Violent clashes erupt near Berlin as left-wing rioters confront police at Tesla Gigafactory

Hundreds of activists clash with riot police near Berlin Tesla plant, attempting to storm site in protest over planned deforestation.

Violent clashes erupt near Berlin as left-wing rioters confront police at Tesla Gigafactory
Deutsche Welle/Getty Images
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Violent confrontations erupted on Thursday between far-left activists and police near Tesla's gigafactory on the outskirts of Berlin, as protesters attempted to storm the site to demonstrate against the electric carmaker's planned expansion into a nearby forest.

Hundreds of black-clad protesters, whose uniform style identified them as far-left anarchists in "black bloc" attire, carried banners reading "Disrupt Capitalism, Create Future," and chanted anti-Elon Musk slogans. The unruly mob faced off against German riot police equipped with batons and tear gas. Footage showed a crush of demonstrators charging across a field toward officers, who responded forcefully by deploying tear gas and striking protesters to beat back the advance, the Daily Mail reports.

Several bloody clashes ensued, with activists seen being dragged away and arrested as they chanted slogans like "Elon Musk is not welcome here." The protests, organized by a coalition of anti-capitalist groups including Disrupt, have drawn participants from across Germany angered by Tesla's plans to clear 50 hectares of woodland to enable an expansion that could see production rise to one million vehicles per year.

Musk responded to the protests on Twitter, claiming that it's "National Protest Week" in Germany, and corrected initial claims that protesters had broken through the barriers protecting the facility. 

Activists accuse the company of being associated with "labor accidents, water scarcity, deforestation, environmental pollution and exploitation" in Berlin and globally. Tesla has not commented on this week's unrest, though CEO Elon Musk previously dismissed an arson attack on the plant in March as "extremely dumb."

The company closed the factory for four days starting Wednesday, including a scheduled one-day production halt on Thursday when the clashes occurred. Employees were instructed to work from home as the protests erupted.

Tesla's ambitions to expand the German site have met fierce opposition from far-left activist groups and a number of locals, including a February referendum where citizens voted against clearing trees for construction. Environmentalists, who seemed to have no issue with the industrial activities of Volkswagen and other car manufacturers in Germany, warn the plans would dangerously deplete groundwater reserves in the region.

Noting that his company is being singled out for attacks, Musk stated on X, "Something super weird is going on, as Tesla was the *only* company attacked!" 

He also asked: "Any idea who is orchestrating and funding this?"

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  • By David Menzies

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