the House Is on Fire

Activists and politicians fight back at crack

The argument began, police say, when Beverli Black accused her boyfriend of spending their last $15 on crack. She stormed out of their one-room apartment in Freeport, L.I., late one night last week to try to borrow some food stamps. Daren Jenkins, 23, an unemployed cabinetmaker, stalked over to the bed where Black's son Batik was sleeping. High on crack, an extremely potent and addictive form of cocaine, Jenkins allegedly beat the little boy to death. Batik would have been three years old this month.

"Crack it up, crack it up," the drug dealers murmur from the leafy parks of the...

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