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Cleveland Dodd's family speaks out on the eve of his funeral

Giovanni Torre -

Indigenous teenager Cleveland Dodd, who died in custody in Western Australia's notorious Unit 18, will be laid to rest in Meekatharra on Friday.

Cleveland was 16 years old and on remand when he was found unresponsive in his cell on 12 October, dying in hospital seven days later.

Investigations to date have uncovered a series of problems at the Unit at the time Cleveland fatally self-harmed, including the apparent "pre-filling" of reports, delays in responding to his cries for help, and at least one senior guard being asleep at the time.

Cleveland's family issued a statement on Thursday, renewing their call for justice and reform to put an end to deaths in custody:

"Our young one, a child of the sunrise, of sweeping deserts and untampered earth, is to be made one with the earth again tomorrow, his spirit to ancestors and kin.

We grieve sorrow that our boy should leave us so soon, before this child's full bloom.

We thank before all others, two strong and kind souls who have been with us since the first day of cruel injustice - Gerry Georgatos and Aunty Megan Krakouer - they are friends in even the strongest winds.

Our boy is to be layed in earth Meekatharra drawn. But as we do so, we cannot do so quietly. Those who cruelly stole his mortal living are not yet held to account. More than 50 days have passed since our child was betrayed by people who cruelled the life out of his body.

Racism must not protect wrongdoers. How is it those who fabricated welfare checks have not been charged? How is it those who locked him in a cell endlessly for months and in which his eyes last sight was, those who cruelled hopeless fate have not been charged? We will fight for the truth and not let us be denied truth because we are what you call us, "Black".

We want the people who designed and approved the inhumane Unit 18, named and brought to account, charged. It is an evil place where hopelessness destroys mortal life. We want them charged. As we do guards who ticked off welfare checks at the beginning of their shifts and not as they happened. They fated our child's death in that dank, dark dungeon. The nation is here in Meekatharra, watching, and we ask its media, that they hear us, listen and in fact, help. The first step is to broadcast this statement, to the nation."

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