May 10 marked the date for the annual Volkswagen Group shareholders meeting, held in Berlin. An official press release from the automaker talks about increasing dividends and board member changes, but it's the aggressive actions of protesters outside and inside the venue that captured global headlines. And yes, that includes someone throwing cake at VW Group Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch.
Actually, Automotive News Europe states 80-year-old Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of Porsche SE, was the intended target. The video at the top of this article doesn't show the moment of impact, but large chunks are seen hurling toward Poetsch during his speech. Photos show a mess of icing on the front of the large table near Porsche's seat. Nobody was struck in the incident, and as you can imagine, security swiftly removed protesters from the building.
The cake-tosser wasn't the only prominent protester in Berlin for the meeting, nor was this the only incident. The video shows several people being escorted outside. One woman reportedly removed her top to reveal the words dirty money on her back during a speech by VW Group CEO Oliver Blume. Meanwhile on the outside, the Associated Press reports climate protesters attempted to glue themselves to the ground, though that effort was thwarted by police. At this time, it's unclear if the protesters are facing charges, or what those charges might be. Approximately 10 people were involved.
Protesters were calling out alleged labor issues relating to VW's plant in Xinjiang, China. A UN Report from August 2022 expressed deep concern over possible human rights violations, including forced labor, in the region. China has refuted the UN Report, and Volkswagen found no evidence of forced labor at its Xinjiang plant during an inspection in February, according to Reuters.
This isn't the first such incident against automakers in recent months. Several people glued themselves to Ferraris at the 2022 Paris Motor Show in October to protest climate change. In November, a BMW M1 Art Car painted by Andy Warhol was doused in flour, also in protest of alleged inaction over climate change.
Sources: Automotive News Europe, Reuters, Associated Press