North Carolina professor Mike Adams found dead weeks after resigning amid backlash over 'slave state' tweets
A professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, who had recently announced his early retirement amid backlash over his controversial social media comments, was found dead in his home on Thursday, July 23. Police spokesperson, Lt. Jerry Brewer, said that the tenured criminology professor, 55-year-old Mike Adams, was found dead at his home when New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a welfare check at around 2 pm, according to CNN. An investigation into the circumstance of his death is currently ongoing.
Adams, in his recent tweets, had called North Carolina's state governor Roy Cooper "Massa Cooper" and had compared living under coronavirus restrictions to living in a "slave state," drawing a heavy backlash. The 55-year-old later announced that he was retiring early, on August 1, and had recently reached a $504,702 settlement with the university for lost salary and lost retirement benefits. The criminology professor, in 2016, had also posted an article about a student activist under the title "A 'Queer Muslim' Jihad."
Adams, on May 28, had tweeted that universities should be allowed to stay open while shutting down “non-essential majors. Like Women’s Studies.” Hours later he tweeted another offensive tweet, writing: "This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. 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 professor had also commented on people protesting after George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis by tweeting that rioters were “thugs looking for an opportunity to break the law with impunity.”
The University of North Carolina had denounced Adams' tweet, calling them "vile", and Chancellor Jose Sartarelli released a statement on the issue, saying that the best way to resolve the controversy “quickly, with certainty, and in the most fiscally responsible way” was to negotiate a settlement for $504,702.76, according to the News & Observer reported.
The professor's statement had prompted an online petition signed by over 60,000 people to get him fired from his university job. The petition stated that the professor "had a history of spewing misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, racist rhetoric." It also accused Adams of "bullying a student into transferring," and referred to his "inflammatory Twitter account that contains threats towards minorities and those exercising their first amendment rights."
The university, after news of Adams' death emerged, released a statement on Thursday night, saying: "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. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts."
While UNCW Professor L.J. Randolph took to Twitter to write: “Please do mourn Mike Adams’s death, but don’t sugarcoat his rhetoric as merely ‘controversial’ or ‘racially charged. He was blatantly racist, homophobic, and sexist, and his own words left no room for interpretation on any of that."
Young America’s Foundation, a national conservative campus organization, also shared its condolences, writing: "We are devastated to hear of the passing of @MikeSAdams. Professor Adams was a beloved freedom fighter and YAF speaker. Our prayers go out to his family." Conservative political blogger Stacey Matthews also commented on Adams' demise, tweeting: “This is awful. Simply awful. Professor Mike Adams was a tireless defender of the First Amendment and conservative values. It was recently reported that he was retiring from UNCW, who gave him grief for years for his viewpoints.”