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Beyond Wall Street: 'Occupy' protests go global

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
October 7, 2011 -- Updated 0646 GMT (1446 HKT)
Facebook calls for a global
Facebook calls for a global "Occupy" protest on October 15 similar to the demonstrations on Wall Street have appeared in more than 25 countries.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Facebook calls for a global "Occupy" protest on October 15 similar to the Wall Street protests
  • Demonstrations in more than 25 countries from Ireland to Italy, Hong Kong to Chile
  • "Occupy the London Stock Exchange" plans nearly two months of demonstrations
  • Melbourne organizer: "We are inspired by what's happening on Wall Street"

(CNN) -- Wall Street is more than 10,000 miles away from Melbourne, but 24-year-old Australian Alex Gard felt a kinship to the outrage expressed on the streets of Manhattan.

"It's great that people are finally standing up against the privileged few people who want to rule together," Gard said. "I wanted to stand together and say, `Enough is enough'."

Gard is one of the organizers of "Occupy Melbourne," a group that started on Facebook that now has more than 2,000 members with plans to protest on October 15 in City Square. Similar calls have sprung up around Australia: "Occupy Brisbane," "Occupy Perth," and "Occupy Sydney."

"We are inspired by what's happening on Wall Street and loosely liaising with each other, but it's not organized in any central way," said Gard, who works as a mechanic on cargo ships.

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Gard and the planned Australian spin-offs of "Occupy Wall Street" are not alone. There are Facebook calls for a global demonstration on October 15 in cities in more than 25 countries stretching from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires, Dublin to Madrid.

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Some protest pages show only a few dozen will attend; others have thousands. Protest pages in Spain and Italy -- two countries hard hit by the financial crisis and subsequent European Union debt woes -- have the largest Facebook attendees so far, with 42,410 and 20,568, respectively.

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"Occupy Wall Street" began on September 17 and is now spreading to cities across the U.S. The demonstrations, inspired by the Arab Spring protest movement, are against economic inequality and power vested in the top 1% income earners. Its rallying cry, "We are the 99 percent," is now being picked up by groups around the globe.

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"Occupy the London Stock Exchange" -- referring to Europe's largest bourse and the world's fourth largest exchange outside of New York and Tokyo -- has more than 6,000 followers.

"It's time that we too say, enough is enough. Bankers have got off scot-free whilst the people of this country are being punished for a crisis they did not create," said the group's Facebook invite page. The event, which so far has 2,300 signed up as attending, plans to occupy Paternoster Square from 4 p.m. October 15 to December 12.

"What we have in common is that we are the other 99%, that we want people over profit, that we are making our voices heard against greed and corruption and for a democratic and just society," London organizer James Alexander Fancourt told the Telegraph newspaper. "And we are doing that in a non-violent and peaceful way."

In Melbourne, "some demonstrators are planning to camp for days, maybe weeks," Gard said.

While the Australian economy -- driven by strong commodity sales of iron ore and coal --escaped the brunt of the 2008 financial crisis, Gard said many Australians don't feel they're sharing in the wealth.

"Look, Australia's not the worst place in the world, but we're seeing banks recording record profits, rental has been crazy, housing prices are going up and up," Gar said. "Indigenous people are being moved off their own land for the sake of mining companies ... everything is building up to a boiling point."

CNN's Saga McFarland contributed to this report

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