Berlin Tesla workers say civil disobedience is the only option – DW – 05/11/2024

workers holding press conference On Saturday he complained of betrayal by regional politicians over the expansion of Tesla's electric car factory and said civil disobedience was necessary.

According to police, at least 1,000 activists participated in the protest.

His comments came as authorities prepared for a repeat of violent clashes between police and protesters the previous day.

Activists blocked the entrance to Neuhardenberg airfield.  Tesla vehicles that were produced at the factory in Grünheide are temporarily stored at the airfield site
Activists have blocked the entrance to the site where vehicles made at the factory in Grünheide are temporarily storedImage: Patrick Plull/dpa/Picture Alliance

A police spokesman said the march on Saturday proceeded largely peacefully.

Police said there were minor clashes with activists, but did not initially provide any information about injuries or arrests.

What did the protesters say?

Disrupt Tesla Group said the political and environmental problems went beyond the carmaker owned by Elon Musk and spread to other auto makers.

“It doesn't matter if it's Tesla, VW or Mercedes – the car companies and their political supporters are responsible for selling our lives,” said Lucia Mende, spokeswoman for the Disrupt Tesla group, ahead of the planned demonstration.

“We have to stop this and we will stop this,” he said.

Some residents in Grünheide, where billionaire Musk has built his only European Tesla factory, say both the company and the Brandenburg state government have ignored citizens' interests in pursuing the expansion.

“They're doing this, they're not listening to the sensitivities of local people,” said Stephan Schorcht, a spokesman for the citizens' initiative. “It only serves Tesla's interests.”

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“If you keep fighting and hitting the wall and don't know what else to do, sometimes civil disobedience is all that's left.”

Police were prepared for further violence

Police said they faced more trouble after several people were arrested after activists attempted to vandalize the factory on Friday evening.

Regional broadcaster RBB said several hundred people ran toward the Tesla facility, many of them wearing masks and black clothing.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered near the incident site on Saturday afternoon.

A police spokesperson said, “We are aware.” He said the situation was calm during the night and morning.

Activists set up a protest camp, including tree houses, near the factory in late February and have remained there since.

Tesla was forced to suspend production in March after an arson attack on a power pole disrupted the factory's power supply. The far-left extremist “Volcano Group” said it attacked the power grid.

Opponents of the expansion, which would also include a freight depot and require clearing of forest, say their concerns are primarily environmental.

They generally criticize the production of electric cars and cite fears about potential pollution of local drinking water.

Activists also cite environmental destruction in countries like Argentina or Bolivia where lithium, an essential mineral for electric car batteries, is mined.

rc/lo (AFP, dpa)

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