Professor who compared coronavirus restrictions to slavery found dead in North Carolina home


by Nelson Oliviera, New York Daily News:

An embattled North Carolina professor who sparked furious backlash over a series of controversial tweets in recent months, including one comparing coronavirus restrictions to living in a “slave state,” was found dead Thursday.

Police discovered the body of Mike Adams, a tenured sociology and criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, while performing a wellness check at his home. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office has not released any details, but an investigation is underway, local news outlets reported.

Adams’ provocative and sometimes-offensive remarks had angered many UNCW students and members of the community for more than a decade, but he made national headlines this year over numerous social media posts about the COVID-19 pandemic and anti-racism protests.

In a May 29 tweet, he compared Gov. Roy Cooper’s social distancing guidelines to slavery.

“This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top,” Adams wrote. “I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!”

The 55-year-old professor, who was white, had also attacked anti-racism rioters earlier that day.

“Rioters don’t care about social issues,” he wrote. “They are thugs looking for an opportunity to break the law with impunity.”

A day earlier, Adams criticized the state’s decision to close universities to contain the spread of coronavirus, suggesting it should shut down “non essential majors” like women’s studies, instead.

His words prompted widespread outrage, with tens of thousands of people signing multiple online petitions that called for his firing.

One of them claimed Adams had “a long history of espousing racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and abusive rhetoric.” In 2016, he wrote an article outing a student’s sexual orientation, using her full name and mocking her religion, according to the petition.

Adams, who was also a columnist for at least two conservative websites, was set to retire early on Aug. 1 after reaching a settlement with UNCW for more than $500,000 over lost salary and retirement benefits.

The university confirmed his death in a notice to students on Thursday.

“It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology,” the statement reads. “Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts.”

The UNCW chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom called him a “free speech warrior” who kept “left-wing universities” in check throughout his career.

“But Mike Adams was more than just his efforts to protect fundamental rights which our founders enshrined at this nation’s birth,” the group wrote, adding that he was “charming and kind” and someone who could be relied upon in “trying circumstances and desperate times.”

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