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Tesla’s expansion plans in Germany prompt clash between protesters, police – UPI.com

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1 of 2 | Police officers restrain environmental activists during a protest against Tesla’s plans to extend its Gigafactory plant in Gruenheide, near Berlin, Germany, on Friday. Photo by Filip Singer/EPA-EFE

May 10 (UPI) — Climate activists protesting the expansion Tesla’s Brandenburg factory in Germany clashed with police after some attempted to storm the factory grounds on Friday.

Disrupt, a coalition of self-declared anti-capitalist groups, said in a statement on its website that about 800 activists showed up at the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory on Friday as part of the Disrupt Tesla Action Days.

The group said the intention of the demonstration was “not to stop production for a weekend, but rather to prevent the factory expansion and initiate a traffic turnaround.”

Brandenburg police in a release said some protesters attempted to break into the facility.

“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,” the statement read.

Officers said they prevented the group from entering the Tesla grounds and arrested 16 people. Several people were injured, including 21 police officers.

Disrupt spokesperson Ole Becker told CNN the “unfortunate” police violence marred an otherwise good day for the activists.

“I saw a lot of injured people … I have seen things today which I haven’t seen for many years,” Becker said.

Activists on Monday began setting up camp near the grounds of the Brandenburg plant, with participation growing up to its peak on Thursday, according to police.

Tesla shut down the factory Friday in anticipation of the protests. André Thierig, a senior manufacturing director, posted on X Tuesday that the factory would take a “one-day planned production shutdown.”

Climate protesters opposed Tesla’s expansion plans, which involve clearing about 250 acres of forest near a nature conservation area.

The plan includes a rail freight depot and storage facilities that would help Tesla’s only European factory avoid reliance on third-party logistics and avoid production delays due to parts shortages.

Activists argued the expansion would also disrupt the local water supply.

Residents of the Grünheide municipality of Brandenburg in February voted down the proposed factory expansion, but because the vote was non-binding, Tesla and local officials pushed ahead with the project.

“The Gründheiders see how their vote is being circumvented and answered with deceptive packages,” Disrupt spokesperson Lucia Mende said in a statement. “At the same time, a region is sold out to an openly right-wing entrepreneur. Instead of courting Elon Musk, politicians should implement democratic votes and referendums.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has lashed out at protesters against his Brandenburg factory in the past. In a March post on X, he called activists “either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth” or “puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals.”

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