from prosperity.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Doug

    Why is it that everyone thinks the president makes the laws? He doesn't. He proposes ideas. Congress(see: House of Representative & The Senate), make laws, re-write laws, abuse laws, debate laws, they are the law makers. They decide and vote. The President of the United States can then sign the law, or veto it. Given he veto's the law, it goes back to congress, who can override it.

    The president can issue executive orders, but the power in those is limited.

    Congress has everything to do with long-term laws, money, how it's spent, and so on.

    CONGRESS is the problem, NOT the President.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ajgorm

    Ohhh yeah destabalize the capitalists and thier economy so government can take over. FOOLs ! Police authority and we will be fine..

    October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. OU812USA

    I love how the Politicians want to infiltrate and make this movement their own. Both The Red party and Blue party are rotten to the core (this 2 party system sucks because they are both bought off by the same Big Corporations and Banks).

    October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Reasonable1

    These liberals are boasting that only their "Occupy" movement went global. Wrong. Tea Party movement also went global - remember the Norway shooter in Oslo?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. political partys mist go

    capitalism is fine.."rational decision makers" though are not very rational

    October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mrs. Fudd

    These people are anarchists. They don't give a flying fig about the poor. They are mad (aren't we all??) but rather than really do something about it, they make noise, cause trouble for innocent people trying to get to work, and get their face on TV. All they want to do is get their point across in the most disruptive and attention-getting way. They aren't helping anyone by their theatrics.

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

      As if by some form of magic, you are able to criticize those who are protesting about not having a message, while you are protesting(in a manner) their protest, but without any suggestions of your own. My advice, provide some constructive criticism next time.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dan

    This is all supported by communists trying to harm the western world and they have our kids suppoting it. Sad day in america.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big_D

    My dream would be the ability to sell the house that the Countrywide Underwriter said was worth this mortgage while he was giving fake loans to his partners.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. anon

    It'll all fizzle. I'm telling you, just watch it fizzle when the weather turns cold. The type of people doing it simply aren't the type with the caliber or sense to see this through the long haul. They are fly by night liberal twits.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PJ

    This IS the way to go- Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a stake in ANYthing other than maintaining the status quo, Mr. Obama included. The Tea Party is thinly disguised Welfare for Billionaires and a Fool's Errand for those poor ignorant flag-waving yahoos who think the Koch Bros. give a hoot about Democracy. Rise up! Rise up and take it ALL back. For the Police; the Local, State and Federal governments- this IS The People you speak of so highly- not "hippies" or "radicals" or "extremisits". The Occupy Wall Street Protests ARE America- join us – JOIN US! Stop talking about the "Founding Fathers" and start acting like them.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. RG55

    Many good observations on the global changes coming. US1776 is right but with a public oversight to all changes to all structures in Government, Banking, Healthcare and Environmental needs of the PEOPLE. Business will prosper under a more balanced approach and not on the backs of the 99% and not at the expense of mainstreet. The movement is going to grow and can't be stoppped so get involved where you live. Tastegaujal is happy with a failed system because he benefits. How about some balance between capitalism and socialism for the benefit fof the people everywhere! not just the wealthy and powerful. Lets take all power and return it to the people again.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40