City councilor calls on Boston police to address drag racing, illegal vehicle gatherings after Back Bay incident

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Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn wrote a letter urging BPD to investigate a gathering of people and cars drag racing and doing donuts at 2 a.m. Sunday.

The aftermath of the Sunday morning incident at the intersection of Marlborough and Dartmouth Streets. Ava Berger

A Boston city councilor is calling on the Boston Police Department to take action against street racing and other dangerous road activity after numerous vehicles were reported drag racing and doing donuts early in the morning in Back Bay over the weekend. 

In a letter to Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox, District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn urged the department to investigate the illegal weekend gathering and work to prevent similar events as the weather gets warmer. 

The incident in Back Bay, which was reported to the department at about 2 a.m. on Sunday, involved about 40 people and 15 cars gathered in the area of Dartmouth Street and Marlborough Street. When officers arrived, some 40 cars were blocking Commonwealth Avenue and people were seen recording the vehicles drag racing, doing burnouts and donuts, and driving the wrong way on one-way roads. 

“This is not an isolated incident,” Flynn wrote in the letter to Cox Monday. “Our city streets, and even highways, have seen drag racing, as well as dirt bikes and ATVs traveling in groups at dangerous speeds and blocking traffic, especially during summertime.”

District 2 encompasses parts of South Boston, Chinatown, and the South End.

These incidents, along with the driving of off-road vehicles in what police call a “reckless and irresponsible manner,” typically increase in the summer. Historically, these off-road vehicles have not been properly registered and have even been stolen, BPD said in an alert last July.

In his letter, Flynn also mentions “some sort of rave” last year where a large number of cars gathered at the South Boston Waterfront in the early morning hours.

“Residents in my district have long been concerned about dirt bikes, ATVs, and dangerous behavior with vehicles,” Flynn wrote. “As summer approaches, we need to be proactive in addressing these issues, perhaps keeping track of vehicles that are engaged in these illegal races, and seizing stolen vehicles that are engaged in these activities.”

Flynn’s letter emphasized the danger of these activities for those involved and the impact on the quality of life for residents in the area. Street racing is especially dangerous due to the high speeds and stunts participants try to perform, sometimes for the sake of viral internet videos.

Video of Sunday morning’s incident obtained by The Boston Globe shows cars — with passengers hanging out of them — doing donuts at the center of a crowd gathered to watch and record. 

Flynn called for Boston police to “thoroughly investigate” Sunday’s incident. No arrests were made in the incident as of Sunday night, but one responding officer issued five parking violations to vehicles double-parked on Commonwealth Avenue, according to a police report. 

The Boston Police Department did not respond to questions from Tuesday afternoon about whether there is an investigation into the incident and what measures the department may take to curb the illegal activity going forward. 

“With the weather getting warmer, it is critical to take measures to address this type of dangerous racing and gatherings in our neighborhood streets,” Flynn wrote in the letter. 

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