Monday, August 24, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CA - Inez Rivera recalls the last words of her cousin, Hector 'Lil Dog' Herrera. "He said that downgrading Pluto to a dwarf planet was 'punk-ass.'" For that, Herrera - a member of the 18th St. Gang - was cut down by members of the Florencia 13 Gang in a parking lot near the Staples Center. According to Rivera and other witnesses, Herrera 'ate more rounds than Sonny Corleone,' becoming the latest victim in the continuing violence over the status of Pluto.
Three years ago, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from full to dwarf planet catching the LAPD completely off-guard. "Normally, we're given advance notice on any celestial changes," said Sgt. George Haskell. "But this time, the IAU fouled up. If it were just naming a new asteroid, that would be one thing. But Pluto is an original Big Nine solar system planet." The IAU apologized, but, according to Haskell, word was already spreading on the street.
Inez Rivera remembers 'Lil Dog growing upset. "He said Pluto orbited the sun and that gravity had crushed it into a nearly round shape. What more did the IAU bitches want?" But rival Florencia 13 didn't agree. A member identifying himself as "Raul," stated that with the upgrading of asteroid Ceres to dwarf planet status, Pluto had proved itself 'weak' and anyone who defended it was a 'sissy.' And Florencia didn't care who knew.
They should have. Within a week, the remains of a Florencia 13 gang member were found scattered around an empty lot on Western Avenue. Sgt. Haskell recalls the case: "Forensics indicated the victim died from a package containing seven hand-grenades and a highway flare inserted in his rectum."
Inez Rivera says that after the first killing, there was no turning back. "You were either down with Pluto as a planet, or you thought it was a suck-ass ball-of-ice. There was no other way. Still isn't." Since 2006, eighty-seven people have died or disappeared - mostly gang members - but the toll includes two Astronomers for Peace who attempted to mediate the conflict and were never seen again.
Haskell walked the parking lot near Staples, glancing at the numbered cards indicating the location of spent rounds. "Herrera was so full of lead we had to pick him up with a magnet." The veteran cop sighed, "It's a big universe, with room for heavenly bodies of all kinds. Maybe one day people will learn that." (Photos: backtowild.com & russiablog.org)