Germany: Tesla protests end with arrests and dismantled camp

Brandenburg police say they have detained 23 activists and filed 76 criminal charges during days of protests against electric car maker Tesla.

Activists began protesting an expansion of a Tesla plant in the city of Grünheide on the outskirt of the German capital Berlin on Wednesday, loudly voicing concern over the environmental impact the expansion could have due to the need to clear a large swath of forest for construction.

Another point of contention is the factory’s massive use of public water supplies for production. Part of the Tesla facility, which employs roughly 12,000 people, is located adjacent to protected waters.

Tesla denies the plant expansion poses an environmental threat. Two years ago, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk derisively laughed off concerns about the company’s water use and its impact on the local water table, saying look around, it’s “everywhere.”

A protest camp featuring signs reading 'water is a human right' and 'climate justice is not a crime' in a forest in Grünheide, Germany
Protesters are concerned about Teslas massive water use as well as its plans to clearcut forest to expand its factoryImage: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

Police at Tesla protests: 18 gatherings, 23 arrests, 76 charges

A Brandenburg police statement announced that during 18 different gatherings between May 8 and May 12, police had written up 76 criminal charges, adding that 23 individuals had been temporarily detained.

The charges were related to violations to right of assembly laws, disruption of road traffic, resisting arrest, disturbance of the peace and property damage.

A planned demonstration on a highway overpass was preemptively banned over concerns for public safety.

On Sunday, five individuals were released from custody after being brought before a local magistrate.

A forest camp near the factory was also dismantled on Sunday.

Brandenburg police, who were assisted by state police units from across Germany, said 1,500 officers were on hand Saturday to deal with more than 1,000 protesters outside the factory.

Several arrests were made on Friday when police clashed with protesters attempting to storm the facility.

Police president: right to assembly ends when officers are attacked and property damaged

Police President Oliver Stepien on Sunday thanked officers who carried out what he called a “complicated and demanding operation.”

Stepien pointed out the need to protect the right to peaceful assembly but noted that this right ends when officers are attacked and property is willfully damaged.

He also wished speedy recoveries to the 27 officers injured during the course of the operation.

Organizers from the three groups heading the protests said they would attend a local board meeting scheduled to address expansion permitting next Thursday.

Asked what will happen if the expansion is allowed to move forward, organizers said, “we’ll be back.”

Taking on Tesla — Fight for the Forest

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js/lo (dpa)

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