OAKLAND -- Occupy Oakland protesters got a taste of their own medicine Monday.
Occupiers marched from a courthouse to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza for a noon rally only to find about 40 people protesting them.
The group, calling itself Stand for Oakland, was organized by several neighborhood leaders to show public opposition to Occupy Oakland's recent costly demonstrations and its focus on Oakland police, rather than the travails of the poor and middle class.
"I think this will make them see that the citizens are concerned and that the citizens are tired of the actions that they are taking," said Angela Haller, a Neighborhood Watch leader who helped organize the rally.
Among those participating in Stand for Oakland was Councilwoman Desley Brooks, several neighborhood leaders, developer Phil Tagami and Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce official Paul Junge.
They were outnumbered in the plaza by about 150 Occupy supporters, who had scheduled their own rally to decry police violence. Members of the dueling rallies intermingled, but the Occupiers' only skirmish was with police.
After ordering Occupy supporters several times to stop using their amplified sound system, about a dozen police in riot gear entered the plaza. Officers stood nose-to-nose with protesters, confiscating two speakers and an amplifier, but failing to take all of the equipment, as Occupiers -- chanting "Whose equipment? Our equipment" -- managed to hold onto a speaker and an extension cord.
"This is what violence is," Occupy supporter Shake Anderson said immediately after police left the center of the plaza. "When someone comes and takes your property, that's called violence. We're seeing violence and theft by the Oakland Police Department."
Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said officers were ordered to remove the equipment for which protesters had no permit. The city had received noise complaints from businesses. Police had not previously confiscated Occupy's speaker system at the plaza, she said, because officers were either largely outnumbered by protesters or the rallies were on a weekend when most businesses near City Hall are closed.
Stand for Oakland members weren't sympathetic to Occupy's loss. "They brought it upon themselves," said Ken Siller, an Oakland resident participating in the Stand for Oakland rally. "The police clearly told them they had to turn off the sound system. They chose not to."
Nancy Sidebotham, a community policing volunteer who helped organized Stand for Oakland, said she expected the group to hold more rallies in the coming weeks.
"This is the community coming together to say we're tired of what's happening in Oakland," she said. "We're tired of the trashing and the vandalism."
Occupy supporter Jaime Omar Yassin dismissed the group as a tool of city leaders. "It's obviously generated by (Mayor Jean) Quan and the City Council to make it seem like they have the city's support," he said.
Monday was a busy day for Occupy Oakland supporters, about 30 of whom began protesting in front of Wiley Manuel Courthouse as nearly a dozen Occupiers were charged with blocking a sidewalk during a Jan. 4 rally.
The defendants are asking a judge to dismiss the misdemeanor charges, while their attorney, John Viola, accused authorities of filing the charges only to disrupt the protesters' cause.
"These charges should have never been filed, the case should have been dropped," he said.
After the dueling rallies at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Occupy supporters marched back to the courthouse for another hearing, disrupting traffic on Broadway, 8th Street and Washington Street. A pretrial hearing for an Occupy supporter charged with assaulting a police officer had been scheduled for that afternoon but was postponed.
Occupy members said it was important for them to continue appearing at one another's court hearings. "We want people to know that we take care of each other," said Berkeley resident Lila Robinwood. "That if we get arrested, we will defend each other and we're not going to let it tear us apart."