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Hundreds take to the streets in Gruenheide, Germany, protesting against Elon Musk’s Tesla due to alleged illegal construction and concerns about the environmental impact of lithium mining

Activists protest against the expansion of the Tesla Gigafactory in Grueneheide near Berlin, Germany

Approximately 800 anti-capitalist protestors set up camp outside Tesla’s Gigafactory in Grueneheide, Germany, on Friday, aiming to stop the expansion project and address its concerning environmental repercussions. The controversial expansion has faced backlash, with Ole Becker, a representative of the protest’s organizing body Disrupt, criticizing the move. In a statement posted on the coalition’s website, Becker emphasized, “ The fight against this car factory is a fight against every car factory.” According to Disrupt’s press release, the Gigafactory’s construction is allegedly illegal, and they contend that its expansion would cause damage to the surrounding forests. In the recent survey covered by Wired, more than 60% of the total population expressed their opposition to the proposed 50-hectare expansion.

A group of protestors have been camping in the woods ever since. Reuters reported that during the protest, activists highighted the environmental impact of lithium mining, particularly concerning its role in producing electric car batteries. They emphasized the ecological harm caused by lithium extraction, which releases toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the environment, affecting air, water, and soil worldwide. The group says the expansion would require clearing swathes of the nearby forests and would further stain local water supply. They added, “every tree felled for Tesla is one too many, and every litre of water taken from the ground is wasted.” On Friday, protestors gathered from across Germany for an organized push against the facility, encountering significant resistance from law enforcement. An online video circulated showing the tumultuous scenes of protestors engaging in clashes with law enforcement as they tried to approach the factory. Musk addressed the video, confirming that the security perimeter of the facility remained secure.

“Protestors did not manage to break through the fenceline. There are still two intact fence lines all around (the factory),” he stated. He did not stop there, though. “Note, this is ‘National Protest Week’ in Germany, so there are a lot of protests for many different reasons.” Musk seemed unable to comprehend why environmetalists would protest against the production of his lithium-reliant electric cars. He expressed confusion about environmentalists specially targeting Tesla, remarking, “Something super weird going on, as Tesla was the *only* car company attacked.” Musk openly questioned the perceived leniency of the police, asking, “ Why do the police let the left-wing protestors pff so easily?” Becker recounted to CNN his firsthand experience of police brutality during the protest, with a video on X showing officers using pepper spray on fleeing protesters. To restore order, dozens of protestors were arrested. The police reported that hundreds were injured during the demonstration. Police officials said in a press release Friday that, “people from the previous protest march ran through the forest towards the Tesla company premises. As they were in the immediate vicinity of the Deutsche Bahn railroad tracks at the time and partially entered them, rail traffic between Erkner and Fürstenwalde had to be temporarily stopped.”

Tesla decided to shut the factory on Friday, barring entry to all employees, in anticipation of large crowd gathering outside to protest against the planned expansion. Police in Brandenburg said Wednesday, “Disruptive protests as well as criminal acts typical of this kind of gathering cannot be ruled out. Consequently, the police are prepared for both a peaceful and non-peaceful outcome. If crimes are committed, the police will intervene resolutely.”

Mohd Aman
I'm Aman, a research scholar with IIT Kanpur's Energy Storage group studying layered electrode materials for supercapacitors. I love EVs too. EV enthusiasts, researchers, and curious consumers will find something interesting here. I hope you enjoy my posts, and please leave comments or connect me on LinkedIn with any queries or recommendations.

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