Protesters attempt to storm Tesla German plant, clash with police

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 10:09 AM

BERLIN (Reuters) – Protesters opposed to expansion of U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla’s plant in Grueneheide near Berlin clashed with police as some of them attempted to storm the facility on Friday.

Some 800 people took part in the protest, according to the organising group Disrupt Tesla, which claims the expansion would damage the environment.

A Reuters video showed dozens of people wearing blue caps and face-covering masks coming from a nearby wooded area and attempting to storm the company’s premises with policemen trying to prevent them, including by force. At least one protester was detained.

“Why do the police let the left-wing protestors off so easily?” Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote on his social medial platform X, adding that the demonstrators didn’t manage to break through.

The video also showed medical personnel helping some injured people.

“We are here today to draw attention to the Tesla factory in Grunheide for the environmental destruction here,” Disrupt Tesla spokesperson Ole Becker told Reuters.

The group also wants to highlight environmental destruction in countries like Argentina or Bolivia, brought about by lithium mining, according to Becker. Lithium is a key resource for electric vehicle batteries.

“We protect the freedom of assembly,” Brandenburg police spokesperson Mario Heinemann said, “but we are also responsible for public order and safety. That means we will also intervene when necessary”.

The police confirmed that the protesters tried to enter the plant’s premises, but were prevented, with several people taken into custody, and that it received a few reports of injuries.

Some of the demonstrators have damaged a few Tesla cars using pyrotechnics and paint at a nearby car storage site, the police spokesperson added.

Tesla earlier this week said it will shut the factory for one day on Friday, without specifying a reason.

(Reporting by Andrey Sychev, Christina Amann, and Anna Dittrich; Editing by Bill Berkrot)