The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago joins in sorrow with the victims of last weekend’s shootings in Chicago. We are outraged that 71 people were shot and that 12 have died, including two who were just 17. They were a part of us, and we are diminished by their loss.

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Reducing gun violence is a moral imperative for promoting justice in our community. In every religious tradition, human life is sacred. People have a right to personal safety, and that right is violated when they experience or are at-risk of gun violence.

We reject the proposition that the only solution to gun violence is to arm ourselves further with more and more weapons. We know that the immediate answer rests in policies that reduce access to weapons and keep guns out of the hands of anyone who poses a significant risk of personal injury to themselves or others. We commend those community groups and elected officials who are working for these changes, and we support those in law enforcement who are interrupting illegal gun trafficking and arresting those who stoke the flames of gun violence.

The communities of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago continue to work and provide services throughout Chicago to sustain families, support children, and protect the least among us. We cannot do it alone. We cannot expect long-term solutions without change and hope. We need safe spaces for children to learn and play, for people to seek and find meaningful work, and for neighbors to gather and worship without fear. We call on the religious leaders of every community to join us in seeking solutions. We must all come together to build a better community.

Nisan Chavkin, Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago

Unfair bait

I wish the Chicago Police Department would plant one of their bait trucks next to one of those rich. snobby schools and see how fast those kids would hop in and grab boxes.

This entrapment is sick. You go the the poorest places where kids have nothing, you tease and trap them and claim you’re doing such a service to the community.

Go service the rich kids and see how many thieves you’ll find. At least their parents can afford to get them out of jail and pay for their “mistakes” to go away cause they’re just kids, right? I just don’t know how you can sleep at night planning “baits” like this that prey on the poorest neighborhoods.

Patricia Salecki, Summit

Staying silent

Will NFL players, including those on the Bears, take a knee for the 12 people slain by Chicago street gangs last weekend? The only black lives that matter to them are those that fit their agenda.

When cops murder innocent people of color, we hear justifiable outrage. But social justice warriors stay silent when street thugs do it.

Richard Reif, Flushing, New York

Mikita will always be part of us

Stan Mikita might have retired in 1980, but it always seemed like he was still on the team even 38 years after his last shift on the ice. And when the Blackhawks brought Stan back along with Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, and Denis Savard for one last shift, it was like Stan and the rest of our Hawks never left. Though Stan is gone, he’ll always be a part of many of us.

When I was a kid growing up and playing on the frozen Budweiser parking lot in Logan Square or the half-frozen, watery rink at Holstein Park, you wanted to be Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Tony Esposito. It didn’t matter if you played in your rubber boots, Chucky Taylors, or your older cousin’s figure skates, you wanted to be one of them.

Back then, we played “dibs” before we started playing the game. No, not the dibs familiar to Chicagoans: saving a snow-shoveled parking spot with an old chair or the baby Jesus’ statue. This dibs was the chance to say “I’m Stan Mikita” or “I’m Bobby Hull.”

There was actually a game within a game before we even started playing the real game. First, one team captain would take a stick and throw it in the air for the other team captain to catch. Then each team captain would alternate fists on the stick to see who got to the top and became the winner, who was allowed to pick their team. The Hawks was the team to get, with the other team usually being a Hawks rival like the Bruins and Rangers.

Then, the real game began, when our neighborhood Hawks teammates would dibs a Hawks player and say quickly “I’m Stan Mikita” or “I’m Bobby Hull.”

Somehow, thinking we were Mikita or Hull made us better players. We thought we could run or skate faster, shoot harder, and become winners by default as nobody beat the Hawks. When our Cub Scouts pack went to a Hawks game in the early ’70s and saw all the other Stan Mikitas and Bobby Hulls in the stands, and the real Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull on the ice, we all thought our Hawks could never lose.

Though Stan is gone, he’ll be remembered forever in the hearts and minds of those of us who wanted to be like him.

Walter Brzeski, Dunning