Dusten Brown supporters gather at OK state capitol for protest

By Caitlin Alexander

OKLAHOMA CITY (KTUL/WCIV) -- Several dozen people gathered outside the Oklahoma state capitol Monday afternoon to support the biological father of a 3-year-old who is trying to keep her in the state and connected to her Indian heritage.

The group held signs, prayed, and played native music outside the south plaza of the Capitol building in Oklahoma City. It aimed to show the community and elected officials the ongoing relevance of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court says Brown cannot use the Indian Child Welfare Act to press his claims.

"We think that raising our native children in a native home is crucial and vital to the survival of our culture and identity," said rally attendee Chebon Kernell, who brought his 6-month-old son.

Kernell said he is Seminole and said he is standing with Cherokee Nation to support Dusten Brown's effort to keep his daughter.

The groups "Idle No More Central Oklahoma" and "Standing Our Ground for Veronica Brown" organized the rally.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's office said she supports both sides working cooperatively.

"As long as they are working to do that, Gov. Fallin will not expedite review of the extradition request for Mr. Brown," wrote Fallin's office in an email on Monday.

But Fallin has said it is in Veronica's best interests to have a meeting with the Capobiancos and she has urged Brown to make that happen, threatening to carry out a warrant signed by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley that would extradite Brown back to the Lowcountry to face charges filed in Charleston.

Over the weekend, people gathered in Tulsa to pray for both sides in the custody battle. One person said Veronica's adoptive parents, Mat and Melanie Capobianco, have been shown hostility during their time in Oklahoma.

Brown appeared in tribal and county court Friday with the Capobianco. The South Carolina couple continues to argue that a court in their home state has ruled Veronica return to their care.

Further hearings are expected within the next 18 days.

The Cherokee Nation has argued that Brown is still due his time in court. A judge has put a gag order on hearings, so both sides have stayed quiet on what happened in Friday's hearings. Court records show there is a mediation agreement for the two sides.

Brown posted bond last week for a custodial interference charge filed by the Charleston County Sheriff's Office after he failed to appear at a mandatory meeting in South Carolina.

He had reportedly been out of state at National Guard training.

The Capobiancos have been in Oklahoma for a week. They flew into Tulsa last Tuesday after a Monday press conference in which they described Brown's actions as kidnapping.

The Capobiancos and Browns have been in a long custody battle for Veronica, who was taken in by the Capobiancos at birth and cared for during the first 27 months of her life by the James Island couple.

Then a ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court changed that, sending the girl to Oklahoma with her biological father to live for the last 19 months.

After a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and subsequent ruling reversing its previous decision by the state Supreme Court, a Charleston family court finalized the adoption and ordered the beginning of the transition process for the girl who turns 4 next month.

But that transition plan never really started.

Brown and Veronica did not appear at the court-determined meeting place for the first four-hour meeting, which triggered a chain of events that led to a warrant for Brown's arrest, a hunt for him across three states, a governor's warrant, and a now the Capobiancos' appearance in Tulsa.

Brown as well as his new criminal attorney Clark Brewster have maintained that they will comply with court orders. Brewster said Tuesday, that there are currently appeals being considered by the South Carolina family courts, so the adoption was not final until those were resolved.

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