'Baby Veronica' Protesters Assemble In Downtown Tulsa


Saturday, August 17th 2013, 4:35 pm
By: News On 6


More than two dozen supporters of Dusten Brown showed up at a State of Oklahoma building in downtown Tulsa Saturday afternoon.

Veronica, 3, is at the center of a custody battle between Brown, her biological father, and Matt and Melanie Capobianco of South Carolina, her adoptive parents.

The group carried signs and expressed their hopes that the courts will keep Veronica with Brown, who is a Cherokee Nation citizen. They say they're trying to support Veronica's best interests.

"This is about what's going to make her happy and not suffer and have heartache," said Cassy Shufeldt, a demonstrator who said she's friends with the Brown family.

One day after Veronica's biological father and adoptive parents went to court in Tahlequah, these supporters of Dusten Brown say they aren't dropping their signs anytime soon.

They're hoping to get more support by coming to a central location in Green Country, and they're planning an even bigger rally at the State Capitol on Monday.

"That's what we're here for is to speak out for her, let everybody know that this is not right, they need to look at the whole picture, not just little bits and pieces of it," said demonstrator Shawn Perez.

8/17/2013 Related Story: 'Baby Veronica' Hearings Take Place In Oklahoma; Mediation Agreement Filed

The protest came on the heels of a day of hearings in Tahlequah. Both hearings -- one in county district court, and the other, in Cherokee Nation tribal court -- were closed to the media. The Cherokee County judge issued a gag order, and the records from the tribal hearing are sealed.

Online court records indicate a mediation agreement was filed during the county court case, but neither side is discussing details.

"I think it's really important to actually understand what's taking place and try to step back from your emotions and look at it from a legal standpoint on one hand, and on the other hand I'm a grandmother it could be my child just as easily as it could be anyone else's," said Cherae Stone, protestor.

The Capobiancos were present at Veronica's birth and raised her for more than two years. The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered them to turn her over to Brown in January 2011, citing the Indian Child Welfare Act. In June, after the Capobiancos appealed, the U.S. Supreme Court said Brown was not entitled to custody of the child based on ICWA.

Transfer of custody to the Capobiancos was to happen last week, but Veronica remains in Oklahoma and Brown faces felony custodial interference charges in South Carolina.