Elon Musk escalated his confrontation with California, reopening the Tesla car factory in Fremont in defiance of local officials and saying he is ready to be arrested for it, after critics called him callous and even racist.
Having complained over the weekend about being the only carmaker in the US still shuttered by the Covid-19 lockdown, Musk announced on Monday that Tesla is restarting production “against Alameda County rules.”
I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
The state has approved the factory to reopen, he explained, but an “unelected county official illegally overrode” that decision.
Yes, California approved, but an unelected county official illegally overrode. Also, all other auto companies in US are approved to resume. Only Tesla has been singled out. This is super messed up!
Speaking at a press conference in Sacramento, Governor Gavin Newsom said he expected the Tesla plant to reopen next week, and that he will speak with both local officials in Alameda County and Tesla management about the situation.
While Newsom did not say whose side in the dispute he would take, Musk quickly tweeted “Thank you governor” when a video of Newsom’s remarks was posted online.
Thank you Governor Newsom!
Monday’s reopening is the latest move in the ongoing drama between Musk and California. Tesla sued the county on Sunday, asking for an injunction against the local officials, saying in a tweet that they were acting “contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms and just plain common sense!”
Tesla’s facility in the neighboring San Joaquin County was open and working normally, the company’s lawyers said.
The South African-born businessman has raged for days over the fact that Tesla – the only US manufacturer of exclusively electric cars – was forced to stay shut while other carmakers were allowed to operate. He also threatened to move his business elsewhere if California continued to obstruct Tesla’s operations.
While people in the states he mentioned as possible destinations seemed pleased – Texas Governor Greg Abbott, for example, welcomed the idea – more than a few high-profile Californians proceeded to denounce Musk.
State assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, for instance, tweeted obscenities at Musk on Saturday and complained Tesla is a “company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union busting & bullies public servants.”
She also implied Musk was racist for wanting the lockdown lifted, because Covid-19 deaths in California are “disproportionately Latino.”
And, the deaths from Covid-19 in California are disproportionately Latino. Our communities have been the hardest hit. By far. Maybe that’s why we take the public health officials’ warning and directions so seriously.
Another outspoken critic of Musk on Twitter has been former Clinton administration official Robert Reich, who accused the tech innovator of being a “callous billionaire with little regard for workers” who valued his “own profit over people’s lives during a pandemic.”
We don’t need callous billionaires with little regard for workers telling us what to do right now. Don’t let them put their own profit over people’s lives during a pandemic. https://t.co/F1MhMs3mji
He later complained when Musk blocked him.
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