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Tesla shorts threaten to cause car collision to discredit Tesla; restraining order granted

Earlier this week a Model 3 was spotted filming a self-driving demo ahead of Tesla’s autonomy investor event on Monday.  Curiously, we heard about this through a TSLA short-seller on twitter.  As it turns out, discussion following this tweet in the TSLA short community ended up focusing on the possibility of intentionally causing collisions in order to discredit Tesla ahead of the event.

But that’s not all.  According to a legal filing by Tesla in Alameda county courthouse yesterday, the individual behind the short-seller’s twitter account has engaged in a pattern of harassment and stalking of Tesla property and employees and Tesla has officially sought and been granted a temporary restraining order against him.

The relevant twitter account is allegedly run by a man who lives in Fremont, whose brother works for VW’s advanced technology research center in Palo Alto according to LinkedIn.  The brother is apparently also associated with the Tesla short-seller community and twitter accounts related to the alleged harasser.  While the names of these individuals are public record and are available in the filing, we have declined to name them in this article.

The filing alleges a pattern of obsessive behavior towards Tesla by one of the brothers in particular – the one who doesn’t work for VW.

On multiple occasions, Tesla has found cameras on or pointed at their property which turned out to be owned by the target of the restraining order.  This was included in the filing to establish a pattern of stalking behavior.

At one point, the target of the restraining order was found trespassing on Tesla property and allegedly struck a Tesla employee with his car, a white Acura, while driving away.  The employee, who suffered “minor injuries,” was able to capture a photo of the driver, who did not stop after striking the employee.  Fremont police were called and later attempted to deliver a warning to the driver not to trespass further on Tesla property.

The most recent incident was on April 16th.  While three Tesla employees were filming a demo on public roads, the target of the order witnessed the demo being filmed and followed them.  During the drive, the crew of Tesla employees claim to have witnessed erratic and dangerous driving behavior from a white Acura, which at one point triggered the Tesla’s side collision avoidance system.  The Tesla crew were concerned enough that they photographed the Acura and called the police despite having no prior knowledge of the pattern of behavior towards Tesla.

Later, tweets from other TSLA shorts were found, responding to the brothers’ twitter account, encouraging the driver to “drive along with it and create random events for it to react to” and “brake in front of the car, swerve into its lane, etc.”

The filing includes declarations from multiple Tesla employees, including Tesla’s global security director and the three employees who were in the car filming the autopilot demo earlier this week.

All of this information is alleged by Tesla in the filing, and nobody has been found guilty of any crimes (nor are criminal charges the point of the filing).  But Tesla was granted this temporary restraining order based on a “credible threat of violence or stalking.”  It requires that the target of the order stay 100 yards away from the Tesla factory and Tesla headquarters, and forbids him from following or contacting Tesla employees or driving near any Tesla vehicle with manufacturer plates, through May 7th.  Tesla originally requested the order only for April 22nd, the day of Tesla’s autonomy investor event.

In response to this filing, the relevant short-seller twitter account tweeted earlier today:

I will not rest. This is my promise.

Tesla is a zero. @elonmusk will go to prison.

An apocalyptic image accompanies the tweet.

In response to this tweet, Tesla shorts called for “others in the Fremont area to step up for our fallen comrade” and drive around near the Tesla Factory on Monday, seemingly seeking to interfere with Tesla’s event.

Update: Tesla CEO Elon Musk has responded to the situation on twitter, asking VW “what’s going on?” due to the brother’s association with VW’s Palo Alto research lab.

Electrek’s Take

Look.  It’s reasonable for there to be multiple opinions about Tesla and their mission.  Heck, one person might hold multiple or complex opinions about Tesla all on their own.  Maybe someone loves the cars but not the company, maybe someone loves the company and everything about it, maybe someone doesn’t like the cars at all (though those people probably haven’t driven one…) or the company or certain employees or directors, maybe somebody likes the mission but is annoyed by a recent uptick in slips in customer service quality (*cough*).

But it is not reasonable to attempt to cause car collisions because you have an apocalyptic vision of yourself winning a crusade against a businessman you don’t like.

It’s been clear for quite some time that there are a lot of people and organizations who would like to see Tesla fail.  This resistance to EVs was expected from the beginning – the richest and most powerful industry in the world stands to lose out significantly if electric cars supplant gasoline-powered cars.  This leads to a lot of propaganda, political posturing and what-have-you.  We’ve covered a lot of this extensively.

And while that propaganda and lobbying does put lives at risk, because it works to continue the status quo of pollution which kills millions of people worldwide per year, it’s another thing entirely to personally take so much issue with the work of a company that you put your safety and the safety of three video producers – and any number of other cars on the highway – at risk because of a personal mission.

If these allegations are true, this is way, way, WAY beyond the pale.

It’s time for everyone to cool off a little bit here.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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