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. CarlosinTx

    Bush Issued this Executive order on May 5 2006: tinyurlDOTcom/ozldl
    “Assignment Of Function Relating To Granting Of Authority For Issuance Of Certain Directives: Memorandum For The Director Of National Intelligence.”

    Carolyn Baker tinyurlDOTcom/ylzjmv
    “The use of national security law to create exceptions to the SEC law requiring books, records and transparency means that the basic conditions of markets are now gone. The black budget can now be the official budget for both government and private banks and corporations.

    “Organized crime is now officially legal and combined with the stock and capital markets - all enforced by force and rigged profits. This is the economic infrastructure for fascism.”

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

      this is interesting but you need to be more clear. sources? full text?

      October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mikey

    There was the "Arab Spring" now we have the Socialist Spring. Historically, haven't we seen that movie starring Karl Marx and Fredrick Engles. How'd that on turn out?

    October 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYer4Life

      It's sad that you don't see the truth. This is pure democracy. This is about anti-facism.

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

      If at first you don't succeed.... (you've heard the rest). The world is trying to find a better system. Karl Marx didn't nail it, but he started the discussion. It's much easier to demonize the opposition than find solutions.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • rave0n

      No it isn't... you've bought into the fear...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NYer4Life

    I am well-paid and hard-working and am a capitalist through-and-through. But after sending my sons off to college, I am deep in debt. I am the 99%. I pray this movement continues to build steam. They have my heartfelt support!

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

      You are no longer a capitalist. You have bought into the myth of these "protesters" claims...

      October 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gpc

    the "occupy' movement is unfocused inarticulate and unworthy of the coverage it is receiving. We it not for the fact it serves to distract from the real problem of out of control governments, the "movement' would pass unobserved.

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

      what part of economic justice don't you understand?

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

      Please tell us what YOU think "economic justice" means. Then tell us how YOU would achieve it.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MichaelX

    Both sides: Quit demonizing the opposition. The protesters are all lazy bums, and the capitalists are all thieves and manipulators. If you believe that, I have some shares of stock in a bridge I'd like to sell you. Capitalism and socialism share the political landscape; the true discussion is where to draw the lines between what we hold in common and what we hold as individuals. And if you can't distinguish between creative capitalism (Steve Jobs et al) and manipulative capitalism (hedge funds, etc), then you're never going to come to a reasonable conclusion about any of it.

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

      Hedge Funds although their too risky for me don't force anyone to participate, caveit emptor. Steve Jobs/Apple was financed by venture capitalists, many of which participate in hedge funds.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • CarlosinTx

      See that is the difference, you being a capitalist think you can claim the right to sell the bridge when in effect the bridge was paid for by the people, and works flawlessly for over a century with proper upkeep which also provides jobs. You, as a capitalist believe your money is sacred and should not be taxed, while everyone else's money is up for grabs. That will be your downfall.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. volksmaniac

    There was a occupy rally in my town this past weekend . There were approximately 300 people who attended . I talked with quite a few of them throughout the day . There were a few who actually gave a credible reason for attending . However , the majority said that they came down to watch what happened . A few said they came to party . Not a lot of dedicated protesters , mostly rubber-neckers . There were about a half dozen who were still there this morning . Most of them said they were staying .

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

    why don't the people, CEO's who stole the money be forced to bail the Banks and Companies out ? Instead of robbing the taxpayers as usual, tax all income over $1 million at 110% and see what happens, with stiff jail sentences if caught cheating

    October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. IdahoPlant

    There's nothing wrong with capitalism. The ability to profit from one's own hard work is what makes us strong. The problem is with business having undue influence on government. Just as we have separation of church and state, we should have separation of business and state. As it stands, mega corporations run this country. Politicians are mere puppets to corporate CEOs. Let's have campaign reform in that each candidate gets a set amount of money from taxes to run an election campaign. No contributions of any kind should be allowed. Of course, that'll never happen because politicians would have to vote it into law.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYer4Life

      +1! You've got it right. Long live capitalism – down with corporate greed. All we ask is that we can compete fairly. Campaign contribution are bribes.

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

      Right! I'm with you.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      Then you should be on the steps of the Capitol building, NOT Wall Street. If campaign finance reform was really what this is about, they wouldn't be on Wall Street. The thing is, the handlers of these protests are right wing fanatics who want nothing short of HUGE movement down the Marxist continuum...

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

      Great post, nice to see there are people out there with a bit of common sense.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |

      Profit is what it's all about but how they choose to make it is the problem. Our corporation chose to take the easy way out by doing one or two way. They either lay workers off or move to a county with no regulation with cheap labor. Doesn't take much thought to do this and it sure increases profits quickly and iincentive bonuses too for senior management.

      October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CarlosinTx

    Let see... Borrow from the Fed @ .5% and then buy U.S. debt at 2.5% = 2% profit for doing nothing. No wonder Wall St. is raping us, they are being force fed by the bought and paid for Government.

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

    In light of the tea parties success the Silent Majority is finally speaking up. The greed and corruption in corporate American is out of control. We as Americans have become complacent and many have been pushed to the limit. As for deregulation. Deregulating corporations would be like our law inforcement saying the speed limit signs are posted, "We trust you to obey them". To give corporations the freedom to watch themselves would be the destruction of our world as we know it, economically & ecologically .

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

      well said

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

    Its the expansion of the wealth gap, Stupit.

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

    The Ants always win no matter how hard you try to step on them all.
    The only way to truly take the money out of government is to change the structure of government http://www.thisinstead.info

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


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

    saw in another post, love the sarcasm!
    remember when teachers, public employees, planned parenthood, PBS, and NRP crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in taxpayer funded bail outs, gave themselves billions in bonuses and paid no taxes? yeah...me neither...

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

    God made us in his image,,, that is why 1% control 99 % of the sheep. bow down to the conservative god of economics ..judge not..

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