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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Clash at Tesla’s German Factory

In response to the disruptions, Tesla temporarily halted operations but did not provide specific comments on the protests. 

Hundreds of activists, numbering around 800, gathered outside Tesla’s factory near Berlin in protest against the company’s expansion plans. Organized by Disrupt, a coalition of anti-capitalist groups, the protesters aimed to disrupt Tesla’s operations.

Attempts to breach the Tesla premises led to clashes with police and temporary halts in rail traffic. Police reports indicated that activists neared the Deutsche Bahn railroad tracks, necessitating the stoppage of rail services between Erkner and Fürstenwalde. However, authorities successfully prevented the group from entering the factory.

Disrupt spokesperson Ole Becker highlighted the confrontational nature of the protests, citing instances of police violence and injuries among the demonstrators. The activists aimed to draw attention to their concerns over Tesla’s environmental impact, particularly its plans to expand production capacity, which they believe would harm the local environment by clearing forests and straining water supply.

Tesla’s Response and Production Disruptions

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, responded to the protests, confirming that activists did not breach the factory’s fence lines. Tesla had shut down its operations for the day in anticipation of protests, demonstrating the disruptive effect of the ongoing tensions surrounding the expansion plans.

Earlier, in January, Tesla had announced a planned shutdown of production lines, with all factory employees instructed to stay home due to expected protests. Tesla’s factory had faced previous disruptions, including a forced closure in March due to an arson attack on a power-delivering electricity pylon.

The arson, claimed by far-left activists, underscored the intense opposition and activism directed towards Tesla’s presence in the region. The company’s decision to shut down operations in response to protests highlights the significant challenges posed by ongoing community resistance.

Environmental Concerns and Continued Resistance

Disrupt Tesla’s resistance to Tesla’s expansion reflects broader environmental concerns associated with the electric vehicle industry. The group also emphasized global issues, such as environmental degradation in countries like Argentina and Bolivia due to lithium mining, a key resource for electric vehicle batteries. The protests aimed not only to oppose Tesla’s local expansion but also to raise awareness of broader environmental impacts associated with the electric vehicle supply chain.

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Police confirmed that some protesters attempted to enter the Tesla plant, resulting in detentions and reports of injuries. Beyond the clash at the factory, some activists damaged Tesla cars at a nearby storage site. The police, while acknowledging the right to assembly, stressed their responsibility for public safety and order, intervening when necessary to maintain control.