Ted Ernst said the protest was running late -- probably had something to do with 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground and a 20 mph wind whipping off Lake Michigan.
"I'm with the humanist movement," said Ernst as he chatted with delayed protesters on his cell phone. "I expect six or seven people will be here in a half-hour, all on their bicycles."
He said the group would hoist banners along busy Michigan Avenue and hand out leaflets to passersby on their way to work after the heaviest snowfall of the season.
The small band was to be the vanguard of what protest leaders hoped would be well-attended die-ins, vigils and teach-ins at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois and a massive citywide afternoon rally at Federal Plaza.
No civil disobedience was planned but the frigid chill could test the mettle of the mostly young demonstrators. Rally organizers planned to hold a lottery for an open microphone to give people two minutes to speak their minds after the featured speakers finish.
Leaflets handed out by the National Moratorium to Stop the War called for "No school, no work, no business as usual." People were asked to show "small acts of courage" like ringing church bells, calling in "sick of war" or wearing a black armband to show opposition to an attack on Iraq.
One of the leaflets asked, "If you had known about Hiroshima in advance, what would you have done to stop it?"
Wednesday was to be a day action nationally with campus walkouts at 300 high schools and colleges in "Books, Not Bombs" strikes coordinated by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. Anti-war librarians called for "weapons of mass instruction."
"Hundreds of kids walked out at Evanston Township High School at 10:30 a.m. and marched downtown to Fountain Square," peace coalition spokesman David Trippel said.
Organizers hoped for large walkouts in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia in actions supported by students in France, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Britain and Canada.
The Chicago protests would escalate on the day of an attack on Iraq and the day after with civil disobedience at Federal Plaza.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined union leaders and professors for an anti-war teach-in at the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of dozens of daylong teach-ins around the country tackling issues of free speech, implications of war on Iraq, sanctions on Iraq and the consequences of U.S. foreign policy.
Seven protesters, including former CIA employees Kathy and Bill Christison, planned to fly to Iraq Thursday to join an American Peace delegation. The Santa Fe, N.M., couple became active in the peace movement after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Poets Against the War planned an International Day of Poetry Against the War in suburban Evanston and Woodstock and the Chicago Jazz Anti-War All-Stars were to perform at the Hot House nightclub.
Students lobbied the Aurora City Council to pass a resolution opposing military action against Iraq, something Chicago, New York, San Francisco and more than 100 cities and local governments have done. Houston and dozens of other cities defeated anti-war resolutions.