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.

London

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."

Paris

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."

Rome

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.

Amsterdam

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."

Tokyo

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.

Toronto

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. Ken

    People are stupid when they get into these panic groups. Capitalism's ultimate power is the power to choose where to buy from. Want to destroy a company then everybody stop buying from them.

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

      Monopolies make that impossible. Otherwise a good idea. Join the real solution, Ken!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      That's easy if it's one company... The big fish has pretty much swallowed the rest. Have you seen what all Time-Warner owns?

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

      The express opinion is good, but to violate other's rights is not cool. Our problem is quite obvious.... The people who work hard producing real products and services don't do nearly as well as those who recently graduated sitting in office talking on the phone playing with virtual money. Then there is Obama's selective bail out to boost those messed up sectors. Why don't you do a refund and let us buy what we need. The same amount of cash would have gone back in the system. Until we return to our roots and reestablish manufacturing and supply chains we are hopeless... No protest will help either..... remember, those blue collar workers also go to dentist, they also buy tires, if they have job, everyone has job.... who needs bankers, traders playing with virtual money and mess everything up. Make risky investments, selling their bad debt to government, sell insurance on risks... this is insanity this is NOT CAPITALISM's fault

      October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. annoyingcnn

    Could CNN be any more liberal? I mean every day bombarded with these news stories of OC worthless libs doing what worthless libs do...

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

      buh-bye, bagger.

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

      Brightside – You're not ignorant to only check news outlets that confirm your beliefs !!!!

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

      The people are awakening. The revolution has just begun.

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

    I am for the tax it all and start over plan once a year so we work ourselves to death paying taxes.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alina77

    It use that people in different country's were saying that America growing so nicely and every body is "wealthy" , its because the rich "dont get greedy", they have lots but they also give some back, and everybody is happy.

    NOT ANYMORE, THE RICH GOT STUPIDLY GREEDY, the middle class will not take it, because it looks like the "only us" who is getting all the punches (down there).

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

    I find it hilariously ironic that a HUGE number of people deriding capitalism as "evil" are also those who are required to pay little to no taxes and benefit from other people's hard earned money.

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

      I find it hilariously ironic that you are taking the corporate media's word on this protest.

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

      Oh you mean GE then asshat right?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • faustus

      GE had a Net Operating Loss Carryforward. What they did wasn't illegal or aggressive. It is part of the tax code. It is Section 172. It isn't hidden in the tax code. It is sitting there plain as day. Geez.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ToDaniel

      You don't know a damned thing.You've never bothered to get off your lazy rear and research the baloney you parot from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and other foul-mouthed hate-mongers and distributors of inequity that care about nothign other than their next steak dinner or line of cocaine.

      NOBODY in this nation pays "no taxes" and nobody is living off yours except your Replican masters. Welfare, education, foodstamps, healthcare have all been gutted just so your Republican masters can have more and more and more.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick O Laas

      What exactly is classified as hard earned money and who falls under this category? The Wal-Mart exec who's making $16,480 an hour while a cashier at the same company makes $8? There's something extraordinarily strange going on here that we've turned a blind eye to for too long.

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

    My big dream would be to see every Countrywide underwriter in Colorado serve jail time.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • This isn't capitalism

      It's a Republcian enabled plutocracy that leaves no opportunity for anyone who isn't born into big wealth anytmore.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. redog

    Bummer....only 20-30 years have passed sincer the last socialist regime failed. But...here they are again, fueling the scattering of gullable fools that always seem drawn to a dellusion that the socialists are trying to garner support for again. Think of it...they're proposing we walk quietly into decades-centuries of oppression, murder, genocide, just so our God-given freedoms and rights can be sacrificed for the good of all. And there we will stand....right next to the last ones who were murdered and oppressed.....all in the name of an idealogy that is so completely toxic to ALL beings on this planet that NO ONE can possibly accept that such Evil can be so close at hand. The last thing we want to admit to is we didn't see it coming.......so fools like these advocate it, Obama cheers them on, and the silent majority walks helplessly into the great darkness of oppression and murder because our wills were too weak to resist.

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

      What about all the ones that are still working just fine? If you really hated socialism, or communism, you would be on the side of the 99%. If they aren't taken seriously and given a new deal, capitalism will sink. Surely you can't possibly believe we can continue to live in an economic situation where every multinational corporation is posting record profits and paying bigger bonuses while people are losing their homes in the US and starving to death from free trade weakened economies elsewhere. It is up to you. If this turns into a real violent and immoral socialist/communist movement, it will be because nobody gave the Occupiers any chance at redress within the law.

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

    This is what democracy looks like. Support the occupation.

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

      Exactly. People have buried their heads for far too long.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Daniel

    "Capitalism is evil because I don't have a job." Do you have any skills? "No, but that's capitalism's fault too."

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

      I can make up unflattering quotes that never happened about capitalism, too: "Hey, thanks for paying mortgage for 29 years, but since you missed one payment due to the interest rate doubling, you and your kids are out on the street. Quit complaining, you're just lazy, get out of the way of my Rolls Royce."

      October 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Unselfish Meme

    Uh, CNN – I THINK THE O-MOVEMENT STARTED IN CANADA.

    At the hands of an anti-capitalist rag magazine – ADBUSTERS and through the power of the interwebs and social forums and the revolutionary inspirational Arab Spring, sprung up from there and then some anti-capitalist hypocrites in the USA, you know the kind, that live and enjoy life in a capitalist society but complain about it, continued the Occupy thing here.

    Get it right. Don't misinform. Occupy WallStreet started in CANADA/ADBUSTERS of CANADA, strangely enough.

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

      Canada started the idea to occupy, but it was here on Wall St where the idea to package credit default swaps + short-sell against them was begun.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • faustus

      I would like to point out that George Soros has made donations through his Tide Foundation to Adbusters. While there is denial that his funding has to protests, Soros would definitely profit from a weaker dollar.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Anakaraya23

    wow.
    I am not on the protesters side or the people who are against them's side.
    But wow, as I read the name of each country I can almost feel some strange motivation to join them. The thought that even on the other side of the globe people have picked up the chant and started to protest, just astonishes me.
    Anyone else feel the same?

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

      nope....you can go yourself to the camps. Most people really don't want to join in on celebrations of ideaologies that promote oppression and murder (socialism). Too many people have died because of it, and too many gullable fools who support it are the reason.

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

      Yeah, everyone else feels the same.
      When your job is on the line + you're losing the roof over your head, you want to scream for justice.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Charlie

    If Capitalism is Crisis, then Socialism is Death and Communism is H E L L

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

      The people protesting are capitalists, obviously. What they are protesting is the influence it has over governments and rapacious immoral capitalism where 1% greater shareholder profits justifies anything a corporation wants to do.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    "With friends like these... First the Communist Party endorsed Occupy Wall Street. Then the Nazi Party. Then President Obama embraced them. Now the Chinese Government likes them. ...this proves that Occupy Wall Street really represents the .00000000000099%!"...For America

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

      go back to wisconsin + try to convince retirees that they don't want medicare, paul. ha, ha, ha.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Maltheus

    Went to Occupy Denver on Saturday. I went as a conservative, former Tea Partier, trying to find common ground. I didn't have to look far. For now anyway, I found they treated conservatives better than my local Tea Party has treated some conservatives. Both sides do have issues that they can agree upon. Not the least of which, is that the main stream media is just a propaganda arm of our crooked establishment.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jmp38

    The problem is not capitalism. The problem is the de-industrialization of the formerly industrialized West in favor of developing countries. This has given rise to a select class of trans-national industrialists who have no national allegiance and who have been able to reap a tremendous windfall from the new global economy.

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