By Matthew Ward
(Reuters) - Despite political differences with the conservative Tea Party movement, anti-Wall Street protesters in Richmond, Virginia, have come out in support of the local Tea Party group against "unfair" treatment from the city.
After the city accused the Richmond Tea Party of being overdue on tax filings, Occupy Richmond issued a statement saying "it would not surprise us" if the move was "retaliation" for the Tea Party's criticism of Mayor Dwight Jones.
The Tea Party had previously charged Jones with applying city ordinances unequally to the benefit of Occupy Richmond in respect to its encampment in a downtown plaza.
The city eventually took action against Occupy Richmond, which is critical of alleged unfairness in the U.S. economic system, and earlier this week three Occupy members were reportedly ordered to pay fines after convictions on trespassing charges following an October police raid of the encampment.
"The Tea Party and Occupy movements disagree on many, many issues," Occupy Richmond's Thursday statement said. "This should not stop all Americans from proudly standing together against government abuses."
The statement ultimately called on the city to drop the Tea Party audit and refund any money the group has paid to secure "free speech and assembly privileges."
Richmond Tea Party spokeswoman Colleen Owens said on Friday that the group "never really had any kind of beef with the Occupy people."
"I'm glad the Occupy group agrees with us," she said. "We just think it's very coincidental that they (the city) would issue audits, and we also believe that we filed everything that was required of us and never owed any taxes."
Mayor Jones had released a statement this week saying a letter sent to the Richmond Tea Party about overdue tax filings was "routine."
He said over 300 letters have been sent to entities either owing taxes or with outstanding tax filings after the city's finance department, by an "automated financial system," compiled a list of over 700 "potentially non-compliant accounts."
The Richmond "Occupy" group is one of many that appeared around the country in recent months after Occupy Wall Street protesters set up camp in New York.
There is some overlap between Occupy protesters and the Tea Party -- a conservative political movement that has generally backed Republican office seekers -- on issues like opposition to bank bailouts, but the groups tend to diverge sharply on questions like the best economic system for the country.
(Editing by Jerry Norton)