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An eerie, abandoned house stands alone under a twilight sky, symbolizing the deep-rooted issue of racial discrimination in housing. Its neglected appearance and desolate surroundings reflect the profound impact of injustice on communities.
The stark emptiness of racial injustice in housing

By Darius Spearman (africanelements)

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David Merryman’s indictment unveils a disturbing pattern of racial harassment and systematic government fraud.

HAMPTON, VA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently indicted David Merryman, a 58-year-old landlord in Hampton, on multiple counts, including harassment of African American tenants and defrauding both tenants and the government. Merryman, who owns over 60 properties, faces severe allegations that highlight deep-seated issues in housing discrimination (13News Now).

DOJ’s Charges and Expert Insights

The DOJ charged Merryman with ten counts of wire fraud, four counts of interfering with housing rights, and several other serious offenses. Notably, the indictment accuses him of using racist slurs and making threats against tenants. Dr. Johnathan H. Marks, a civil rights attorney, commented on the case:

“The charges against Merryman are deeply troubling and reflect a broader issue of systemic racism in housing. It’s imperative that we address these injustices head-on to ensure fair housing for all,” said Dr. Marks (St. Louis Argus).

Past Legal Troubles

Merryman’s history with the law includes a May 2022 arrest for non-payment to his employees and a 2021 lawsuit for housing discrimination. These incidents suggest a longstanding pattern of unethical conduct. Dr. Marks further states:

“Merryman’s previous legal issues indicate a disturbing trend. These aren’t isolated incidents but part of a larger, more systemic problem,” added Dr. Marks (St. Louis Argus).

Community Impact

The indictment of David Merryman not only highlights legal violations but also casts a significant shadow over the broader community in Hampton and Newport News. The allegations against Merryman represent a distressing example of deeply rooted racial biases and fraudulent practices in the local housing market.

Psychological and Social Toll on Tenants

Merryman’s alleged use of racist slurs and threats profoundly impacts the mental health of the victims. Dr. Angela Foster, a psychologist specializing in racial trauma, emphasizes the severe psychological effects:

“The trauma inflicted by racial harassment in one’s living environment can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and a sense of helplessness. It’s crucial to recognize and address these psychological impacts on the victims,” Dr. Foster explains (St. Louis Argus).

The case also erodes trust within the community. When landlords, who are in positions of power, engage in discriminatory and fraudulent practices, it undermines the sense of security and belonging among community members, particularly those belonging to minority groups. Community leader and activist Jameson Clark comments:

“Such actions by landlords damage the fabric of our community. Rebuilding trust and ensuring accountability is essential,” states Clark (St. Louis Argus).

Economic Implications

Economically, the allegations of defrauding government programs reveal a misuse of public funds, which strains public resources and deprives legitimate beneficiaries. Economic analyst Laura Chen notes:

“Fraudulent activities in housing assistance programs harm direct victims and have wider economic repercussions,” Chen remarks (13News Now).

Merryman’s case highlights the need for stronger oversight of landlords and better protection for tenants against racial discrimination and fraud. Legal expert Dr. Marks adds:

“This case should prompt a reevaluation of our housing laws to better safeguard tenant rights and prevent similar abuses,” Dr. Marks suggests (St. Louis Argus).


The indictment of David Merryman is a stark reminder of the work still needed to combat discrimination and fraud in housing. As the legal process unfolds, this case will likely continue to shed light on critical issues within our society.

About the author:

Darius Spearman is a professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at