Climate protesters in Germany broke through police barricades on Friday amid clashes between activists and law enforcement. Protesters either reached (according to protesters) or near (according to local police) the grounds of a Tesla gigafactory in Grünheide, Germany, near Berlin. It’s part of a planned five-day demonstration ahead of a local government vote next week to determine whether Tesla’s plant can expand.

With cable marked with a flag videos on social media display activists, many of whom were camped in treehouses in nearby forest camps, running to a Tesla building at the site. In addition, the German newspaper Welt said at least one person involved was injured. Police reportedly used pepper spray and batons to try to disperse the crowd, and there were at least a few arrests.

This was said by a spokesman for one of the groups participating in the protests With cable that they broke through police barriers and invaded Tesla territory. “Eight hundred people have entered the premises of the gigafactory,” said Lucia Mende of Disrupt Tesla. However, the local police published on X (Musk’s social media platform) that activists only made it to a field facing the site. “We have been able to prevent them from entering so far,” they posted.

GRUNHEIDE, GERMANY - MAY 10: Police confront environmental activists in a forest near the Tesla Gigafactory electric car factory on May 10, 2024 near Grünheide, Germany.  Activists came from across Germany to demand a halt to Tesla's plans to expand the factory, which would involve cutting down at least 50 hectares of trees.  Some local residents also supported the protest, citing stress on local groundwater supplies from the factory.  (Photo: Axel Schmidt/Getty Images)

Axel Schmidt via Getty Images

At least at first glance, it’s easy to wonder why activists are putting so much energy into fighting Tesla. After all, despite Musk’s increasingly nonsensical right-wing conspiracy-mongering and Nazi service to X, other automakers pushing gas-guzzling cars seem like more appropriate targets (not to mention the big-spending fossil fuel companies money for disinformation against climate reforms ). However, several factors make the issues at the heart of the protests less straightforward.

A (non-binding) vote in February showed the residents of Grünheide opposed the expansion by a ratio of almost two to one. If for no other reason, the prospect of local government rejecting the overwhelming will of the voters in the name of capitalism is enough to raise the eyebrows of anyone opposed to minority rule.

With cable notes the area is also one of the most water-scarce in Germany, and residents worry that the gigafactory will deplete the resource, leaving much less for the people who live there. The plant may also pollute local water sources.

These fears appear to be well-founded: the plant is licensed to use 1.4 million cubic meters of water per year and separate With cable report of Tuesday noted that this is enough to supply a large city. As for pollution concerns, Tesla was fined in 2019 by the EPA for several hazardous waste violations at a California factory. The company paid a total of $31,000 to settle. (Tesla had a market cap of almost $76 billion in 2019.)

But some of the protesting groups have concerns that go far beyond these more immediate issues affecting local residents, instead addressing the entire electric vehicle movement. “Companies like Tesla are there to save the auto industry, they’re not there to save the climate,” said Esther Cam, spokeswoman for Turn Off the Tap on Tesla With cable.

Another activist who just gave With cable the name Mara describes the factory as a result of “green capitalism”. She sees the EV movement as little more than profit-driven theatrics. “It’s completely contrived by such companies to have more growth, even during an environmental crisis,” she said.

I wouldn’t exactly say that flipping the bird to the EV movement is a “workable” solution to the very real and pressing climate crisis. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, the world must act quickly to stave off the most devastating effects of climate change, and the scientific consensus is that the planned shift to electric cars will have to play a central role.

Tesla reportedly told its factory employees to work from home on Friday, closing the plants for the planned protests. As for Friday’s protests, Welt reports that the situation has calmed down by the afternoon – at least for now.