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Protesters attempt to storm Tesla's factory near Berlin

Zac Crellin
May 10, 2024

Environmentalists have long criticized Tesla for clearing forest in order to build its electric car factory outside Berlin. A police spokesperson said the situation remained "dynamic."

Protesters running past a police officer
Hundreds of people stormed the Tesla Gigafactory in Grünheide outside BerlinImage: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

Multiple people have been arrested after activists attempted to break into Tesla's electric car factory outside Berlin on Friday, according to police. 

Regional broadcaster RBB reported that several hundred people ran toward the Tesla facility, with many people wearing masks and dressed in black.

"We are here today to draw attention to the Tesla factory in Grünheide for the environmental destruction here in Grünheide," said Ole Becker, a spokesperson for the Disrupt Tesla alliance.

"But also for the environmental destruction in countries like Argentina or Bolivia, where lithium is mined that is needed for these batteries and that causes terrible environmental destruction for the people there, but also for the environment."

Hundreds of protesters running through a field
Activists were able to push past the outer fence of the factoryImage: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

The protesters were reportedly able to overcome the outer fence of the Tesla Gigafactory but were stopped by police shortly after.

Protesters also disrupted operations at a nearby airfield in Neuhardenberg where unsold Tesla vehicles are being stored, while environmental group Robin Wood staged a protest outside a Tesla dealership in Berlin.

At least one protester and three officers were injured, according to authorities.

The situation remains "dynamic," a police spokesperson told the German news agency dpa.

Protesters running past trees
Police and protesters faced off in the forest near GrünheideImage: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images

Police arrest protesters

Police responded to the disruption with a large contingent off officers. They arrested a number of people at two of the protest sites.

Brandenburg Police deployed water cannons, which were not used, as well as an armored vehicle.

"There are registered assemblies. We protect the freedom of assembly, of course," a spokesperson said.

"But we are also responsible for public order and safety. That means we will also intervene when necessary. "

Activists plan days of action

On Friday afternoon, many of the protesters returned to their campsite on a nearby country road.

The activists have called for days of action against Tesla and its facilities in the German state of Brandenburg.

Police carrying off a protester near Berlin
Police also arrested several people at the Neuhardenberg Airfield where Tesla vehicles are storedImage: Patrick Pleul/dpa/picture alliance

"We will bring attention to the Tesla factory in a variety of ways to fight for a mobility transition for everyone," Becker said.

"We need mobility. Everyone needs mobility. We need to get from A to B. And that's why we want to fight for a genuine social mobility transition and not for a car-centered way of doing things — we want a public transport that is free and that everyone can use. And there will be many different events to achieve this."

Environmentalists have long protested against Tesla's factory in Grünheide because forest was cleared in order to build it.

Now, the company plans to expand the facility which would require more woodlands to be cleared.

Police and protesters facing off near the Tesla factory
Protesters have set up camp near the Tesla factoryImage: Michael Ukas/tnn/dpa/picture alliance

The far-left Volcano Group claimed to have sabotaged the factory by cutting the power supply in March.

Meanwhile, climate protesters have set up their own tree house camp in the forest that is scheduled to be cleared to make way for the factory expansion.

This article draws on information from the DPA and Reuters news agencies.

Edited by Louis Oelofse

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