Mike Adams, a criminology professor and longtime conservative columnist, was found dead at his home, a little more than a week after the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) agreed to pay $504,000 for his resignation.
According to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, deputies on Thursday afternoon responded to a wellness check at Adams’s home in Wilmington, where they found Adams deceased. No additional information has yet been released, including the possible cause of death.
The Office of University Relations at UNCW released a statement on Thursday night, confirming Adams’ death. Adams had been teaching at UNCW since 1993 until he was set to resign at the end of this month as part of a $504,000 settlement with the university.
The settlement came as Adams was facing growing criticism for a series of Twitter posts, particularly one in which he compared Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s lockdown policies to slavery. “This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top,” he wrote in May. “I almost felt like a free man who was not living in a slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go.” The post led to temporary suspension of his Twitter account.
In an earlier Twitter post that triggered criticism, Adams expressed his support of armed demonstrators who took to the streets of Raleigh, North Carolina, in protest of Cooper’s lockdown order. “Police officers in Raleigh declared protest a non essential activity. We no longer have a First Amendment right of peaceable assembly. This is why we have a Second Amendment,” his post reads. Adams’s online accusers interpreted the post as inciting violence against police officers.
Initially a self-described atheist, Adams converted to Christianity in 2000 and had remained a vocal defender of conservative values ever since on various issues including abortion, freedom of speech, and gun rights. Teaching a popular freshman criminal justice course, Adams had gained supporters who appreciated his unbending expression of conservative views despite the left-leaning political climate on campus.
“Over the years I admired his courage speaking out as a conservative on a secular campus, where colleagues and students long sought his removal,” Townhall editor Leah Barkoukis wrote in an article mourning Adams, who had regularly published opinion pieces on the conservative news site. “Amid the civil unrest and progressive insanity gripping the nation, I feel confident saying he would want conservatives and Christians everywhere to continue carrying the torch.”
Adams’s opponents, however, accused him of “spewing misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, racist rhetoric” and had recently renewed an effort to push the university to fire him amid the wave George Floyd protests gripping the country.
“Why is Mike Adams still employed at this university?” reads one of many online petitions calling for his firing. “It is despicable and inexcusable that he has continued to be employed for so long despite being such a threatening presence to students that do not share his beliefs.”