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)

    Those of you mocking OCCUPY, a warning: we now have NINJAS on our side! Next time you see one of our protestes with a covered face, BEWARE!

    All Corporations Will Fall! Only Then Will We Have JOBS!


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

      Hahaha ! Ninjas. Hahahah You loosers are just like something out of an episode of South Park. Hahahah, I'm so scared of the Ninjas. Hahahah. No wonder the world thinks you are a bunch of slacker, stoner, morons. Hahahahah

      October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • fl

      If corporations fall, who will give you a job?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • conradshull

      Ninjas? Not too hard to figure out why this guy's not getting anywhere in this world.

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

      Whether corporations fail or survive, why on earth would ANYONE want to give this guy a job?

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

    Are all these protesters our of a job? And do they really know what they are protesting??
    it makes me wonder!?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      No. Yes. And why did you end a statement with a question mark?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ajgorm

    The spend it or lose it plan where if you dont spend the money you make every year you lose it all. That ought to keep us all busy working if we dont spend all day drinking gin and vodka first.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ywalk

    They just don't get it !!!! the rich keep on robbing/stealing from the companies, paying themselves millions as bonuses – after they have laid off workers and reduced wages and benefits.These people should be charged with Grand Larceny/ Theft, shareholders are unable to stop these thieves of greed. One company made $14 billion and paid no income tax while the poor worker has to carry the load. Canadian company lays off 400 people, Chairman of parent company in the UK gets a $100 million bonus. Solution ? SO SIMPLE even my kid can figure it out !!!!

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

      You analysis sounds like you DID rely on your kid to figure it out.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. klander24

    I am so tired of reading that this is just a party and that the people out there are just lazy and finding an excuse to avoid working. The reality is, I bet a lot of them would LOVE to work, if they could find any. What these protests are about is government being in the hands of corporations who refuse to reduce their astonishingly high profit margins to better the economy. It's the 1% for the 1%, instead of considering the 99% that make it possible for them to do business by working for them (if they're "lucky") or by buying their products. In the end, they will have no one to sell to, when no one has enough money to live on (except the rich behind this). Government is no longer By the People, For the People. It is By the Wealthy, For the Wealthy, and it's causing an economic crash. THAT is the issue at the heart of these protests.

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

      What "astonishlingly high" profit margins are you talking about? Most profit margins are less than 8%. You hear of the billions of dollars that oil companies make, but that is on hundreds of billions that they have invested! There are exceptions of course. Funny how these people don't complain about actors, sports figures, and entertainers making millions per year!

      And one other note – if Wall Street is buying politicians it is because the politicians CAN BE BOUGHT. So why on earth would you want more government control of anything?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • ronjon

      Crystal clear – everybody should have the same level of economic success – regardless if you work or not. So are we going to ask the rich to give us free money or do we have to kill them all. Awaiting instructions comrade.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nic P M

      Right on! we need to keep on being organized. If we are united we can accomplish a lot, peacefully. Think about our power when as a massive group, we canh boycott big corporations. We can start by moving our money out of the banks to credit unions, stay out of certain stores, not going to certain sport events. When prices go up, we can stop using certain things and we will start seing results.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tre

    There will always be some element in society that will be jealous of those that are successful. They believe that those people became successful, not through hard work – including education – but because of some luck of society. Therefore, they believe that the successful "owe" something to those that have not been successful.

    If a poor mixed race child can work hard and grow up to be president, what is stopping others from being successful if they apply themselves?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      Oh come on. That president and the congress are all bought and owned by the corporate elite dummy! This is not about jelousy of the wealthy, it is about anger because of their crimes which go unpunished!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blake

    Another classic example of the leftist media creating news rather than reporting it. A large percentage of those present at these protests are media people. And the crowds are pretty small. Certainly not warranting the level of media attention they are receiving. Hmmm.

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

    "a movement largely ignored by the mainstream media?" SERIOUSLY? THis silly "protest" has been splattered across CNNs banner for a month...

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

    Sorry folks there is nothing better than what we had unless we just want to give it all away and start over begging liberals to do it for us. and we all know where that will lead.. Regulate your lives consume less and pay cash and support your local bank that supports your community. Or grab a number from the NWO !

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

    Shades of the rise of Hitler. During an economic downturn, Hitler gave the German people somone to blame all their troubles on, the wealthy jews, eventually leading to the mass murder of millions. Now the US has found someone they can blame their troubles on, the wealthy of the US. Let's hope the mob mentality doesn't lead to the same consequences here....

    October 17, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      Or Bill, it's more like the spirit of 1776... but think the worst if you must...

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

      Which is simply another term for the Jews if you hear a LOT of the hateful rhetoric being spewed by this infinitesimal minority! They are anti-semetic even if the majority of them don't even realize it. Perhaps the endorsement by the American Nazi Party will wake some of them up.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Marty Curran

    The bankers and wall street know who we are, who are children are, and where we live. They have access to our bank accounts, mortgages and wages. NOW, we must know who they are, who their family members are, and where they live. SPREAD the word and everyone who knows who these people are begin to post pictures of them and there families. Why should they be able to hide in the shadows with the billions they have stolen from us. Why should their children be able to hide in the shadows with the toys and food they stole from our children who no longer have pillows or food on their tables. WHO ARE THEY??

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

      Great. Marty wants to start a psycho-stalker movement.

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

      What billions have they stole "from us"? Just organizer babble.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      This posting should be enough to scare anyone!! What's next? Forcing the wealthy US citizens to wear a scarlett letter on their clothings, shave their heads, move to internment camps? Wake up people and stop blaming your troubles on others.

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

      They will be revealed!

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

    I don't think people want a handout. I am all for making money working hard. But where I have a problem and I think alot of the people protesting have a problem is being ripped off their retirement pensions and stock, by an elite few who manipulated the markets new what they were doing was wrong and made the whole system crash and are not being held accountable for it. But being bailed out and walking away with a fortune! Fricken ridiculous!

    October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matters

    Excessive greed is not good for any system. Moderate greed is normal. The problem in the US is excessive greed.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tcp

    At least you finally have the American Communist Party, The American Nazi Party, and the Chinese on your side. Now you can make some REAL progress...

    October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. elflander

    What does the sign say in the photo that accompanies the main headline?

    Is it "Capitalism is Crushed"? "Capitalism is Crashing?"

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