2021 | Police & Fire

More than 100 drivers ‘met up’ in Silver Spring, leading to downtown chaos

No one was arrested, but traffic citations issued, police say; Hucker says 'lawlessness' must stop

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Tire tracks were visible at the intersection of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring Sunday morning.

Photo by Anne Tallent

This story was updated at 3:35 p.m. Nov. 22, 2021, to add comments from Tom Hucker.

More than 100 drivers “met up” in Silver Spring on Saturday night, leading to downtown chaos, then drove away when police arrived Saturday night,

It was a chaotic scene, with cars spinning around at a main intersection and fireworks going off, as shown in videos posted online.

“This lawlessness in Silver Spring has to stop,” Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker said during a weekly briefing with reporters on Monday.

The drivers met up in a parking lot in the 12000 block of Cherry Hill Road around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday, police spokesman Carlos Cortes-Vazquez wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat. Officers “began enforcement efforts, which quickly dissipated the event,” according to Cortes-Vazquez.

But the drivers then fled and went to downtown Silver Spring, Cortes-Vazquez wrote.

According to reports on social media, drivers blocked intersections in downtown Silver Spring and spun their cars in circles (known as “doing donuts”), and some set off fireworks.

Police on Monday morning did not address questions about whether the drivers did donuts or set off fireworks.

Officers later cleared blocked intersections in Silver Spring and “cited some operators of vehicles for various traffic-related offenses,” according to Cortes-Vazquez. The drivers in the group then drove to Prince George’s County, he wrote.

“No one involved in the group of vehicles was arrested. At this time, injuries have not been reported,” Cortes-Vazquez wrote.

A Maryland State police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

A similar incident happened in June when a driver did donuts in downtown Silver Spring, blocking a major intersection as a crowd of people watched, Fox 5 reported.

Hucker told reporters on Monday that it has been “deeply troubling” to see a rise in crime across Silver Spring recently.

Hucker said Saturday’s “noisy car rally” in Silver Spring is part of an “unaddressed rise in reckless driving and car meetups.”

He said that according to a report from Montgomery County 3rd District Commander David McBain, the car meetup started in the parking lot of a Target on Cherry Hill Road and continued through the Silver Spring central business district. The intersection of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Drive was blocked while cars were spinning, he said.

“This lawlessness in Silver Spring has to stop,” he said. “I believe we need a much more vigorous and coordinated law enforcement effort to step up and take action to prevent future incidents like these from happening and shut them down immediately before someone gets killed or seriously injured.”

Hucker also criticized the police department on Monday, saying he was disappointed that no arrests were made. He added that he wished he had learned about Saturday’s incident first from the department, rather than the media.

Hucker, who is running for county executive, said previously that Burtonsville experienced similar problems with “car rallies,” but after he met with state lawmakers and police, Montgomery County police have “effectively shut down the car meetups in Burtonsville and put preventative measures in place.”

“We really need the same urgency to deploy appropriate resources in Silver Spring,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com