6:30 PM UPDATE
Coyote Moto's collection of confrontation videos appear to have been removed from YouTube.
All links to his controversial videos previously accessed by SooToday are now overwritten "This video has been removed by the uploader" and are no longer accessible to the public.
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service (SSMPS) has confirmed that it’s investigating a series of YouTube videos where a man calling himself ‘Coyote Moto’ aggressively confronts - and in some instances, threatens - people with items that he believes have been stolen, all while riding around town on his motorcycle.
The videos show Coyote Moto sometimes demanding that the items in question, many of them bicycles, be turned over to him. A common theme in the videos has been watching for individuals he feels look like "junkies" and confronting them about items in their possession.
His 50th video, posted Monday, is titled "Junkie, thats mine now !!"
SSMPS isn’t saying if the investigation was launched as a result of a SooToday article, or if the videos were being investigated prior the coverage.
“I can’t speak a whole lot on it, as it is under investigation at this time,” said Sault Ste. Marie Police Service spokesperson Lincoln Louttit.
Loutitt says that although taking matters into one’s own hands isn’t encouraged by police, people can perform a citizen’s arrest - with a "reasonable" use of force when necessary - under some circumstances.
But at the same time, people need to know the Criminal Code of Canada and understand all the responsibilities and obligations contained within it.
“Citizens do have the authority to detain somebody for police, however, they are under an obligation to immediately notify officers,” Louttit said.
Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano told SooToday over the phone Wednesday that he was “certainly bothered by it” when asked about the YouTube videos.
“No person in our community has a right to drive around and look for people to demean and threaten,” said Provenzano. “People with addiction issues deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and our community should embrace someone who is struggling with compassion.”
SooToday reached out to a number of community organizations and advocacy groups that work with clients who live with mental health and addictions issues. The majority of them declined to comment.
Rob Thibodeau is a senior counsellor for Ken Brown Recovery Home, a 14-bed residential addiction treatment home for men that’s been in the Sault for nearly five decades. He told SooToday Wednesday that while he is not aware of the videos, the world in general doesn’t understand the illness of addiction - only seeing the outward effects of somebody using substances, which sometimes involves crime and behaviour that is outside of what is considered the norm.
“I would hope that people would want to get more informed about the illness of substance use disorder and addiction, and what can we do to help these people, versus stigmatizing them and making them feel they’re less than and they’re not an important part of society,” he said.
SooToday has reached out to the creator of the videos for comment.
- with files from David Helwig