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NYC Pastor Faces Off With Local Drug Users

By Mei Schultz 06/19/13

A pastor receives threats after alerting police to "drug addicted behavior" around his Upper East Side church. 

"You think your all that holy?" Photo via

The newly-gentrified neighborhood surrounding the Roman Catholic St. Joseph’s Church of Yorkville on the Upper East Side is now under 24-hour police surveillance after the pastor received a threatening letter from local drug dealers, the New York Times reports. “Watch your back! You have to walk outside—you know," reads the letter. "Do you think that your all that holy?” The threat was not unprecedented. On Memorial Day Weekend, Father Boniface, perturbed by open drug use in the neighborhood and even within his church, confronted a man slumped over in a back pew. "I said to him, ‘Kevin, you’re using drugs, who is selling them to you?’” the pastor told the Times. “He got to his feet, mumbled, ‘Father, Father,’ and walked out. There was a filthy needle on the bench.” The incident provoked Father Boniface, 67, to write to the local police about drug use, dealing and loitering. “We are dismayed that the children who attend our school can see the same things that adults can, including public urination and defecation, indecent exposure, prostitution, and extreme drunken and drug addicted behavior,” he wrote, and collected about 700 signatures from his parishioners. Cops have since stationed a van on the church’s corner and cleared loiterers from the surrounding area. Boniface seems unruffled by the threats, noting that whoever wrote them: "left DNA evidence all over the envelope."

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Mei Schultz is a copy editor, journalist and uUndergraduate Research Assistant at Columbia University Medical Center. You can find her on Linkedin.

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