By Graeme Smith
For 20 hours last Wednesday and Thursday, the only place Jason Diceman could oee was in a heating vent behind potted plants.
“I wanted to go home to sleep,” said Diceman, a first-year RTA student at Ryerson.
“It was almost savage,” said Nick Osicka, a first-year philosophy student from Guelph. “At times it got tense and you just wanted to leave.”
Instead, both spent the night on a floor strewn with shredded bank brochures. Diceman and Osicka were among 85 students who stormed into the headquarters of the CIBC at King and Bay Streets. They staged an all-night sit-in against rising tuition and student debt loads.
A rally by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) brought thousands of students from Ryerson, York, U of T and high schools to the heart of the financial district at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
A group of determined protesters later charged into CIBC’s lobby, demonstrating their anger isn’t aimed solely at the governments.
CFS organizer Gord Tanner, RyeSAC’s VP education, said the occupation wasn’t arranged. “I wasn’t surprised, but there wasn’t any plan,” he said.
Protesters inside the bank waved flags and shouted, “No justice? No peace!”” as they climbed the rafters to tape paper over security cameras.
Outside the bank, demonstrators banged their fists and signs against the windows, forcing riot police to lock the doors and seal the area.
Officers fended off protesters and cameraman as Amanda Dorter, a second-year Guelph student, was dragged away in a flurry of shouts.
Dorter was taken outside and released. “[The police] bruised me and kicked another student,” she said.
Two other were also removed. One protester, George Shepherd, was charged.
Like most other protesters, first-year Ryerson film student Derek MacGillivray said the police couldn’t scare him off. “I’ll stay until they take me away,” he said.
As the evening wore on, the protesters sat in the carpeted lobby, ripping up CIBC brochures and singing songs like, “If you’re happy and you know it, burn the banks.”
Police spokesman Mike Sale said CIBC chose not to arrest the students for trespassing. “The students are here at the pleasure of the bank,” he said.
Police wouldn’t allow the protesters food or water, but supporters passed licorice through a gap between the windows.
A screen of newspapers and potted plants over a heating vent served as a bathroom, filling the lobby with the smell of urine.
By mid-morning Thursday, the protesters, tired and hungry, decided their point had been made.
They took a collection of $61to donate to the janitors before bursting out of the rubbish-strewn lobby and running to the nearest foot court.
Diceman was still strong standing in the food court after his long night. “I feel really energized,” he said. “I think we accomplished a lot.”